Kitulo Plateau National Park
Locals refer to this park as Bustani ya Munga, which is Swahili for ‘God’s Garden”, a rare botanical marvel, botanists have dubbed it the ‘Serengeti of flowers’.
- Good walking trails
- Remote, unspoiled wilderness
- Wildflowers as far as the eye can see
- Hikers paradise
- Rare resident bird species
- Visit Matema Beach on the lake shore of Lake Nyasa
- Walking safaris
- 412.9 sq km(159 sq miles)
- Kitulo National Park is close to Lake Nyasa, between the Kipengere, Mporoto and Livingstone mountains. The temporary park headquarters at Matamba are situated approximately 100km(60 miles)from Mbeya town. Kitulo Plateau National Park forms part of the southern circuit of Tanzania.
In 2002, Kitulo became a fully protected National Park. The park is situated on the Kitulo Plateau in the remote southwest corner of Tanzania on the Zambian border. It is such a remote destination that it is hardly visited by tourists. The park’s importance is unprecedented as the area is a rare botanical marvel. Kitulo is the first area in Africa to be protected for its unique flowers. Almost 200 species of flower occur in the Southern Highlands with many species being endemic to the area.
Locals refer to the Kitulo Plateau National Park as Bustani ya Munga, which is Swahili for ‘God’s Garden”, while botanists have dubbed it the ‘Serengeti of flowers’. Kitulo is a rare botanical marvel and it is home to 350 species of vascular plants, including 45 varieties of terrestrial orchid, which erupt into a kaleidoscopically colourful wildflower display of breathtaking scale and diversity. This floral spectacle takes place in Kitulo between the months of December and April.
A visitors to Kitulo will be in awe of the spectacularly coloured wildflowers that abound. Have your camera ready to capture the unique beauty of the flora found in Kitulo. The colours spring forth out of the ground like a cascading waterfall. Flowers you may encounter are ground orchids, red-hot pokers, gladioli and irises.
Big game is scarcely found in Kitulo, but you will find some eland and some species of antelope on the plateau. Bird enthusiasts will be impressed with what this park has to offer. It holds Tanzania’s only population of Denham’s bustard, alongside a breeding colony of endangered blue swallow. Endemic species of butterfly, chameleon, lizard and frog further enhance the biological wealth of Gods Garden.
Big game are scarcely found in the park but eland and some species of antelope forage on the plateau. Kitulo is also home to reptiles and amphibians such as chameleons, lizard and frogs.
Bird enthusiasts can expect to see denham’s bustard, blue swallow, mountain marsh widow, cisticola njombe and kipengere seedeater.
In 2003 a new primate species called the highland mangabey was discovered in Kitulo. The highland mangabey is extremely rare and critically endangered, with an estimated total population of between 500 and 1,000 animals.
Kitulo Plateau National Park is situated on the Kitulo Plateau, which forms part of Tanzania’s southern highlands. The park is one of the most important watersheds for the Great Ruaha River, whose water travels hundreds of kilometres to the coast through Kidatu.
Perched at around 2,600 metres(8,500 ft) between the rugged peaks of the Kipengere, Poroto and Livingstone Mountains, the well watered volcanic soils of Kitulo support the largest and most important montane grassland community in Tanzania.
Rainfall is high and temperatures are low.
WHEN TO VISIT
Wildflower displays peak between December and April. The sunnier months of September to November are more comfortable for hiking but less rewarding to botanists. Conditions are cold and foggy from June to August.
Accommodation at Kitulo Plateau National Park
Utengule Coffee Lodge offers guests an oasis of calm on the slopes of the mighty range in Southern Tanzania, with spectacular views across the East African Rift Valley.