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Udzungwa National Park

Udzungwa is world famous for its biologically diverse forest with approximately 20-30% of the animals and plant species only being found in this small, unique habitat. Udzungwa is sometimes referred to as the ‘Galapagos of Africa’.

Fast Facts

Major Attractions
  • Great for hikers as there are only hiking trails and no roads
  • Abundance of plant life, butterflies, amphibians and reptiles
  • Magnificent Sanje waterfall and dense forest areas
  • Stone age remains at Isimila
  • Lush rainforest over 30 million years old
Activities
  • Bird watching
  • Walking safaris
  • Cultural tour - visit archaeological site, Bokela(mountain god), visit Mufindi Highlands Orphanage project
  • Canoeing - Mufindi Highlands
  • Horse riding - Mufindi Highlands
  • Cycling safari - Mufindi Highlands
  • Aerial safari
Size
  • 1,990sq km(770sq miles)
Location
  • Five hours(350km/215miles) from Dar es Salaam and 65kms(40 miles) southwest of Mikumi. Udzungwa National forms part of the southern circuit of Tanzania.

ABOUT

The Udzungwa Mountain National Park is the first terrestrial National Park in Tanzania. It is world famous for its biologically diverse forest with approximately 20-30% of the animals and plant species only being found in this small, unique habitat. Udzungwa is sometimes referred to as the ‘Galapagos of Africa’.

The Udzungwa mountains are estimated to be about 30 million years old. This chain of mountains is home to many species that can be found nowhere else, in fact new  species are still being discovered here! In recent years new mammals, amphibians, reptiles and birds have been discovered and described, including the giant elephant shrew, the Udzungwa partridge and the Kipunji monkey.

The parks primates are its main attraction. The park boasts 11 species of primate. Of the 11 species, 5 are endemic to Udzungwa and include the uhehe(iringa) red colobus, matunda galago and the sanje crested mangabey. With a day to slowly explore you can expect to see the red colobus, black and white angolan colobus, blue monkeys, vervet monkeys and yellow baboons.

The bird enthusiast will be encouraged by more than 400 species of birds calling this National Park home. Birds inhabiting Udzungwa include many regional endemics like the Udzungwa forest partridge, which was new to science in 1991.

There are no roads in Udzungwa, so this is the ultimate hiking park. Five major trails lead into different area and offer a variety of length, challenge and experience. Even amateur hiker’s can easliy access the park’s many streams, waterfalls and views. Most of the trails are situated on the eastern side.

Setting off in walking shoes, with water and snacks, you will explore the park’s walking trails with a national parks guide. These trails vary in length from a few hours to three days, and do have steep sections, but are always taken at your own pace. Expect to pass streams and waterfalls amidst the thick, lush forest vegetation. We recommend Udzungwa as an excellent day-trip from Mikumi.

The park also contains a large number of Stone Age archaeological sites, mainly in Isimila town. Isimila is regarded by archaeologists as one of the most important Stone Age sites on the continent.

WILDLIFE 

A variety of animal species can be found in Udzungwa including water buffalo, elephants, lion, Abbot duikers, red duikers, blue duikers, bushbucks, bush pigs, honey badgers, civets, hippopotamus, sables, mongoose, squirrels and leopards. Amphibians and reptiles thrive in the damp areas. Frogs, chameleons, lizards and snakes all being common along the valley floor.

Amongst the larger attractions are 11 species of primate, 5 of which are endemic and include uhehe (aka iringa) red colobus, the matunda galago and the sanje crested mangabey. The sanje crested mangabey is amongst the world’s 25 most threatened primates. With a day to explore slowly, you will usually see the red colobus, along with the black and white Angolan colobus. Blue and vervet monkeys and yellow baboons are also common.

The park has the second highest bird diversity in Africa . There are over 250 species of birds living here, including many regional endemics like the Udzungwa forest partridge, which was new to science in 1991.  You may see  rufous-winged sunbird, African tailor bird, African Marabou, crowned eagle, malachite kingfisher, hoopoe, trumpeter hornbill, crowned hornbill and wire tailed swallow.

GEOGRAPHY

Udzungwa Mountains National Park is part of an ancient group of mountain ranges which stretch across Tanzania and Kenya. Known as ‘The Eastern Arc’, the Udzungwa are the most extensive mountain range in Tanzania. They were formed at least 100 million years ago and many endemic species have evolved here, making Udzwunga something of  ‘African Galapagos’. This national park protects almost 20% of the Udzungwa Mountains.

The mountains of the Udzungwa ascend from 300 metres in the Great Ruaha River valley in the north and north east of Tanzania to Luhombero, its highest point at 2,576 metres above sea level. In between there are rolling hills, dissected plateau, waterfalls and an undulating upland blanketed buy a thick rainforest which colours the area with an ethereal beauty.

CLIMATE

A mountainous region supported by heavy rainfalls. The altitude varies from between 200 and 2600 metres. This helps the condensation of moist winds from the Indian Ocean, which then forms rain. As a result the Udzungwa mountains are the source of water catchment for the tributaries of River Kilombero, which is one of the two rivers that form the Rufiji River.

NOTE

Strict rules are in place to safeguard you and the primates. Allow at least 2 days to see them as there are no guarantees as to where they will be each day.

WHEN TO VISIT

It is possible to visit year round although it can become slippery in the rains. The dry season is June through October before the short rains, but it is best to be prepared for rain at anytime.

Accommodation at Udzungwa National Park

Udzungwa Falls Lodge, Udzungwa Falls National Park, Tanzania Safari, SafariHQ

Udzungwa Falls Lodge

The lodge offers panoramic views over the rice and sugar plantations along the evergreen great Kilombero valley.

Udzungwa Forest Camp, Udzungwa Falls National Park, Tanzania Safari, SafariHQ

Udzungwa Forest Camp

Udzungwa Forest Camp provides a high standard of accommodation overlooking the forest canopy.

Optional Activities in Udzungwa National Park