Udzungwa Mountains National Park

by | Jul 9, 2018

Udzungwa Mountains National Park was established in 1992 and it is the part of the Eastern Africa Mountains Arc which extends from Taita Hills in Kenya, Pare and Usambara Mountains to Uluguru Mountains and Udzungwa. The Udzungwa mountains park covers an area of 1,990 square Kilometers with a wide range of altitudes with the highest point 2,576 meters at Luhombero Peak.

The main characteristics of the Udzungwa Mountain forests range from miombo woodlands, bamboo forest, low land forest, montane forest to highland grassland. Known as the Eastern Afromontane Hotspot Udzungwa contains 10 species of primates which 4 among them do not found anywhere in the world. The endemic primate species of udzungwa include the Iringa (Uhehe) red colobus monkey, the Sanje-crested mangabey, the Amani mountain dwarf galago (bush baby) and the Matundu galago. Other primates includes blue monkeys, thick-tailed galago, black and white monkeys. The park is also a home to other animals such as red duiker, bush pigs, blue duiker, sun squirrel and bushbuck.

Udzungwa Mountains National Park is also a known as bird paradise with over 250 species of birds recorded include the rufous winged sunbird and Udzungwa partridge.  The park is also a home to over 1300 species of butterfly where by 121 are endemic to Tanzania.

Game animals which found in Udzungwa include Lion, leopard, buffalo and hippos. These animals are found in the less accessible part of the park.

 

Udzungwa Mountains National Park Trekking Trails

Till this time there are six trekking trails established at Udzungwa Mountains. The trekking trails range from few hours trek to several days trek.

 

Prince Bernhard Nature Trail – 1 hour

This is the shortest trail where hiking takes more or less than an hour suitable for everyone. The trek is just nearby the park headquarters in Mang’ula into the Park Forest. Although Prince Bernard Nature Trail is the shortest trail but has the best scenery as well as small waterfalls. Along this trail several insects such as butterflies can be observed as well as small wild birds, and four species of Primates such as Yellow Baboon (Papio cynocephalus), the Blue Monkey (Cercopithecus mitis), the Angolan Black and White Colobus (Colobus angolensis), and the rare and endemic Red Colobus of Iringa (Piliocolobus gordonorum).

 

Sanje Waterfalls Trail – Half a Day

Tour along this trail takes half a day 14 kilometers round trip starting from the park headquarters along the steep slopes of the eastern side of the mountains. The trail extends across large hilly semi-humid and humid sub-mountain forest formations, to the Sanje waterfalls where water drops for about 180 meters. The scenery along this trail is amazing with a panoramic view of the Kilombero Valley. Several endemic animal species such as Red Colobus of Iringa (Piliocolobus gordonorum) and endemic plants can be seen during trekking.

 

Udzungwa Mountains National Park – Mwanihana Peak Trail – 2 to 3 Days

Udzungwa Mountains national park trekking along Mwanihana trail takes two to three days with overnight stay in tents in the tropical forest. The trek start few kilometers away from the park headquarters and it passes through the Eastern slopes of Mt. Mwanihana. It then goes through semi-humid hilly forests, humid sub-mountain forests, pluvial mountain forests, and short stretches of high-mountain moorlands, and reaches the highest peak at about 2,400 meters of height.

Some endemic animals and plants can be observed when trekking along this trail. The total length of the trail is about 20 kilometers. There is the possibility to observe several endemic vegetal and animal species. This trail is not difficult and it is ideal for wilderness lovers as it provides more exposure to the African wilderness.

 

Udzungwa Mountains National Park Trekking – Mbatwa Trail

Mbatwa trail require two to three days of trekking for back and forth with overnight stays in tents. This trail starts at Mbatwa ranger post through the western slope of Udzungwa Mountains with its departure point at Mikumi-Iringa road at the small village of Mtandika. The slopes are gentle along this trail and its vegetation characterized of thorny scrubs and dry and thin woodland tropical formations, often scattered with imposing Baobab (Adansonia digitata) and Candelabra Tree (Euphorbia candelabrum) specimens. The route lead to the large and windy top plateaus at over 2,000 m of height, with Cool Mountain pastures and stretches of high-mountain semi-humid forests. The total length of this trail is about 20 kilometers.

 

 

Udzungwa Mountains National Park Trekking –  Ruipa Trail

Trekking along this trail start at Ruipa Ranger post and it last 2 to 3 hours where half of it is done on vehicle and the remaining half on foot. The trail follows the Mang’ula-Ifakara road towards south-west, at the foot of the south-eastern slope of Udzungwa Mountains. The topography of this trail is a large flat and hilly territory. Along this trail you can encounter herds of elephants at the point where deciduous semi-humid forests alternate with evergreen humid forest. Along Ruiper river large group of aquatic birds can be observed. Other animals along this trail include Buffalo (Syncerus caffer), and the Hippo (Hippopotamus amphibius), as well as several species of antelopes.

 

Udzungwa Mountains National Park  – Kilombero River

This tour is mainly conducted outside the Udzungwa Mountains National Park at Kilombero River. Drive for about 2 to 3 hours from Mang’ula to Ifakara Ferry Boat of Ifakara where you will embark into a canoeing safari along the Kilombero River. Discover various fluvial environments with full of interesting aquatic flora and fauna. During the canoeing safari you will see various aquatic birds and several specimens of Nile Monitor (Varanus niloticus), Nile crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus), and Hippo (Hippopotamus amphibius).

The pirogue which will be used during the canoeing are made from tree trunks.

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