Udzungwa Mountains Habitats view all
Udzungwa Mountains National Park is one of Tanzania's newest National Parks, recently gazetted in 1992. The Udzungwa Mountains are the highest mountains in the Eastern Arc mountain range (a range of forest-clad mountains which stretches from Southern Kenya to South Tanzania, known as the 'Galapagos of Africa' due to the high degree of endemism). The Eastern Arc makes up just 2% of the land area in Tanzania and has around 40% of the plant and animal species. This is a place of beautiful forests and clear, sparkling streams where only walking is allowed.
The Udzungwa Mountains are the largest block of the Eastern Arc with the range taking up over 10,000 square kilometers. About 3000 of these make up the national park. The Udzungwas reach a maximum altitude of 2,576m at Luhomero Peak. The Udzungwa has the highest level of endemism in the Eastern Arc making it a Biodiversity Hotspot. It is possible to see up to 4 endemic species in just one day if you know where to look.
The eastern escarpment of the Udzungwa supports sub-montane forest with a canopy reaching over 50m in places. Heading west the elevation decreases, where there are arid conditions in the rain shadow of the mountains. The boundary on the northern side of the Park is the Great Ruaha River.
Udzungwa is described as a "Primate Park" due to the ten species of primate living in it's pristine forests. Four of the species are endemic including the Sanje Crested Mangabey and the Udzungwa Red Colobus (formally Iringa Red Colobus). Quiet hikers are most likely to see the black and white Colobus Monkeys, Udzungwa Red Colobus and Sykes' Monkey. The park is also a favorite amongst bird-watchers, with over 400 recorded species.
A short hike of about 2 hours (slightly steep in places) into the forest takes you to Sanje Falls, which is in fact a series of waterfalls that plunge over 300m in three separate stages. The largest section, with a drop of 180m can be seen from the road below. Here you will be rewarded with breathtaking views across Kilombero Valley and if you decide to stay the night you will be treated to a spectacular sunrise breakfast. Explore the pristine forest and take a refreshing swim in one of the many plunge pools. Have a scenic lunch on top of the falls and visit the endemic African Violets, clinging to rocks next to one of the waterfalls.
For the keen hiker, Mwanihana peak at 2150m is one of the highest peaks in the Eastern Arc. The 38km hike takes 3 days, 2 nights at a leisurely pace, although for the very fit it can be completed in 2 days. For those who want to make the most of the hike we recommend that you take your time as the trail passes through Miombo woodland, low-land forest, sub-montane forest, highland plateau and pristine montane forest. Just before the bare rock and grass of the summit eerie glades of bamboo rustle in the wind. This is, in terms of habitat and associated wildlife, a very diverse journey. Much of the trek is alongside sparkling mountain streams with butterflies dancing through the dappled forest light. This is also the most successful route for spotting the elusive Sanje Mangabey. Although rarely encountered there are also elephant and buffalo up on the plateau so your trek will be accompanied by an armed ranger.
Visit the Udzungwa Mountains and stay at the new Udzungwa Forest Camp (Hondo Hondo) or for the more adventurous camp at the top of Sanje and witness the spectacular sunrise.
There are several other hikes, from 2-3h, such as Njokamoni Waterfall, Sonjo Waterfalls, the Hidden Valleys trail, or the 5 day Lumeno trail - quite arduous in the middle.
Udzungwa Mountains Locations view all
Baobab Valley is situated between Mikumi and Iringa on the edge of the Udzungwa Mountains National Park which is bordered here by the Great Ruaha River. As the name suggests there are many Baobab trees (Adansonia digitata) in this valley and they create a beautiful primeval feel when combined with the rugged mountain scenery.
Mang'ula Village is located in the Kilombero Valley about 60km from Mikumi. It is nestled agains the Udzungwa Mountains National Park and is home to the Park Headquarters. This friendly village has three major tribes: the Wapogoro, Wandamba and Wabena.
Mwanihana Peak is the second highest peak in the Udzungwa Mountains and suitable for the keen hiker only. It is a magnificent trek. You begin by ascending through the miombo woodland of the valley edge, through to sub-montane forest. There is a lush highland plateau to navigate. The second day sees you climbing steeply through montane forest, and finally bamboo, before reaching the summit. It is possible to complete the whole 35km and 2000m ascent in 2 days/1 night, but rather than return rapidly to the hotel in Mang'ula, it's better to spend the 2nd night in the forest as well. Since the walk must begin early, it is necessary to spend a night in the Udzungwa/Mikumi region before starting. This works well as part of a southern Tanzania safari including Mikumi and Ruaha National Parks.
Sanje Waterfall is an idyllic location to include in your Tanzania safari. It is a rich primate park, home to the endemic Sanje Crested Mangebey and Udzungwa Red Colobus monkey.v The waterfall crashes in a spectacular 180m plunge over the Udzungwa escarpment into the Kilombero floodplain. The panoramic view from the top allows you to see the vast Kilombero floodplain and the Selous. Further up river from the main falls are two other falls of 30m and 40m respectively. All three plunge pools are excellent for swimming and cooling off from the hot climb.
The main area for visiting the Udzungwa mountains National Park is on the south east side in the Kilombero valley - the most accessible.The main hikes of Sanje waterfalls, Njokamoni and Mwanihana are on this side along with a host of other activities arrange by Udzungwa Forest Tented Camp - Hondo Hondo
Udzungwa Mountains Activities
Birdwatching in the Udzungwa Mountains National Park
Udzungwa is one of the most important forests for bird conservation in Africa, with 3 restricted local endemics: Udzungwa partridge, rufous-winged sunbird and the African tailor bird.
Cycling at Hondo Hondo
Guided, unguided beautiful cycling around Udzungwa Forest Camp
Hondo Hondo Bird Walk
Starting from Hondo Hondo Tented Camp near Mang'ula there are morning and evening bird walks available. There are over 100 resident species including numerous birds of prey
Mang'ula Village Tour
Mang'ula Village is home to around 8,000 people and has has three major tribes: the Wapogoro, Wandamba and Wabena.
Njokamoni Waterfall Walk
The Njokamoni Waterfall is another great location that can be reached on a day hike in the Udzungwa Mountains National Park. The Njokamoni trail takes about 2-4 hours round trip (of course you are welcome to stay in the forest for longer) starts from the park headquarters.
Prince Bernard's Waterfall Walk
Prince Bernhard Waterfall is a small waterfall just behind the National Park Headquarters. It was named after Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands who was the patron of WWF when the park was gazetted.
Sanje Waterfall Walk
Sanje Waterfalls is a superb place to visit. You hike into pristine natural forest to the top of a 180m waterfall. The hike from the base to the top takes about 2 hours and you gain about 450m of altitude.