Udzungwa Mountains National Park
Udzungwa Mountains National Park is one of the national parks of Tanzania that is located in the South. The park covers a total land area of 1,990 square kilometers, its dominated by the rainforests, Miobo woodlands and the wide range of mountains. The park got its name from the large and highest peak found at the park called Udzungwa Mountain. The highest peak of the mountain is called Lohomero which is 2,576 meters. The mountains are incorporated by the Eastern Arc Mountains. The name of the park or the mountains was derived from the Local Kihehe word “Wadzungwa” which means “the people who leave by the side of the mountains” These mountains have preserved their biodiversity for over years with minimal or no change due to respect from the local communities who have never touched the forests or mountains.
Udzungwa Mountains National was established and gazette in 1992 and was inaugurated by the Netherlands foundation called WWF. The main aim of gazetting the park was to form the five forest reserves that were established in the early 1950’s. The park was established also to protect the wide diversity with rare plant species and primates at the park. There are 6 primate species that are recorded at the park like Iringa red colobus monkey, Crested Mangabey monkey and many more which vcan only be found in Udzungwa Mountains National and no where else in the world. Udzungwa Mountains National is one of the 34 parks in the world with “World Biodiversity Hotspot”. Its also among the top 200 World Wide Fund For Natira Ecoregions of global critical importance. The key attraction at the park are the wide range of mountains, different forest canopy and the water falls. At the peaks of Luhomero and Mwanihana hikers enjoy great hiking experience while birders enjoy more bird species cut across different canopies. The park is formed by the 5 forest reserves of Nyanganje Forest Reserve, Iwonde forest reserve, Matundu forest reserve, West Kilombero Scarp forest reserve and Mwanihana Forest reserve. Historically these forest reserves have been in existence for over 30 million years and they are connect to the Forest basin of Congo basin.
Location of Udzungwa Mountains National
The park is located along the Eastern Arc Mountains that stretch from the Southern part of Kenya in Taita Hills to the Makambako gap of Southern Tanzania. The hills are some times referred as “the Gala-pagos Islands of Africa”. This is because of the large diversity and high numbers of the endemic tree species and animals at the area. The park contains 30 to 40% of the Tanzania’s endemic species both trees and animals. The Udzungwa Mountains National is the only national park found along the Eastern Arc that is located in the South-central part of Tanzania. Its located in the Kilolo district and Kilombero district, the majority part of the park is found in the Kilolo district and the little share around 20% is found in Kilombero district. It is bordered by some national parks like Mikumi national park in the Northeast, Ruaha national park in the North and Ruipa in the Southwest.
It can be accessed from the nearest town of Mikumi and also from the fomer capital city which is the nearest largest town to the park. Its around 350 kilometers which is an equivalent of 215 miles from the city of Dar es Salaam. If one is on the town of Mikumi its only 65 kilometers on the Southwest of Mikumi town.
Climate of Udzungwa Mountains National
The park is one of the places in Tanzania that receives the highest amount of rainfall in a year. The highest amounts of rainfalls are received during the long early rains from March to May and some around November. The annual rainfall received can amount to over 2000mm especially in the Eastern part of the park while on the west it can reach up to 600mm. The dry seasons are longer starting from June to October and then from December to February every year. This dryu season is the best time recommended for the travelers to visit the park. However the park can be visited any time of the year.
Attractions in Udzungwa Mountains National
The natural Udzungwa Mountains National is gifted with more tourists attractions which are breathtaking. Its great place of relaxing and catching cold fresh breath after long African trip in overcrowded national parks. The park is one of the hot spot for Tanzania tourist destinations which must not be missed due to its unique landscapes that are formed by the massive ridges of the Eastern Arc Mountains. Below are some of the highlights of Udzungwa Mountains National
The Udzungwa Mountains National pride is the unique waterfalls that offers travelers the best scenic and sightseeing experience. The Sanje water fall found in the heart of the park is the highest waterfalls in Tanzania. The waterfall is compressed of three different stages or breakings. Depending on the physical ability of the traveler we can visit all the stages in your one day hike to the top of water fall. The first stage which is the longest is at 170 meters, followed by the one with 30meters and finally the 70 meters which is the second longest. You are freely allowed at the bottom of the falls to take your bath. Each stage has deep pool of water which experienced swimmers can enjoy. The park has also small water falls like Prince Bernhard which was named after the Prince who was the foiunder of the falls, Mwaya falls, Sonjo falls and Njokamoni falls.
Mountain peaks and trails.
The name of the park was derived from the name of the highest mountain at the park. The park is dominated by mountain ranges which is one of the key attraction at the park. The Udzungwa Mountains are composed of the ranges that give you great canopy views of the park. Hiking to these peaks donot need more hiking experience. You only ned some level of fitness inorder to finish the hike successfully during your safari to the park. The forests and the mountains have trekking trails that hikers and birders use for experiencing the park. The magnificent forest is mostly visited by researchers who want to discover more about some rare tree species at the forest. The park remains one of the untouched forest in Tanzania since the time of its gazetting
The hike trails start from one day hike to Sonjo trek to the 6 days hike to Lumemo trail. The park has poor road networks that makes the park to be only accessed by foot not cars.
Cultural and historical sites
Udzungwa Mountains National is also a site of more history and culture with more sites that offer more historical attachment. The park is attributed to more historical setting of more Tanzania tribes that long lived in the Southern part of Tanzania. Most of these tribes settled around the mountains before they spread allover the other southern parts of the Tanzania.
Primates and birds
Udzungwa Mountains National is ahome of rare primates that canot even been seen from any part of the world except only this park. There six recorded primate species with the most notable ones are the Sanje crested Mangabey and Iringa red colobus.
Birding is excellently done in Kilombero floodplains where there are more bird species of both wetlands and forest bird species. The main road is near only 2 kilometers north of Mangula town which is next to the Hondo Hondo camp. The park has recoded over 400 bird species which are both forest species and wetland species. Some of the bird species include African fowl, Forest Partridge, green-headed oriole and others.
Udzungwa Mountains National remains one of untouched and less exploited national park in Tanzania receiving less visitors in a year due to poor road network inside the park.