The Udzungwa Mountains

Published: 11th April 2008
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Udzungwa Mountains National Park is one of Tanzania?s most outstanding, pristine, paradise and unique exciting wilderness mountains forested with greatest altitudinal range of forest. It is one of thirty-four ?World Biodiversity Hotspot? and one of 200 WWF Ecoregion of global critical importance

Udzungwa Mountains National Park was established in 1992, after being gazetted by the Tanzanian Government.

The park is home of primate and known from the treasure of high biodiversity of plants and animals. The park has high density of endemism species with some plants and animals that are only found in these mountains nowhere else in the world can be found hence center for endemism in the eastern arc mountains.

Udzungwa Mountains National Park is part of the Eastern Arc Mountains, which is a series of mountains ranging from Taita Hills in Southern Kenya to the Makambako Gap in Southern central of Tanzania.

The mountain range sometimes is termed as ?The Galapagos Islands of Africa? Galapagos Islands found in southern America has unique plants and animals. The eastern Arc Mountains are small and fragmented mountains each block having a patch of remaining dense tropical rain forests with high rainfall which seems as Islands in the sea of arid savannah vegetation.

The Eastern arc ancient crystalline mountains were formed more than 200 million years ago. Geological changes caused the rising of the central plateau, now the Tanzania/Kenya Highlands, and the formation of the Rift valley.

Eastern Arc Mountains have species concentrations of unique flora and fauna in the world, in addition it contains 30-40 percent of Tanzania plants and animals. Humidity in the air from the Indian Ocean is forced, by the sudden change of altitude, to precipitate as rain in the mountains. Since the prevailing wind comes from east, the mountain range constantly receives rain.

Location and Size..

The Udzungwa Mountains National Park with it?s area of 1990 sq. km is part of unique Eastern Arc Mountains, which cover about 10,000 square kilometers. The park is centered on 30 41? E and 70 48? S in the Iringa and Morogoro regions of south central Tanzania.

Udzungwa Mountains National Park rises between 250m asl Park and 2576m asl Lohomero at the highest peak.


Udzungwa covers wet humid climate providing water for Kilombero valley. The Great Ruaha provides electricity for much of the country. Rainfall in the south east of the mountains to 2000 mm per year and on the north west rain shadow area it decreases to 600 mm. Temperatures range from 21 ? 27 degrees C on average.


Eleven primate species with five endemic species of which three are diurnal Sanje Mangabey (Cercocebus sanjei), new discovered monkey (Rungwecerbus kipunji) and Iringa red colobus Monkey(Colobus gordonorum) (both on the IUCN red list). Other primates are Black and white Colobus Monkey(Colobus angolensis),Yellow baboon (Papio c. cynocephulus), Blue Monkey (Cercopithecus mitis), Vervet Monkey (Cercopithecus aethiops).

Note: Strict rules are in place to safeguard you and the primates. Allow at least 2 days to see them ? this is not a zoo so there are no guarantees where they will be each day.

The park is also a home to animals like Elephants, Buffaloes, Lion, Leopard, Abbot duikers, Red duikers, Blue duikers, Bushbucks, Bush pigs, Honey badgers, Civets, Hippopotamus, Sables, Klipspringers, pangolins, Mongoose, squirrels, Hyraxes and others. Depending where and when one go.


The park has second highest bird diversity in Africa behind only the Ituri forest in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Ornithologist are attracted to Park for an avian wealth as the forest is rich in birds habitat embracing more than 250 species, from the lovely and more than a dozen secretive Eastern Arc endemics species like Rufous winged sunbird and Udzungwa partridge a forest partridge first discovered in 1991 and more closely related to an Asian Genus than to any other African fowl.


The Park also is attractive to herpetologist as harbors a dozen of Reptiles and amphibians which some of them are endemic to the Park like Cnemaspis uzungwae, Phrynobatrachus uzungwensis


The Park Mountains is unique as the only national park in Tanzania having close canopy and unbroken forest from lowland rainforest at 250m asl rising to highland forest 2576m asl the highest peak in the park. The park has plants from small plants like Saint paullia to big tree over 30m high like Sterculia appendiculata and Antiaris toxicaria.

The park has more than 2500 plants species over 160 species known as medicinal plants, botanists have recently discovered several endemic plants in the park.

The major attraction is biologically diverse plants, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, birds , butterfly, and insects of which some of species are found nowhere else in the world. Udzungwa Mountains National


 Udzungwa is not a conventional game viewing destination, Udzungwa is a magnet for hikers. An excellent network of forest trails includes the popular half-day ramble to Sanje Waterfall, which plunges 170 m (550 feet) through a misty spray into the forested valley below.

 The more challenging two-night Mwanihana Trail leads to the high plateau, with its panoramic views over surrounding sugar plantations, before ascending to Mwanihana peak, the second-highest point in the range.

 Ornithologists are attracted to Udzungwa for an avian wealth embracing more than 400 species, from the lovely and readily-located green-headed oriole to more than a dozen secretive Eastern Arc endemics. Four bird species are peculiar to Udzungwa, including a forest partridge first discovered in 1991 and more closely related to an Asian genus than to any other African fowl.

Of six primate species recorded, the Iringa red colobus and Sanje Crested Mangabey both occur nowhere else in the world ? the latter, remarkably, remained undetected by biologists prior to 1979.

Udzungwa is the only known National Park in Tanzania with a culturally important natural cave and has survived destruction before gazettement due to traditional taboos and beliefs.

Culture and History

?Udzungwa? is probably a linguistic corruption ? possibly by the Germans ? of the Wahehe word ?wadsungwa? which means the people who live on the side of the mountains.

For many years the people on the eastern side of the Udzungwa Mountains have used the area as a sacred place for worship. They believe in a Mountain God they call bokela to whom they offer sacrifices in times of drought, diseases and famine.


Since the access of most areas is by foot. Mountains climbing , Hiking , bird watching and camping safaris are the major activity in the park, an excellent network of forest trails go through beautiful sceneries, trails are maintained regularly to allow access for visitors in different parts of the park.

Tourists trails

Mountain climbing and Hiking being the major activity, currently there are ten tourists? trails in the eastern and western part of the park.

Eastern trails

Mwanihana and Lumemo trails for hiking to Mwanihana peak the second highest peak 2500masl, Sanje trails for hiking to Sanje waterfall, Prince Bernhard trail for hiking to Prince Bernhard and Njokamoni waterfall, Sonjo trail hiking to Sonjo waterfall and Njokamoni Mwaya waterfalls trail.

Western trails

Mbatwa trails for hiking to Mwanaluvele cave, Ibito valley and Ng?ung?umbi swamp.

Udekwa trails for hiking to Lohomero peak the highest peak in the park 2576masl, Chavemba peak at Ndundulu Mountains, and Nyumbanitu.



1. Udzungwa Mountain View lodge ? it is about 5 minutes by walking south from the park headquarter. The lodge is just facing the beautiful ranges of Udzungwa Mountains. It is an ideal place for brief view of Monkeys.

2. Mountain Peak Lodge ? it is about 15 minutes by walking south/eastern of the park headquarter. The lodge is situated at the centre of the Mangula Village. It is very near to the fruits market.

3. Mangabey Lodge ? it is about 10 minutes by walking south/eastern of the park headquarter.

4. Twiga Hotel ? it is the hotel owned by the park itself. It is about 3 to 5 minutes eastern of the park.

5.Park Rest house

6.Mikumi guinesis lodge

Guest Houses:

Lobolwe and Makole guest houses, are situated at the village centre.


Camping is possible inside the park.


Day 1:

Pick up and transfer by road (visits to local craft centers and lunch along the way) to the village of Mangula, located at the foot of the mountains. Here you will make final preparations for your trek into the mountains. The hike up to Sanje waterfalls campsite where you will overnight is relatively short maximum (max 2hrs) but is quite steep in places. This is the park's most popular attraction, although it is unlikely that you will meet any other hikers. Once at Sanje there will be time to explore forest and waterfalls, and even go for swim in one of the plunge pools. Bushbabies can be heard calling through the night and there will be a night walking safari looking for endemic chameleons

Day 2:

Wake up for sunrise, unincredible sight from the natural viewing amongst the waterfalls. After breakfast you will descend back down to the road and to the starting point of the Mwanihana trail, which at 34 km is a currently existing longest hike in the udzungwas. This is also the only trail that exposes the visitors to the closed montane forest and grassland habitats of the higher slopes. Camp at an idyllically situated campsite, next to a clear mountain stream.

Day 3:

Breakfast at sunrise before you begin the climb throught the montane forest to the 2150 m Mwanihana peak where the views across udzungwas are impressive on a clear day. Descend to camp for a well deserved lunch. In the afternoon walk down to a camp near a river in a location favored by high primate abundance.

Day 4: After a leisurely breakfast there is a final short hike out of the forest and you will be transferred back to Dar / any other next direction.

For more information on visiting Tanzania contact Wild Things

For more information on visiting Tanzania's mountains contact Mountain Kingdom


John Mansuris a Tanzanian Safari Consultant on work experience with Wild Things and MK Safaris in Tanzania . .

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