Udzungwa Mountains National Park

The Udzungwa Mountains are not a typical safari destination with classic game viewing opportunities, but it is a park suitable for bird and primate enthusiasts, and most importantly for keen walkers. It is part of a mountain range of ecological scientific importance, which combines a chain of large forest-swathed mountains with an unbroken cover of closed canopy forest that rise impressively from the flat coastal plains of eastern Tanzania.

This unique park has only been declared a protection zone in 1992. Due to its inaccessibility and isolation a rich biodiversity has been preserved. The Udzungwa Mountains are one of Tanzania’s most biodiversity hotspots. It is often referred to as “African Galapagos” with various endemic species only found here. Ongoing scientific explorations are still taking place and for sure more endemic animals and plants are yet to be revealed.

This national park is best explored on foot. A network of various walking trails leads hikers through this un-touristic park. Be prepared for a green, lush and sun-drenched forest with 30m high trees whose trunks are covered by ferns, liches, moss and mushrooms. Ornithologists and anyone interested in primates will be fascinated by the park’s exclusive wildlife. It is an adventurous exploration and authentic experience that can easily be added to a Southern Tanzania safari.

Main Facts

established in 1992 with a size of 1,990 km²

Best Time

all year around – best during dry season: June to October

Main Species of Primates

Udzungwa Red Colobus
Sanje Mangabey
Yellow Baboon
Mitis Monkey

Activities

walking safaris

Expectations

a must visit for keen walkers and nature enthusiast
tropical rainforest with more than 2500 plant and 400 bird species
famous for its five endemic primate species like the Udzungwa red colobus

Further Details – Udzungwa Mountains National Park

Vegetation

The eastern escarpment of the Udzungwa Mountains supports a sub-montane rainforest, while the central and southern part consists of rolling hilly country covered in grassland and miombo woodland. The Udzungwa Mountains are home of over 2500 species of plants which have been discovered so far. Out of these 25% are endemic and only found here.

Amphibians, butterflies, invertebrates and reptiles call Udzungwa their home. However, the main attraction are its five endemic primates – the Udzungwa red colobus, the Sanje crested mangabey, the Kipunji monkey discovered only in 2005, the Matunda dwarf galago and the Mountain dwarf galago. It is also possible to spot various monkeys like the black-and-white Angola colobus.

Large mammals are present throughout the park including buffalo, bushbuck, red and blue duiker, Miombo genet, elephant, hyenas, leopard, lion, waterbuck. However, these are quite difficult to spot. With more than 400 bird species even bird lovers will find a delight. Endemic species include the Iringa akalat, the Udzungwa forest partridge and the rufous-winged sunbird.

Udzungwa Mountains - ancient mountain range and biodiversity hotspot…

The Udzungwa Mountains are part of an ancient group of mountains that stretches from the Taita Hills in Kenya, across the Pare and Usambara Mountains in northern Tanzania to the Udzungwa Mountains in the southwestern part of the country.

The height difference is quite unique with the low-lying Kilombero Valley at roughly 250 m and the Luhombero peak at 2,579 m above sea level. Due to its large variations in altitude, different habitats were able to evolve resulting in a large biodiversity of wildlife.

Another reason for its biodiversity is its isolated position and the constant climate. As the Udzungwa Mountains are within proximity of the coast, monsoon winds have brought enough rains and humidity for the rainforest to develop.

A few walking trails through the park…

There are no roads within the park and it can only be explored on foot. Walking within the Udzungwa Mountains National Park is only possible together with a national park ranger. The different walking trails vary from a few hours up to a walking adventure of three days.

  • Prince Bernhard Trail (roughly 1 km): visits a small waterfall
  • Sanje Circuit (roughly 4 km): visits the parks attraction the Sanje Waterfalls which are divided into 3 section with crashed of 200m, 70m and 40m – a natural pool invited to cool down
  • Sonjo Trail (roughly 6 km): visits two small waterfalls
  • Mwanihana Trail (roughly 38 km): multi-day walking adventure

Which travelers will particularly enjoy Udzungwa Mountains National Park?

  • travelers who are keen walkers and prefer a destination off the beaten path
  • travelers who are looking for a walking adventure and don’t mind basic accommodations
  • travelers who are interested in birds, insects, plants, primates and smaller mammals