About Udzungwa Mountains National Park
Udzungwa Mountains National Park is a national park in Tanzania with a size of 1,990 km2 (770 miles2). The habitats contained within the national park include tropical rainforest, mountain forest, miombo woodland, grassland and steppe. There is a vertical height range of 250–2,576 metres (the peak of Lohomero), which incorporates the Udzungwa Mountains part of the Eastern Arc Mountains. There are more than 400 bird species, 2500 plant species (25% of which are endemics) and 6 primate species. It has the second largest biodiversity of a national park in Africa.
Six primate species have been recorded, five of which are endemic. The Iringa red colobus and Sanje crested mangabey are only found in the Udzungwa Mountains National Park, the mangabey species was undetected by biologists prior to 1979.
Tourism in the Udzungwa Mountains national Park revolves around hiking and trekking, as the park has no roads and is accessible only on foot. The hiking trails range in difficulty from the short one-hour Sonjo trek to the extremely challenging 6-day camping trek the Lumemo Trail. The most common walk is the Sanje Waterfalls trail which takes approximately four hours to complete and allows the visitor access to the stunning 170 m waterfall and includes swimming in the waterfall plunge pools as part of the activity.
Accommodation for visitors within the park is only possible on a camping basis as there are no lodges within the park borders. Near to the park gates is the Hondo Hondo Udzungwa Forest Tented Camp, a new ecolodge running on hydropower offering ensuite accommodation for visitors. Within the nearby village of Mang’ula there are also a couple of local guesthouses providing a budget option.
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.
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 dance 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 its 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.
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 Park 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” which is the name of the area is probably a linguistic corruption possibly by the Germans of the word “wadsungwa” one of the tribe who lives on the slopes of the Mountains. The park has Cultural and Historical sites such as Bokela (mountain God), Mwanaruvele cave, Magombereka cave, Nyumbanitu and Ndundulu mountains.