Tranquility and charm
The Udzungwa Mountains are part of the Eastern Arc Mountains, the arc which begins in Taita Hills in Kenya. They were formed at least 100 million years ago and many endemic species have evolved here, making them something of ‘an African Galapagos’. Local taboos have helped to preserve the wildlife, and now this national park protects almost 20% of the Udzungwa Mountains.
The national park covers an area of 1990km², and rises from 250 meters to 2576 meters above sea level, Lohomer being the highest peak.
More than 400 species of birds live here, including many regional endemics like the Udzungwa forest partridge, which was new to science in 1991. With more scientific research, further new species are bound to be discovered. A quarter of the plants here are endemic, including some Saitpaulia species, closely related to African violets. There are also endemic amphibians, reptiles, and butterflies.
When is the best time to visit?
The best time to visit Udzungwa is in the dry season between June and October but it’s really quite good all the way to December. Since the park lacks road infrastructure you have to explore it mainly on foot and wet season is not ideal since it can be very slippery.
What is there to do?
With your walking shoes on, carrying water and snacks, you’ll explore the park’s walking. The trails vary in length from a few hours to three days, and do have steep sections, but are always taken at your own pace.
The easiest trail is the Prince Bernhard Waterfall Trail, which leads for around 1km from the Udzungwa National Park gate across relatively flat terrain to a modest waterfall. No guide is required, which means that you are free to take your time and really immerse yourself in the forest. The most popular outing is the four hour guided trek up the Sanje Waterfall Trail. The longest hike is along the Mwanihana Trail, a three day trek to the second highest peak in the reserve, at 2150m. Camping equipment needs to be portered or carried by trekkers. Also an armed ranger is required since encounters with buffalo and elephant are more likely.
How about accomodation?
If you want to stay inside the park the only options you have is the public campsite for a camping safari or staying at the park bandas.
Outside the park there are only a couple of options; Udzungwa Falls Lodge and our absolute favourite Udzungwa Forest Tented Camp or Hondo Hondo as it’s also called. A couple of days at this beautiful lodge will be honey for your soul. Lots of bird watching in and around the camp.