Udzungwa Mountain National Park Safari
770 square miles in size and in existence for close to three decades, the Udzungwa Mountains National Park is one of the most popular safari experiences of Tanzania. While the park has been around for only a short time, the mountains themselves were created more than 200 million years ago and are a part of the Eastern Arc Mountains of Tanzania and Kenya. This makes its beauty rather special. Unlike the other national parks where the focus is mostly on the animals that make their home there, this particular park is also well-known for its wide array of biodiversity. Here, you’ll find steppe, tropical rainforests, the forests in the mountains of course, Miombo woodlands and grasslands too. Imagine experiencing all this in one single space.
In fact, while the park is less than 3% of the country’s area, it has in its folds close to 40% of the country’s flora and fauna. Over 2500 kinds of plants can be found here and many animals too. Two of the six primates found in the park are indigenous to the region- the Sange Crested Mangabey and the Iringa red colubus. You may hope to see leopards, palm civets, elephants, buffalos, hyenas, duikers, and the African hunting dogs, among other animals.
Apart from the flora and fauna, people also come to Udzungwa for the massive number of birds that call it home- more than 400 species of them. Like some of the primates, some of the birds too are only found in the park. Among the other birds, you will find the marabou, trumpeter hornbill, crowned eagle, ruppells vulture, silvery cheeked hornbill, and the woodland, and malachite kingfishers.
The forests here are mighty, their size awe-inspiring, from 250 metres to 2,576 metres. It also has the Sanje waterfall, an ethereal 170 meters of sheer liquid beauty. There are many trails for the walking enthusiasts, and one of the most popular things to do is a walking safari to the waterfall. Just the setting of the place is gorgeous- greenery abounds, the rock face is mighty and the waterfall a sight for tired eyes. Indeed, this park is an absolute must-experience for the avid hiker. While Sanje is relatively easy to do, Mwanihana Trail is a two-night trek that hits the high points. This should be attempted only by the experienced hiker.
You can visit the park pretty much all through the year, but it tends to get a bit tricky during the rainy season. Since it’s a mountain park, climbs can be slippery and you should exercise caution. The dry season between June to October is the most favourable time to visit. The park is advantageously placed- with the Selous Game Reserve to its east and Mikumi National Park to its north. This means, you can see more than one place on a single expedition.
Fly to Dar es Salaam on As Salaam Air, from where you can take a bus or a minibus. It’s a two hour journey from there to Mikumi. Mikumi is about 38 minutes away from Udzungwa, less than an hour away. You could take the train from Dar too- the station is not far from the park and arrangements can be made to have someone pick you up.