Known as “The Galapagos of Africa,” Udzungwa Mountains National Park in southern Tanzania covers more than 770 square miles (1990 sq. km). The incredible diversity of tropical flora and fauna species has earned the park recognition as an Ecoregion of Global Critical Importance by World Wildlife Fund, as well as a World Biodiversity Hotspot, and the park is part of the Eastern Arc Mountains that extend from the Taita Hills in Kenya to Pare, Usambara, Nguru, Ukaguru, Uluguru, Rubeho and Udzungwa Mountains. The landscape is primarily mountain ranges interspersed with rainforest and arid savannah. Dense, rich vegetation thrives here because of the significant rainfall that forms as a result of humidity from the Indian Ocean that condenses at the elevations that range from 820 feet to more than 8,450 feet at Luhomero, the highest peak in the park. Spending time in a rainforest during your East African equatorial safari is an unexpected treat, and with 30% to 40% of Tanzania’s plant and animal life, you are sure to have many chances to observe diverse animals that are found within the park. Udzungwa Mountains National Park is the only park in Tanzania with eleven primate species, with five of those species living only within the park boundaries, such as diurnal sanje crested mangabey, rungwecebus kipunji, endangered iringa red colobus, matandu dwarf galago and mountain dwarf galago. Primates that are found in other parts of Tanzania that are also found within the park are black and white colobus, yellow baboon, blue monkey and vervet monkey.
The protected status of the park has also contributed to the preservation of many bird species, and Udzungwa Mountains has a high avian diversity, making this discerning park a destination for any bird lowe on safari in Tanzania with Selous Ngalawa camp. Of the 400 species found within the park, twelve are endemic to the Eastern Arc Mountains, and species include Rufous winged sunbird, recently discovered Udzungwa partridge and many others. You may also see several types of large to small mammals, such as elephants, buffalos, varied duikers from Abbot, Harvey’s Red to Blue, klipspringers, honey badgers, bush pig bushbucks, sables civets, rock hyrax, giant elephant shrew and many more, as well as rarity carnivores, such as traversing lions and elusive leopard from the nearby Mikumi National Park. There are also reptile and amphibian species, with the forest geckos Cnemaspis Uzungwae and frog Phrynobatrachus Uzungwensis being endemic to the region. You may also find some of the many smaller denizens of the park – an extraordinary variety of delicate butterflies. Botany lovers are thrilled to find more than 2500 plant species in Udzungwa Mountains Park, with 160 serving healing purposes and others being endemic to the area. Whether you seek small plants, such as Saint paullia or pink and purple African violets, or giant trees, such as the almost 100-foot tall Sterculia appendiculata, the park is sure to please you! For a journey through human history, Udzungwa Mountains is home to several culturally and historically significant sites, such as Magombereka Cave, Bokela, Mwanaruvele Cave, Ndundulu, Nyumbanitu Mountains and others.