Udzungwa Mountains National Park is one of the most special wilderness areas in Tanzania. The ancient rainforest will show you several species witch are unique to the area, such as the Iringa red colobus and the Sanje crested mangabey monkeys.
Your hike here will show you a magnitude of nature, primates, birds, butterflies, and you get an impression about what these forests mean to research and to traditional medicine.
Your hike in the Udzungwa Mountains should be combined with wildlife safari in Mikumi and/or Ruaha National Parks, or the giant Selous Game Reserve.
Rising majestically from the flat coastal scrub of eastern Tanzania is the largest and most bio diverse chain of a dozen large forest-swathed mountains that Udzungwa is a part of.
Known collectively as the Eastern Arc Mountains, this archipelago of isolated massifs has also been dubbed the African Galapagos for its treasures of endemic plants and animals, most familiarly the delicate African violet.
Udzungwa is the only one among the ancient mountains of the Eastern Arc that has been chosen to be a national park. It is also unique within Tanzania in that its closed-canopy forest spans altitudes of 250 metres (820 feet) to above 2,000 metres (6,560 ft) without interruption.
Udzungwa is a magnet for hikers, not a conventional game viewing destination. An excellent network of forest trails will take you a popular half-day hike to the Sanje Waterfall, which plunges 170 metres (550 feet) through a misty spray into the forested valley below.
You can also go for the options for overnight hikes, which increases your chances of spotting some of the wildlife existing in the park, like elephant, buffalo, hippopotamus, lion and leopard.
On these hikes you will be with an armed ranger, but still your chances of spotting the big game are small, you are more likely to meet some of the smaller species like primates, antelopes and bushbabys.
Ornithologists are attracted to Udzungwa for an avian wealth embracing more than 400 species, from the lovely and readily-located green-headed oriole to more than a dozen secretive Eastern Arc endemics.
Four bird species are peculiar to Udzungwa, including a forest partridge first discovered in 1991 and more closely related to an Asian genus than to any other African fowl.
Of six primate species recorded, the Iringa red colobus and Sanje Crested Mangabey both occur nowhere else in the world – the latter, remarkably, remained undetected by biologists prior to 1979.
Undoubtedly, this great forest has yet to reveal all its treasures: ongoing scientific exploration will surely add to its diverse catalogue of endemics.
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