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Galapagos Island of Africa: Udzungwa Mountains Tanzania
The draw to this wonderful park is the diversity of flora and fauna and the remote almost inaccessible forests. There are no roads in the park, you have to be prepared to do lots of hard hiking, and indeed this is a hiker’s paradise.
It is remarkable that these forests have remained untouched before they received National Park status. This is due largely to traditional taboos and beliefs that kept the local people from destroying and clearing these forests. There are important natural caves in the park – which are of a significant cultural importance. There are many plant species found nowhere else in the world including over 160 medical plant varieties.
The Udzungwa hosts animals that are found in most Tanzanian parks including elephants, buffaloes, lion and leopard; also including the African wild dog, which is only found in Southern Tanzania. However, most of these are not present in large numbers and visitors will have a hard time spotting these game animals in this Park. A park ranger and/or guide must accompany all hikers.
There are ten species of primates found only in this park, these include the sanje mangabey, the red colobus monkeys and the nocturnal Matundu Galago, discovered in 1996.
Udzungwa has the richest forest bird habitat in all of Tanzania. Several species peculiar to this park have recently been discovered - including a new species of francolin and the Rufus-winged sun bird. Many regard the Udzungwa forests to be among highest-ranking destinations for bird watching in Africa.
The Park was created primarily for the plant life and the rainforests are a big attraction in this park. The park has stunning scenery especially in the rainforest and wooded grassland that include many rivers and waterfalls. The Sanje waterfalls has three tiers to its spectacular drop starting at a height of 200m, to 160m and then to 130m before finally crashing down to the bottom.
The lowland rainforest are 250 meters above sea level and reach up to moist cloud forest at around 2000 meters above sea level. With Mount Mwaniahana rising to 2700 meters above the forests. This mature [Parinari Excelsa] rainforest is well the adventure of getting there. The hiking in the park is quite hard and a low pace is recommended.
The Lumemo Trail is sugested for hiking in this park and a description can be found in my article The Lumemo Trail: A Tanzanian Wilderness Experience for the Practiced Hiker.
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