The Udzungwa Mountains National Park is one of Tanzania's most outstanding and exciting wilderness areas, with unique wildlife species inhabiting this range of forests. Udzungwa is a primate park and there are currently 12 species of primate, including two found nowhere else in the world (the Sanje Mangabey and the Iringa Red Colobus). Udzungwa is home to approximately 400 species of bird, many of which are endemic to the area. The park is treasured for the high level of biodiversity of birds and animals.
The mountain range is often referred to as "The Galapagos Islands of Africa" due to its rich levels of biodiversity and endemism (the ecological state of being unique to a defined geographic location).The park's scenery is spectacular, with the rainforest spreading across rolling hills, valleys and mountains. The park has a number of impressive waterfalls, including Sanje Waterfalls, the highest waterfall in the National Parks system in Tanzania. Swimming in the plunge pools of the waterfalls is extremely refreshing following a hot hike!
Udzungwa Mountains National Park is one of Tanzania’s most outstanding, and pristine paradise, a unique and exciting wilderness with forests of greatest altitudinal range. It is one of thirty-four “World Biodiversity Hotspots” and one of 200 WWF Ecoregions of global critical importance.
Here Is a List Summary Of The Hiking Trails in The Udzungwa National Park:
There are several trails ranging from short 20min strolls, to 5 day expeditions. The most popular hike is up to Sanje Waterfalls, looking for monkeys, swimming in plunge pools, and enjoying the spectacular view.
Named after Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands – president of the World Wildlife Fund at the time the Udzungwa Mountains National Park as gazetted – these small but pretty falls are just a short walk behind the park headquarters. They are named after the Prince, as aged 84, he was unable to climb to the top of Sanje Waterfall. They are a nice quick visit for anyone visiting the park after paying park fees, regardless of which trail you plan to hike, and if you're not planning to hike one of the longer trails, you can extend your walk (by 1.5km) up to campsite 2 to spend a little more time in the forest without a long climb.
A short (20min) easy trail to the bottom of the Sonjo waterfall, with the option of continuing up a steeper path for 15 mins to reach the second falls. These falls are very beautiful and a favorite of waterfall lovers. From the second waterfall, you can continue around the circuit to return to the start along a different path.
The most popular trail in Udzungwa is Sanje Waterfall. This 180m waterfall is very impressive, surrounded by rainforest with excellent views over the Kilombero floodplain. At the top, you can swim in the refreshing plunge pool of the top waterfall (around 40m high) surrounded by thick rainforest. Optionally, you can take a 20min detour from the path, either on the way up, or on the way down the path from the Old Sanje Hotel, to the bottom of the large waterfall for fantastic views looking up, and more swimming/jumping/diving in the pool (a bit warmer). Sanje can be walked at any time of day, but it is best in the morning with the sun on the waterfalls, and is very hot at midday. At the right time of year, the sides of the gorge are covered in fireball lilies. It is common to see both types of Colobus on this trail. Many people walk up and down on the Old Sanje Hotel trail, but there is an alternative route up or down starting at the ranger post to the south. This route is slightly longer and is less used, so provides better chances of seeing undisturbed monkeys, and of course a circular walk.
Njokamoni trail is very similar to the Sanje trail except a lot less walked. As a result, it is common to see many troupes of monkeys with a better chance of seeing the Sanje Mangebey. You may also see red duiker, elephant shrews, squirrels and other rare forest mammals. This hike will also take you between 4 and 5 hours with a rewarding waterfall at the top which you can splash around in to cool off. The trail passes behind Hondo Hondo Camp and Njokamoni waterfall is the same stream as that which provides water to Hondo Hondo. You start the hike from TANAPA HQ and end the walk 1km down from Hondo Hondo Camp.
This trail follows a big loop around the large peak rising behind Hondo Hondo Camp. It starts from Campsite 3, just after the turning for the park HQ and arrives back on the decent trail from Njokamoni Waterfall, right back into Hondo Hondo. It is a long and steep walk that climbs to over 1300m above sea level so you should plan to leave early. You discover that what you thought was a ridge looking up from the camp is actually just a step into the hidden valleys, where the streams become meandering and almost level, with open grassy areas favored by elephants - it is necessary to take a ranger on this hike as there are several large mammals deep in the forest. The trail goes behind the peak above Hondo Hondo and the forest up there is full of large trees. You will hopefully see plenty of wildlife on this trail.
A great initiative of the park is conditioning a troupe of habituated Mangabeys. You will hike “offsite” into the forest just above Hondo Hondo starting from the HQ and with the help of the research team you will trek to a troupe of Mangabey and observe them from very close quarters, undisturbed. It’s an excellent way to observe this endemic species close up without disruption to their natural habits. This is pre-arranged with the national park and they will inform the camp on the morning where the troupe has been spotted.
Special camping can be arranged within the Udzungwa Mountains National Park itself. You have the option of the overnight Sanje hike, the longer two night Mwanihana hike, or the serious 4 night Lumemo Trail. You will trek into the rainforest where you will spend the night below the canopy, in a campsite high up in the mountains. We arrange everything for you, including all necessary equipment, all meals, porters, cook and so on, and all you have to do is enjoy the wildlife and nature and the magic of the forest night.
To get a true feel of the forest, spend a night under the canopy. Instead of taking half a day to complete the Sanje trail, head up and make camp in the forest overnight with the help of our skilled Hondo Hondo campsite team. Spend the afternoon in the forest and then a magical evening under the forest canopy, eating by firelight and sleeping under canvas to the sounds of the forest. Awake early to breakfast looking out over the Kilombero Valley from the top of the waterfall, and then spend the morning wandering down through the forest, spotting wildlife and splashing in waterfall pools on the way down. Hondo Hondo can provide everything you need for this trip – all you bring is yourselves, and a camera!
For the keen hiker, Mwanihana peak at 2150m is one of the highest peaks in the Eastern Arc. The 38km hike takes 3 days, 2 nights at a leisurely pace. For those who want to make the most of the hike, we recommend that you take your time as the trail passes through Miombo woodland, lowland forest, sub-montane forest, highland plateau and pristine montane forest. Just before the bare rock and grass of the summit, eerie glades of bamboo rustle in the wind. This is, in terms of habitat and associated wildlife, a very diverse journey. Much of the trek is alongside sparkling mountain streams with butterflies dancing through the dappled forest light. This is also the most successful route for spotting the elusive Sanje Mangebey. Although rarely encountered, there are also elephant and buffalo up on the plateau so your trek will be accompanied by an armed ranger.
The longest and most arduous trail in Udzungwa is the Lumemo trail. You are transferred to the start of the trail, beyond Ifakara on the Lumeno River, and hike up into the hills for 4 nights, returning along the same trail as Mwanihana not far from Hondo Hondo, where you'll be picked up and brought back to Hondo Hondo for a nice shower and a few much needed cold beers! This trail leads deep into the heart of the Udzungwas, ascending ridges, and descending into two deep valleys - areas where few people have ever been and the wildlife there has had virtually no contact with humans. You need to be a competent hiker in good physical condition to attempt this trail.