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Udzungwa Mountains National Park (Tanzania)


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#1 inyathi

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Posted 28 April 2012 - 05:44 PM

After doing a quick search to see if anyone’s been to the Udzungwa Mountains in Tanzania I see that there’s one trip report that mentions a brief visit and another brief visit mentioned in a post on Mikumi NP in the parks forum. I have just recently been to the Udzungwas this February for my second visit and after I got back from this latest trip I was going to write a trip report. However once I started writing I found I wanted to put in more and more details to the point where I thought it would be better to turn it into something for the parks section and give the Udzungwas their own entry. Besides I would rather write about relatively little known and little visited parks or reserves that ideally need a few more tourists than write about the most popular well known parks that arguably need a few less. I will though still write a trip report but just about my time watching monkeys in the Udzungwa Mountains National Park, hopefully without repeating too much of what follows.

Udzungwa Mountains National Park

From the Taita Hills in south-eastern Kenya a chain of isolated mountain ranges runs down through Tanzania south westwards to the Mufindi Highlands ending at the Makambako Gap. Their different altitudes, sizes, ages, soil types and other factors make these mountains known as the Eastern Arc one of the world’s great biodiversity hotspots; home over 50% of all Tanzania’s animal and plant species including some of the rarest fauna and flora in Africa. Near the southern end of the Eastern Arc lie the largest and highest of these mountains the Udzungwas, the northern end of which were turned in to the Udzungwa Mountains NP in 1992 the only national park in the Eastern Arc. UMNP is unique amongst Tanzania’s parks for having closed canopy rainforest extending uninterrupted from 250m (820ft) to 2,000 metres (6,560 ft), the largest area of forest in the Eastern Arc which is why the Udzungwas are a paradise for primates.

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(With thanks to Google Earth and MAPA)

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The Primates

The park is home to eleven different species. Five of these are nocturnal galagos, the small-eared, Grant’s, greater, Matundu dwarf and mountain dwarf; the last two are regional endemics. The other six are monkeys, yellow baboon, vervet, Sykes’s, Angolan pied colobus, the endemic Udzungwa red colobus and the endemic Sanje crested mangabey.

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Yellow Baboon Papio cynocephalus


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Sykes’s MonkeyCercopithecus mitis monoides/moloneyi


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Angola Pied Colobus Colobus angolensis palliatus these monkeys found from the Southern highlands up the Eastern Arc to the Kenya Coast (and in the Congo) are a different species from the perhaps rather more familiar Guereza Colobus guereza that in East Africa is found in parts of northern Tanzania and much of Kenya and Uganda


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Udzungwa Red Colobus Procolobus (piliocolobus) gordonorum sometimes called the Iringa Red Colobus this monkey is now more commonly known as the Udzungwa Red Colobus as it is almost entirely restricted to these mountains.

#2 Paolo

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Posted 28 April 2012 - 07:44 PM

inyathi,

Thank you so much for this extremely interesting post.

It is quite refreshing to read about different places than the usual ones (no disrepect to the beautiful trip reports coming out from Botswana or the Mara).

When was your previous visit to the Udzungwas? Have you had a chance to visit other parts of the Eastern Arc during previous trips?

Keep it coming!

#3 Rainbirder

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Posted 28 April 2012 - 08:44 PM

Nice report!!!
This looks like a very interesting location!
I'm looking forward to hearing more!

#4 twaffle

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Posted 28 April 2012 - 10:11 PM

Wonderful.

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#5 Game Warden

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Posted 28 April 2012 - 10:30 PM

Yes, more off the beaten path Safaritalk :)

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#6 inyathi

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Posted 28 April 2012 - 11:35 PM

Thanks everyone :)

It is quite refreshing to read about different places than the usual ones (no disrepect to the beautiful trip reports coming out from Botswana or the Mara).


Yes I enjoy reading all the trip reports from Botswana, the Mara, Serengeti etc as well and looking at all the wonderful photos of big cats such like and I have to say as far as Tanzania’s concerned that while I hate how busy places like the Ngorongoro Crater, parts of the Serengeti and more recently Ndutu have become. The crowds of tourists (sometimes including myself) being taken to these places or up to the top of (not me) Kilimanjaro help pay to protect wonderful places like Udzungwa that don’t get so many visitors.


When was your previous visit to the Udzungwas? Have you had a chance to visit other parts of the Eastern Arc during previous trips?


My first visit to UMNP was back in 1995

I have birded in the Usambaras (East & West), the birding is there great but an awful lot of the forest has gone replaced with tea amongst other things and there isn’t so much other wildlife. Plenty of Angola pied colobus, Sykes’s and squirrels but certainly no big stuff like buffalos or elephants, being so close to the coast I guess it’s no surprise that there are no longer any elephants.

I have also passed through the Uluguru Mts on the way from Selous to Ruaha via Mikumi many years ago. The scenery was wonderful and again there were plenty of Angola colobus and Sykes’s and some good birds like Narina trogon and green-headed oriole but we didn’t stop to try and look for any of the special birds as we didn’t have the necessary info on where to find them or the time as we were just driving through.

Udzungwa is the only national park in the Eastern Arc and I’m afraid most of the forest elsewhere has now gone leaving just a few forest reserves and inaccessible pockets of trees. A campaign to have the Eastern Arcs declared a World Heritage site was recently vetoed by president Kikwete which is a bad sign. Hopefully the Tanzanians will get rid of him before too long and vote in someone less short sighted when it comes to conservation.

#7 Sangeeta

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Posted 28 April 2012 - 11:43 PM

You are so right about Kikwete, Inyathi. Most politicians are myopic but he seems to be worse than most.

Thanks for this very interesting report. So these were the other type of black & white Colobus monkeys you had referred to in my Serengeti TR.

Looking forward to more.

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You only live once...Go To Africa

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#8 inyathi

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Posted 28 April 2012 - 11:56 PM

The Sanje mangabey

Back in 1979 two researchers Katherine Homewood and Alan Rodgers were surveying what was then the Mwanihana Forest Reserve but which is now part of the Udzungwa Mountains NP. While attempting to study the endemic Udzungwa red colobus up at Sanje Falls Ms Homewood had been forced to retire to her tent suffering from malaria, in her feverish state she heard a strange whooping monkey call that she recognised as the call of a mangabey. These monkeys have calls that are quite different from the calls of either colobus or guenons, however there were not supposed to be any mangabeys in the Udzungwas the nearest known population of was on the Tana River in Kenya over 400 miles away. Her first thought was that she must be hallucinating due to the fever it then occurred to her that perhaps her research partner had obtained a recording of some mangabeys and was playing a practical joke. However when she asked their local guide he said that this was the call of the ng’olaga and expressed some surprise that she didn’t know about these monkeys. Alan Rodgers then went out in to the forest with their guide to see a troop of ng’olagas, when they found the monkeys he could see that they were indeed a type of mangabey. Their guide then informed them that some children in Sanje Village were actually keeping a young orphaned ng’olaga as a pet; they immediately rushed to the village to find this animal. Two years later in 1981 the discovery of this new monkey which they named the Sanje crested mangabey was announced to the world, originally classified along with the agile mangabey as a subspecies of the Tana mangabey Cercocebus galeritus it is now recognised as a full species Cercocebus sanjei.

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Ng'olaga or Sanje Mangabey


If you have a copy of The Kingdon Field Guide to African Mammals you will see from both the illustration and the description that the Sanje Mangabey has a distinctive and rather odd looking crest. In actual fact they don’t look quite as he suggests, that Kingdon portrayed them like this was due to a slightly unfortunate but amusing misunderstanding. To keep its long fringe out of its eyes the children in Sanje Village had taken to cutting their pet monkey’s hair, after its discovery the orphaned Sanje mangabey was removed and taken to the animal sanctuary at the Mount Meru Game Lodge near Arusha to live out its life in captivity. When Jonathan Kingdon went to see the young mangabey its hair had not yet grown back, unaware that it had been given a haircut he assumed that this was what the Sanje mangabey normally looked like. The illustration and the description of the Sanje mangabey in his book are based on the sketches he made of this animal.

The Sanje Mangabey is one of the most endangered monkeys in Africa there are perhaps just 1300 left divided between two separate populations, the largest roughly 60% live in the Mwanihana Forest inside UMNP the rest live further down the mountains towards Ifakara in the unconnected Udzungwa Scarp Forest. Unfortunately conservationists were not able to get the Udzungwa Scarp forest included in the park and this population is severely threatened. Sanje mangabeys are partially terrestrial; they spend a large part of their lives on the ground which makes them extremely vulnerable to hunting especially with dogs.

Doubtless as a result of hunting the Sanje mangabeys have always been quite shy and difficult to see and visitors to UMNP were more likely to hear the calls of these animals while on the way to or from Sanje Falls than actually see them and if you were lucky enough to see some it would most likely just be a brief glimpse. Certainly when I first visited the park just a few years after it opened I was able to get reasonable views of the Udzungwa red and Angola pied colobus and the Sykes’s monkeys but I never saw a mangabey, though I’m reasonably sure I heard some albeit very distantly. Nowadays enough tourists visit UMNP that the more common monkeys have become very used to people and can be seen very easily around the HQ at Mang’ula, on the main trails and in the edge of the forest. The mangabeys however tend to stay a bit further inside the forest, in recent years researchers have been habituating two troops of these monkeys one in the Sanje Valley and the other in the Njokamoni area and since 2007 it has been possible to go and visit them.

Kipunji

Although the Sanje mangabey is the rarest monkey in UMNP it is not in fact the rarest monkey in the Udzungwa Mountains. A third population of Sanje mangabeys of undetermined size was thought to occur in the Ndundulu Forest just west of the NP boundary. In July 2004 a group of scientists led by Trevor Jones visited this forest to survey these mangabeys and other primates, when he eventually got a good look at some mangabeys he realised to his immense surprise that they were not actually Sanje mangabeys. Whatever these monkeys were they were clearly a different species presumably one that was new and entirely unknown to science of or so he thought, however coincidentally another group of scientists led by Tim Davenport of WCS had some months previously at the end of 2003 discovered the exact same unknown monkey on the slopes of Mount Rungwe near Mbeya. Given the monkeys obvious rarity they chose not to collect a specimen and so based purely on their observations of the monkeys they named the species the highland mangabey placing it in the genus Lophocebus. Sometime later the WCS team were presented with a specimen by a hunter on Mount Rungwe, after careful examination of the animal known locally as kipunji they decided that it should in fact be given its’ own genus Rungwecebus. Genetic analysis shows that despite their appearance these monkeys are more closely related to baboons than mangabeys, as result kipunji has now been adopted as the common name. The kipunjis in Ndundulu Forest are extremely shy and will flee at the first sign of humans; previous visitors to the forest had only ever been able to get fleeting glimpses of the monkeys as they fled through the trees, which is why they assumed that they must be Sanje mangabeys. There are thought to be no more than about 150 kipunjis or possibly even as few as 60 in the Ndundulu forest, why the Udzungwa population is restricted just to this forest no one is quite sure, the distance from the similar Luhomero Forest inside the park is only 2kms. It seems likely that in future the park will be extended to include Ndundulu providing a more secure future for this critically endangered Kipunji population. A third population of kipunjis was found in the Livingstone Forest close to Mount Rungwe and this forest has now been included in the recently gazetted Kitulo NP so one population of these monkeys is now in a National Park, where hopefully they will be properly protected

Kipunji in Ndundulu Forest, Tanzania Distribution, Abundance and Conservation Status (2006)

Obviously I’ve never seen a kipunji so I don’t have my own photo so here’s a link to a good photo
Kipunji photo

More info on
The primates of the Udzungwa Mountains:
diversity, ecology and conservation (2009)

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#9 inyathi

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Posted 29 April 2012 - 02:59 PM

The Udzungwas are not just home to unique primates but to a variety of other rare mammals as well notably the recently discovered grey-faced sengi, this is the largest species of sengi (formerly known as elephant shrews) and was also first found in the Ndundulu forest.

http://scienceblogs...._described.php' class='bbc_url' title='External link' rel='nofollow external'> Grey-Faced Sengi

Lowe’s servaline genet the local race of a predominantly Congo species that was originally only known from a single specimen has recently been photographed on a number of occasions using camera traps. UMNP is an important refuge for Abbott’s duiker a species that is endemic to Tanzania. The park is also home to more common forest species like the nocturnal African palm civet a widespread rainforest species that in East Africa is mainly restricted to the Eastern Arc. UMNP is not just a rainforest park there are also areas of dry Miombo and acacia woodland and on the high plateau large areas of wooded grassland so alongside buffalos and elephants which are quite at home in forests, there are other large herbivores such as sable, eland and greater kudu. As can be seen from the maps UMNP is very close to the Selous GR and within the Kilombero Valley there are still a couple of areas where there is enough habitat to form vital wildlife corridors linking UMNP with Selous allowing elephants and other large mammals including carnivores to cross between the two. Both lions and wild dogs have been seen in the park and until quite recently cheetahs, in fact as many species of carnivore have been recorded in UMNP as there are in the Serengeti.

Carnivores of the Udzungwa Mountains Presence, distributions and threats (2oo5)

#10 inyathi

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 08:24 PM

Other Wildlife

With such a variety of different habitats UMNP is one of the top ten important bird areas in Africa, there are said to be over 400 species in the park including a variety of endemics notably the rufous-winged sunbird, Iringa akalat and UMNP’s star bird the Udzungwa Forest Partridge Xenoperdix udzungwensis. The latter species was only discovered in 1991 quite by chance by some Danish ornithologists when their camp cook served it to them in a stew. The partridge is remarkable for the fact that its closest relatives are the hill partridges of Asia, since it was first discovered a new population has been found in the Rubeho Mountains just to the north of the Udzungwas.

UMNP also has an equally diverse range of amphibians and reptiles like the diminutive pygmy bearded chameleon and the Tanzanian gecko both Eastern Arc endemics.

In the park there are numerous beautiful butterflies including both rare endemics and very common species like this gold-banded forester

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The flora of the park is no less interesting with many rare and endemic species of plants from huge rainforest trees to beautiful little flowers like African violets and in the open grassland areas of the plateau terrestrial orchids

#11 inyathi

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 11:38 PM

UMNP is a walking/hiking park there are no roads going right in to the park if you want to see the wildlife game driving isn’t an option you’ve got to walk. You can actually see a fair amount of wildlife just in the area around the HQ at Mang’ula without having to walk too far. Also walking, driving or even cycling on the main road alongside the park will give you beautiful views of the mountains.

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View of the mountains from the road (these photos are from 95 the road is now tarred)


However to get the best from UMNP you really need to go further up in to the forest which can mean climbing some pretty steep hills. So unless you only intend to do the shortest easiest walks you need to be quite fit and ideally very fit if you intend to do any of the really long hikes.

Some of the main hikes include

Prince Bernhard Falls

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This little waterfall is a short easy walk from Mang’ula though the falls are not spectacular you will very likely see both red and pied colobus on the way and possibly other wildlife including some of the more common forest birds. Prince Bernhard opened the park in 1992 and in return TANAPA named these falls after him.

Sonjo Falls

I’ve not been to Sonjo Falls but the walk takes roughly 1hr (each way) through some Miombo woodland

Sanje Falls

The hike up to the top of spectacular Sanje Falls is justifiably the most popular trail in the park and takes roughly 2hrs each way longer if you also hike down to the bottom of the falls before heading up. The main falls have a drop of 170m (558ft) and are the highest waterfall in any of Tanzania’s national parks, the trail starts near Sanje Village so if you’re staying close to Mang’ula you’ll need to drive to Sanje. On the way up you’re likely to see colobus monkeys and possibly the Sanje mangabey as one of the troops in this area has been habituated you should also see a good few forest birds. The following photos are all old scanned slides and also it was the dry season so they're not the best photos of Sanje Falls, if you search the web you will find some rather more impressive shots of the falls with a lot more water flowing over them.

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The top of the main falls provides spectacular views out over the Kilombero Floodplain a vast expanse of flat country used mainly for growing sugar cane that stretches away to the Selous GR in the distance.

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Looking the other way

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Further up there are another two smaller falls if you’re up there in the middle of the day and it’s particularly hot then you may want to swim in the pools though the water is pretty cold.

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Alternatively you can look for African violets which grow on some of the rocks and if you’re lucky the rufous-winged sunbird can sometimes be seen in this area. It is also possible to camp near the top of the falls and if the weather is good you should be able to enjoy an amazing sunrise over the Kilombero Valley.

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View looking down on the forest from the top of Sanje Falls

I did this hike many years ago when I first visited UMNP and the trail was quite difficult in places and getting to the top was fairly strenuous but definitely worth it, as far as I know the trail has been upgraded quite a bit since then so it should be a bit easier, though still hard work in the hot and humid conditions.

Njokamoni Trail

This trail from the HQ at Mang’ula takes about 4hrs to complete and goes to the Njokamoni Falls because they’re not as dramatic as the Sanje Falls this trail is not so busy which makes it a good trail for birds and other wildlife. The local Sanje mangabey troop in this area has been habituated so there is a good chance of seeing them. I haven’t walked the full length of this trail but the section I have walked was easy enough.
For any of the following longer trails you will obviously need to camp along the way which means hiring porters. These trails take you deeper into the forest and also out in to some of the more open areas on the plateau so you must be accompanied by an armed ranger as the chances of running into elephants and or buffalo is quite high.

Mwanihana Peak

Mwanihana Is the second highest mountain in the park at 2500m (8202ft) reaching the summit takes two or ideally three days so to do this hike you need to be very fit. As well as being a beautiful trek there should be a good chance of seeing the mangabeys on this route.

Lumemo Trail

This is the longest and most difficult trail from Mang’ula and takes 5 days, the first part follows the same route as the Mwanihana Trail but bypasses the peak, though I guess it should be possible to go up to the peak if you want to before carrying on. The trail then carries on to the Lumemo River and emerges on the road down towards Ifakara and you need to arrange to be picked up from there.

Luhomero Peak

Luhomero is the highest peak in UMNP at 2576m (8451ft) I believe currently there isn’t a proper trail from Mang’ula so the Luhomero trail in fact starts over to the west of the park near the village of Udekwa and takes 6 days. To attempt this difficult trail you need to drive around to Udekwa and arrange porters there. As well as stunning scenery this should be a great hike for wildlife and especially birds.
If you’re staying at Hondo-Hondo Camp(info to follow) they can arrange these hikes for you and provide equipment.

Many of these trails hadn’t been fully opened at the time of my first visit, we did take another trail in to the forest but I’m not sure exactly which it was

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View of Mt Mwanihana

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Rainforest

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Forest river I'm not sure of the name
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#12 Game Warden

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 11:45 PM

Excellent report. Tz Birder I think you have to organise an ST expedition from your end...

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#13 Rainbirder

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Posted 01 May 2012 - 12:03 AM

It looks to be a spectacular place and a real biodiversity hotspot!!!

This is an excellent read and beautifully illustrated!
After this TANAPA should name a waterfall after you!

There is some excellent footage of Kipunji on the first episode of the BBC series "The Great Rift":-
Push the slider to advance the footage to -18:20 for the relevant bit.



(If watching directly on Youtube push the slider to 40:30.)

Edited by Rainbirder, 01 May 2012 - 04:10 PM.


#14 pault

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Posted 03 May 2012 - 06:17 AM

Excellent guide to the attractions of the park - great stuff. Thanks inyathi!

Waiting again... for the next time again


#15 inyathi

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Posted 03 May 2012 - 09:25 PM

Thanks,

When I started writing this I thought that if someone decides to go to the Udzungwas as a result of reading this that would be reward enough, but since you mention it Rainbirder my own waterfall would be nice. It would have to be a proper one of course at least one a bit more impressive than Prince Bernhard’s Falls or if they haven’t got any spare waterfalls perhaps a mountain peak would be good. ;)

#16 inyathi

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Posted 03 May 2012 - 09:41 PM

Additional info on seeing some of UMNPs’ wildlife.

As mentioned earlier the two colobus species, Sykes's and yellow baboons can all be seen very easily around Mang’ula and this is a great place to try and photograph them, they’re pretty well habituated so you can get fairly close. While there is a chance of seeing the Sanje mangabeys while simply walking one of the trails, your best chance is to go out with the researchers (see trip reporthttp://safaritalk.ne...park-feb-2012/' class='bbc_url' title='External link' rel='nofollow external'> A few Days in the Udzungwa Mountains). You can arrange this at Mang’ula

As for the Kipunji, I am not aware of any tourists who’ve been to see these exceptionally rare monkeys it should be possible to arrange to hike into the Ndundulu forest from Udekwa Village in the west Udzungwas but these monkeys are not at all habituated and will flee as soon as anyone approaches so you would be unlikely to get more than a glimpse.

As far as other mammals are concerned, the larger mammals are really only likely to be seen up on the plateau, elephants do come down to the Mang’ula area generally at night to raid some of the local shambas, so it is possible that you could run in to some in the forest during the day time. However you’re much more likely to see some of the smaller mammals like southern tree hyrax or Tanganyika mountain squirrels. If you walk some of the trails early in the morning or before dusk if you’re very quiet you might get lucky and see a duiker most likely Harvey’s (red) and maybe a chequered sengi. Unless you’re camping you have to be out of the park by 6:30 p.m. obviously you can’t walk after dark so your best chance of seeing galagos or other nocturnal mammals is to camp out in the forest.

Birdwatching

Birding in the Udzungwas is a little bit more of a challenge, at least it is if you want to see the really special birds the Udzungwa and Eastern Arc endemics and other hard to see species. Although forest birding is never easy, walking the trails around Mang’ula and up to Sanje falls you certainly should find some good birds, however all the birds you might see are relatively widespread Afromontane or general forest/woodland species than can be seen in similar habitat elsewhere. Like for example dark-backed weaver, green-headed oriole, silvery-cheeked hornbill, retz’s helmet-shrike, crowned eagle just to name a few, all nice birds but not the real specials. In the forest up above Sanje Falls you might possibly see the endemic rufous-winged sunbird and perhaps Swynnerton’s robin. However to see any of the other real specials like the endemic partridge, the Iringa akalat, and other birds like Sharpe’s akalat, white-chested alethe, spot-throat (modulatrix) and possibly some montane grassland species, you have to go around to the west side of the Udzungwas to the village of Udekwa. You can drive to Udekwa from the Iringa road you then have to hike up to where the birds are, set up camp for a couple of days, of course you really need to take along a good bird guide who knows the area, it is not actually in the park so you need permission which along with porters can be arranged in the village (I haven’t done any of this). Organising all of this maybe a bit too much of a challenge for the average tourist but there must be people in Tanzania who could make all the arrangements for you. Or you can book a tour with BirdQuest as far as I’m aware they are the only birding company that go to the Udzungwas, certainly the only one I know off that takes birders to look for the partridge.

Also while staying at Mang’ula you can leave the park, drive down to the town of Ifakara and from there go out to find the endemic and recently discovered Kilombero weaver and two new cisticolas, from there you can also take a boat trip on the Kilombero River to look for water birds.
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#17 Paolo

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Posted 03 May 2012 - 09:50 PM

Thank you for a mine of information!

#18 Rainbirder

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Posted 04 May 2012 - 12:07 AM

I'm with Paolo, a superb write-up of a fantastic place.

Surely there is at least a new chameleon that they can name after you! :D

#19 inyathi

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Posted 04 May 2012 - 06:32 PM

Getting to UMNP

While the Udzungwas are a little off the beaten track visiting them at least the eastern side is actually very easy. The distance from Mikumi Town down to Mang’ula is only around 60kms so it only takes about an hour and is a very scenic drive on a reasonably good tarmac road. Unlike some other parks it is actually possible to UMNP by bus or if you have plenty of time and faith you can even arrive by train from Dar as there is a TAZARA station at Mang’ula and also one further south at Ifakara.

Accommodation

If your very short of time UMNP is so close to Mikumi NP that if you’re staying at one of the camps or lodges there you could just arrange a day trip to Udzungwa, leave early take a packed lunch and you can do the walk up to Sanje Falls and return to Mikumi for the night.

If you’re not short of time then you’ll want to stay at the park, inside the park around Mang’ula there are a number of TANAPA campsites where you can stay for 30 US$ a day but with very little in the way of facilities apart from being in the forest you don’t get a lot for your money. Just short of Mang’ula a little way off the main road is Udzungwa Forest Camp known as http://www.udzungwaforestcamp.com/' class='bbc_url' title='External link' rel='nofollow external'>Hondo-Hondo which means hornbill; this tented camp is for me much the nicest place to stay. While not inside the forest as such the camp is right on the park boundary so that the main tents are on the forest edge. The tents are reasonably spacious with ensuite bathrooms and all have electric lights and sockets for recharging. If you’re on a budget they also have a campground where you can pitch your own tent.

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The best thing about Hondo-Hondo is the bar/restaurant which is entirely open around the front facing the forest and the mountains, allowing you to sit and watch the colobus, Skyes’s monkeys and baboons feeding in the trees and the hornbills and other birds flying around. Even without the wildlife the view is beautiful; the fact that the beers are cold and the food is good makes it even better.

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The view from the bar at Hondo-Hondo

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Trumpeter Hornbill

The bathrooms at Hondo-Hondo are open around the top which gives you a bit of a window to the forest, but does of course also allow dudus to get in; likewise in the evenings there can be a few midges or such like in the open dining room. I suppose possibly the insects (and other creepy-crawlies) are a little bit worse than in other camps because you’re next to a rainforest. While such things don’t worry me too much, some people may want to be a little further away from nature in which case there are also some lodges/hotels in the area. TANAPA run a lodge called the Twiga Hotel just across the road from the park HQ, closer to Sanje Falls is the Udzungwa Falls Lodge this is the smartest lodge in the area but with 40 rooms and a conference centre it doesn’t look to me much like a place that’s aiming to attract nature lovers and hikers.

When to go

The park is accessible all the year round so theoretically you can go there anytime. However the main wet season from roughly mid March through May is best avoided since the chances of heavy rain are very high, making the trails much more difficult to negotiate and camping in the forest not a particularly pleasant experience. My most recent visit was in mid February which if you like birds is not a bad time to be in Tanzania generally, as nearly all the bishops, widows, whydahs etc will be in breeding plumage but some may find the Udzungwas unpleasantly hot and humid at this time. One advantage of going at this time if you don’t mind the heat is that there may not be too many other tourists there and the Sanje Falls should look pretty good, however there is a possibility that the rains could come early which makes going at the end of February and certainly in early March a bit risky. The dry season between June and October is the high season for visiting southern Tanzania and this is when most people go, of course the waterfalls won’t look quite as impressive, but at least there’s no danger of being rained off.

#20 TonyQ

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Posted 01 August 2014 - 06:57 AM

@inyathi

This is a superb detailed description of this park. It goes really wel with your trip report of your visit in 2012.

Thank you


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