Udzungwa is the largest and most biodiverse range in the chain of forest – swathed Tanzania mountains known collectively as the Eastern Arc. This archipelago of isolated massifs has been dubbed the African Galapagos for its treasure – trove of endemic plants and animals, most familiarly the delicate African violet. Udzungwa alone among these ancient mountains has been accorded National Park status. And it is unique in that its closed – canopy forest spans altitude of 250m (820 feet) to more than 2.000m (6.560 feet) above sea level. Udzungwa is a magnet for hikers.
An excellent network of forest trails includes the popular half-day ramble to Sanje Waterfall, which plunges 170m (550 feet) through a misty spray into the high plateau, with its panoramic views over surrounding sugar plantations, before ascending to the second – highest peak Mwanihana. Ornithologists are attacked 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 monkey and Sanje Crested Mangabey both occur nowhere else in the world – while other endemic, the previously undescribed giant elephant shrew, was first photographed here as recently as 2005. Undoubtedly, this great forest has yet to reveal all its treasures: Ongoing scientific exploration will surely add to its diverse catalogue of endemics.
Getting there: a five hour drive from Dar-es-Salaam (350km / 215miles), 65km (40 miles) southwest of Mikumi