Udzungwa is the largest and with most biodiversity and a chain of a dozen large forest-swathed mountains that rise majestically from the flat coastal scrub of eastern Tanzania. Known collectively as the Eastern Arc Mountains, this archipelago of isolated massifs has also been dubbed as the African Galapagos for its treasure-trove of endemic plants and animals, most familiarly being the delicate African violet.
Udzungwa alone among the ancient ranges of the Eastern Arc has been accorded the national park status. 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. An excellent network of forest trails includes the popular ramble to Sanje Waterfall, which plunges 170 meters (550 feet) through a misty spray into the forested valley below.
The Mwanihana Trail leads to the high plateau, with its panoramic views over the surrounding sugar plantations, before ascending to Mwanihana peak, the second-highest point in the range.
Udzungwa has 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. And six primate species recorded, Undoubtedly, this great forest has yet to reveal all its treasures: ongoing scientific exploration will surely add to its diverse catalogue of endemics.
Location: Five hours (350 km/215 miles) from Dar es Salaam; 65 kms (40 miles) southwest of Mikumi