Covering an area of 1,990 square kilometers, Udzungwa Mountains National Park is one of the largest national parks in Tanzania.
The Park was named by the Germans presumably after the Wasungwa people who dwell in the surroundings of the Park. It constitutes of tropical rainforest, mountain forest, miombo woodland, grassland and steppe.
As of 2019, the Park was declared a national park 27 years ago (in 1992) by a Dutch prince – Prince Bernhard, the founder of World Wide Fund (WWF) as well.
Attractions in the Park
The Park has a lot of attractions that its annual visitors always take pleasure of. However, tourism in this Park whirls around hiking and trekking, as the park has no roads and is accessible only on foot.
The hiking trails range in difficulty from the short one-hour Sonjo trek to the extremely challenging 6-days camping trek, the Lumemo Trail.
The most common walk is the Sanje Waterfalls trail which takes approximately four hours to complete and allows the visitor access to the stunning 170 meters waterfall and includes swimming in the waterfall plunge pools as part of the activity.
Furthermore, there are more than 400 bird species, 2500 plant species (25% of which are endemics) and 6 primate species. It has the second largest biodiversity of a national park in Africa.
Six primate species that have been recorded in the Park include five which are endemic. The Iringa red Colobus and Sanje crested mangabey are only found in the Udzungwa Mountains National Park, the mangabey species was undetected by biologists prior to 1979.
Accommodations in Udzungwa Mountain National Park
Accommodation for visitors within the park is only possible on a camping basis as there are really few lodges within the park borders.
However, within the nearby villages there are also a couple of local guesthouses providing mainly a budget option. Among the accommodations though, include:
Udzungwa Falls Lodge
Graciously located on the slopes of Udzungwa Mountains National park is the beautiful Udzungwa Falls Lodge. All the guests who have stayed here have been consistent in praise for its hospitality, warm service and delicious foods.
The Udzungwa hikes, waterfalls, flora and fauna coupled with wild game make this place a must-visit.
Set up as an idyllic and romantic weekend escape and a truly magnificent family vacation getaway; with 40 en-suite rooms the lodge has been carefully constructed to cause minimal impact on the surrounding Udzungwa forest which acts as a catchment area for water that is used domestically in the village and for irrigation in the sugarcane plantations.
Among the facilities at the lodge include; a swimming pool, a well equipped kitchen, a bar, a bakery, coffee shop, a conference centre, and of course electricity supply is by a standby generator – which is ever on 24/7.
Udzungwa Forest Camp – Hondo Hondo
Udzungwa Forest Tented Camp sits in the lush green grounds of the Udzungwa Mountains National Park, in the Kilombero valley in southern Tanzania.
The lodge is known locally as Hondo Hondo meaning “hornbill” in Swahili, due to the amazing number of these remarkable birds which make the area their home.
Hondo Hondo Tented Camp offers six Forest en-suite tented rooms situated along or overlooking the forest boundary and providing a comfortable accommodation experience.
Each is well equipped, with all furniture made from locally available renewable sources such as coconut wood and bamboo.
All beds boast comfortable spring mattresses, so you can be sure of getting good night sleeps, and the soft throws over the beds are made by the local Ifakara Women Weavers group, who are one of the lodge’s community support projects.
The open-air bathrooms offer views up into the nearby forest canopy while you shower, and are equipped with western-style flush toilets, solar hot water “rain” showers, sink and shaver socket.
All our hot water is heated using solar energy alone. Electric lighting is provided through the camp with low-energy LED bulbs, and each tent is equipped with lighting, personal solar reading lights, a solar fan and a socket for charging phones and cameras.
These comfortable and well appointed canvas rooms make an excellent change from the usual range of places to stay, and as you fall asleep you can listen to the sound of elephants passing by in the night, or the tree hyraxes calling in the trees.
Hondo Hondo’s lush green grounds are on the border of the pristine rain-forest and offer excellent views of the forest canopy.
The forest is home to a number of primate species, including the endemic Udzungwa Red Colobus, the remarkable Sanje Crested Mangabey, and the Black and White Colobus.
A number of different hornbill species fly in over the forest edge and settle in trees along the borders of the rain-forest in large numbers every evening at sunset, and the valley echoes with their distinctive calls.
Set up on a hill, bordering the forest of the Udzungwa Mountains National Park, Hondo Hondo offers five traditional thatched huts, providing a comfortable alternative to a camping tent.
Homey and rustic, the huts are furnished with double and single beds and mosquito nets. This is a good budget accommodation option for those who are cash-conscious travelers and don’t have their own tent.
Toilet and showers are communal and situated near the huts, with more available down the path in the campsite.
Camping at Hondo Hondo
The camping facilities at Udzungwa Forest Tented Camp’s Campsite are well maintained and provide for all the needs of the traveler/camper in Tanzania.
The attractive campsite lies 300 meters away from the road with stunning views up across the Udzungwa Mountains forest canopy.
Facilities include well-maintained showers with solar heated water, western-style toilets, access to the lodge bar and restaurant, simple self catering cooking area, a fire pit with comfortable natural seating for evening relaxation, and comfortable seating/dining area.
Generally, special camping can be arranged within the Udzungwa Mountains National Park itself. You have the option of the overnight Sanje hike, the longer two nights Mwanihana hike, or the serious 4 night Lumemo Trail.
You will trek into the rain-forest where you will spend the night below the canopy, in a campsite high up in the mountains.
Everything will be arranged 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.