Udzungwa MountainsThe Udzungwa Mountains are a part of the famous eastern arc mountain range that is found in Tanzania. It is covered with rain forests and is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna some of which are very rare. The Udzungwa Mountain Park is situated at a distance of 348 km from Dar es Salaam and covers an area of around 1990 sq km. To the north east of the park lies the Mikumi national park and to the North West lies the mountain of Kilimanjaro. The mountain park is one of the outstanding Tanzania safari parks. In fact it is one of the best altitudinal forest ranges in Africa. The mountains of Udzungwa boast of a wilderness that is both pristine and exciting. It has also been classified as one of the World Bio-Diversity Hospots of which there are only 34 around the world. In addition to this it has also been named amongst the WWF Ecoregion of critical importance in the world.The park is accessible by road from Dar es Salaam and the ride takes around 6 hours. The Dar-Iringa road leads to Mikumi and from there the road to Udzungwa branches off south towards Ifakara. About 24 km further lies the town of Mang’ula which also happens to be the head quarters of the Udzungwa park. The place is also easily accessible by the railways as Mang’ula has a station by the name of Tazara on the Dar-Mbeya rail track. For the air travellers the nearby airports are Mikumi, Kilombero and Ifakara. Because of the easy transportation it is also a favourite destination for a relaxing trip on a weekend holiday.The most distinct feature of the Udzungwa Park is that it has no roads. Upon arrival the safari vehicles are left and onwards tour is conducted on foot. It is because of this that the best time to visit is considered to be during the dry season i.e. May-Nov, else one might find it difficult to negotiate the slippery mountain tracks and the overflowing rivers. An adventure safari into the park will allow one to witness the innumerable variety and species of flora and fauna that rest here. The Udzungwa Mountains are home to over 2500 species of plants ranging from the small Saint Paullia plants to the big over 30 m tall trees called Sterculia Appendiculata. More than 160 of the species found in the park are considered by botanists and classified as medicinal plants.The fauna population also boasts of similar variety and numbers. Although the park has animals like the elephants, buffaloes, lions, leopards, duikers both red and blue, bushbucks, honey badgers, hippopotamus and mongoose most of which can be seen at various safaris but there are also certain unique species of animals that can be found only here. There are a wide range of monkey species that can be seen ranging from Sanje mangabey, Iringa red Colobus Monkey, Matundu and Mountain dwarf galagos, black and white Colobus Monkey, yellow baboon and the Vervet Monkey.Although visitors come here are in a vacation mood however, strict rules are in place for the touring people on the Udzungwa safaris. There are several campsites that have been established near the head-quarter as well as on the trails. One has to reach these campsites by 7 PM. There are ten trails along the eastern and western sides of the park and the adventure safari enthusiasts have to stick to these trails and cannot venture off it. No one is allowed to take anything from the park except pictures, they cannot prick flowers or plants or any thing else. Also nothing should be left behind on the trail or in the park in general except footprints.
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