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Enchanted forests

Tanzania’s wildlife reserves are usually synonymous with sun-baked acacia-studded plains. But it’s possible to combine the savannah with a refreshing visit to the jungle-cloaked Udzungwa Mountains National Park. Here’s our guide to this remote region. By Lizzie Williams

We’d already skirted the rain-shadowed north-western side of the Udzungwas along the Great Ruaha River gorge coming up the Tanzam Highway from Ruaha National Park. The deliciously moist and brilliantly green tree canopy had looked cool and inviting, especially after our hot and dusty game drives along the park’s dry sand rivers. So we ventured to the Udzungwa Mountains as part of our self-drive safari of Tanzania’s ‘southern circuit’ — the Selous, Ruaha and Mikumi. It was a chance to get out of the vehicle and stretch our legs, enjoy the fresh air and beautiful forest and perhaps see an unusual creature or two.

The approach to the park is from Mikumi, the truck-andbus stop town haphazardly strung along the busy Tanzam Highway — the major A7 road linking Dar es Salaam with land-locked Zambia. From here a scenic 60km drive took us south along the Ifakara road and onto the 35km-wide floodplain of the Kilombero Valley, a prosperous and intensively cultivated agricultural area fed by the streams coming down from the Udzungwas. Neat fields of crops bursting from the rich soil, and red-brick villages of well-kept yards with fat chickens and mango trees, exuded an air of contentment and well-being, an atmosphere reminiscent of other mountain communities such as those around Morogoro at the base of the Ulugurus and Lushoto in the Usambaras.

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About Travel Africa

Come rain or shine - how the seasons affect your safari experience • On foot in Mana Pools • 5 Amazing islands in Mozambique • Guide to Tanzania's Udzungwa Mountains • South Africa's emotive Battlefields • Why Tsavo West? • Tree-climbing lions in Uganda • Cultural journey through Côte d'Ivoire... and much more!