Udzungwa Forest Lodge’s main attraction is Udzungwa Mountains National Park, which is well known for excellent hiking, trekking, mountain climbing and forest walks. With no road access and the only way in being on foot along one of the many trails, the mountains keep their secrets from all but the most adventurous. Once you’ve gained a little altitude, the forest canopy shields you from the heat of the sun and you can enjoy the forest along with the monkeys, elephants, birds, duikers and elephant shrews.
There are several trails ranging from short 20min strolls, to 5 day expeditions. The most popular hike is up to Sanje Waterfalls, looking for monkeys, swimming in plunge pools, and enjoying the spectacular view. This is the prime attraction for this area and if you are a keen walker then taking at least one of these hiking opportunities is strongly recommended. Bear in mind, however, that it is very hot, particularly at midday, and this can have a considerable effect on even the fittest of walkers. We offer pack lunches, so make a day of it!.
Hondo Hondo has everything needed for overnight hiking in the forest. We offer a package deal which includes tents, mattresses and bedding, porters, a cook and cooking equipment, food and if required, transport to and from the start of the trails – in short, everything you need for a successful trek. We even provide tarpaulin shelter for hikers using our services so you’re not confined to your tent in case of rain.
Usually people go up and down the short route – its the most straightforward and easiest route to the top. It is still quite a steep climb though, especially in the heat, so be prepared and take plenty of water with you. Put plenty of salt on your breakfast.The well trodden and well maintained trail zigzags its way up a ridge until half way up you reach a picnic bench and view point with spectacular views of the falls. A short dip follows to the junction of the path to the base of the falls (see below) and then the path then ascends slightly steeper to the top. At the top, you can follow a short path to the rocks on top of the falls, and have lunch, or maybe first continue up the path to enjoy a dip in the upper falls while you’re still hot and sweaty. Its only a short walk to the upper falls, the 2nd being the best for swimming in plunge pools. Beware in April/May if there has been a lot of rain – it will be obvious if its not safe to swim.
Njokamoni is a trail similar in length and altitude to Sanje – around 6.5km and ascending to around 700m. Njokamoni is less used, so its common to see several troupes of monkeys here, and possibly the troupe of habituated Mangebys. Its a good climb with a few view points on the way, and Njokamoni waterfalls is an impressive 40m single drop into a shallow pool, ideal for sitting and splashing around.
Sonjo is a short trail, taking on two waterfalls, both a cascade of water. Its a good option for less keen hikers as the path is not steep, and the trail is short, taking only 35 minute to reach the 3nd falls, but still passing through pristine rainforest. This trail is also a popular 2nd hike for those who have done Sanje the day before, and can be done on the way out of the park. It’s optional to “go and return” via the same path, or cross the water at the 2nd falls, and make a steep 30m up for a couple of hundred meters to the ridge and decend via a different path. Both paths meet the road withing 20m of each other.
Prince Bernhard’s falls is so named after Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands who visited Tanzania and opened the Udzungwa Mountains National Park aged 84. He was unable at that age to ascend to Sanje Waterfalls, so he hiked the short distance to these falls instead.
A great initiative of the Udzungwa Mountains National Park We arrange to take a hike into the forest and walk via radio direction straight to the troupe of Mangebys. This gives visitors the opportunity to observe them from very close quarters, undisturbed. It’s an excellent way to get close to this endemic species/genus without disruption to their natural habits. The Mangebys are very used to humans, and can come very close, allowing for the best photo opportunities and the chance to see this rare primate in great detail.
Mwanihana is a one or two night trek, taking you on a 38km round trip deep into the forest, and up to 2140m. The trail passes through a number of habitats, from miombo woodland, through grassy plateau, sub montane forest, montane forest, bamboo, and finally heather at the top. Its quite common to see elephants on this trail. The path begins at Sonjo village, and passes the two falls on the Sonjo trail. There are a few steepish sections interspersed between a steadily rising path from 300m to the campsite at 900m. The next morning you’ll start the hike early to ascend the 1250m to the peak. The path goes up and down for the first section along a grassy ridge, but once it reaches the forest (1500m), it ascends very steeply through giant trees. Half way, there is a cool and tasty trickling stream for filling water bottles. At around 1900m you suddenly leave the forest, and enter an area of bamboo – this zone has seen extensive depletion in recent years due to climate change and less rainfall on the mountain tops. From here, you can clearly see the three humps that make up the top of Mwanihana. The path circles around the tallest one, and after a fine view point on some flat rocks, tunnels through the heather to the trig point and weather station on the top.