Kitulo National Park – Bustani ya Mungu (Garden of God)
Kitulo National Park – Bustani ya Mungu (Garden of God): Kitulo plateau national park which is also referred to as Bustani ya Mungu (Garden of God) by the locals and the Serengeti of flowers is located in the southern part of Tanzania, it rises at an elevation of 2600meters between Kipengere and Poroto Mountain peaks. The national park was first established in 2002 by President Benjamin Mkapa and later gazetted as a national park in 2005 as the first national park in tropical Africa to protect the flora. The park covers a total area of 413 square kilometers which is composed of Kitulo plateau which is a natural resting site for intercontinental migrating birds on their way to Europe, alpine grasslands and Montane forests which act as habitats for various wildlife including few animals like elands, reedbucks, waterbucks, primates like vervet monkeys, kipunji monkeys, colobus monkeys, reptiles like chameleon, lizards, birds, butterflies among others.
Kitulo national park was established as part of Tanzania National Park Authority (TANAPA) which protects flora and promotes the growth of rare orchids for international trade and also attract many visitors throughout the year. The national park is best known for harboring about 350 plant species including wildflowers such as 45 endemic orchid species like aloes, proteas, yellow orange red hot poker, giant lobelias, lilies, geraniums, aster daisies and other species which are endemic to southern Tanzania.
Things to do in Kitulo national park
Bird watching, Kitulo national park is one of the ideal birding destinations in Tanzania with different mountain bird species, endemic species and migratory species. Bird watching in the park is carried out with the help of an experienced birding guide who will help you to spot different bird species such as lesser kestrel, pallid harrier, endangered blue swallow, mountain marsh widow, kipengere seedeater, rare Denham’s bustard, njombe cisticola, European white stork among others. Bird lovers on a birding safari are however advised to carry a pair of binocular for clear viewing of distant birds and a camera to take photos of different bird species.
Mountain climbing, this is an adventurous activity in the park where you will climb mount Rungwe and have spectacular views of animals like reedbucks, elands, primates like vervet monkeys, kipunji monkeys, different bird species, plants among others during hiking and once you reach the summit you will have incredible views of the park.
Guided nature walks, Kitulo park offers fascinating nature walks where visitors are allowed to explore the park on foot with the company of an armed park ranger. Nature walks are best done in the morning or late in the evening following different walking trails such as walks across the grasslands, Livingstone Mountains which lead you to Matema beach on Lake Nyasa. During the guided nature walks you will get close and personal with wildlife species in the park such as waterbucks, elands, vervet monkeys, colobus monkeys, view colorful butterflies, reptiles like chameleon, lizards, breath fresh air, enjoy views of the sunrise, relax your mind in a peaceful environment, have stunning views of brightly colored orchids, take beautiful photos among others.
Swimming, Kitulo national park also offers swimming activity which is carried out in Ruaha River which gives visitors an opportunity to get refreshed.
Best time to visit Kitulo national park
Kitulo national park can be visited anytime throughout the year but the best time is during the wet season in the months of December to April because this is the period when the park receives rainfall which supports the growth of wildflowers therefore botanists will have breathtaking and stunning views of brightly colored flowers. The wet season is also the best time for butterfly viewing and birding where bird lovers will be able to view migratory bird species.
The national park can also be visited in the dry season during the months of June to October because that’s the best time for hiking in that hiking trails will be passable due to less rainfall and it’s also the best time to spot some wildlife species due to less vegetation.
Where to stay in Kitulo national park
There are a number of accommodation facilities ranging from luxury, midrange, budget and campsites where you can stay during your safari in Kitulo national park. There is no accommodation in the park but basic accommodations are available at the adjacent Kitulo farm and in Mbeya, Matamba, Matema beach. The accommodations include Landmark hotel Tukuyu Mbeya, Mikuyu Royal hotel, Mbeya Golden city hotel, Diliku mini motel, Itunge lodge and camp, Royal Tughimbe hotel, Karibuni center, Mbeya Hotel, Malasi Rest house, Blue Canoe Safari camp, Matema Lake Shore Resort, Church Run hostels among others.
How to get to Kitulo national park
the national park is located in the southwestern part of Tanzania and the park headquarters is found at Matamba in the Mbeya region and can be accessed by road transport means where you will drive from Chimala town along Dar es salaam-Mbeya highway to Matamba which is a temporary park headquarters. From Matamba park gate it takes about one hour to Kitulo plateau in a 4WD safari vehicle.
You can also access Kitulo national park by rail transport by boarding TAZARA Tanzania Zambia railway Authority train from Dar es Salaam to Mpanda via Tobora and then hire a taxi to the park headquarters.
Kitulo national park is an ideal destination to visit during your safari in Tanzania in that it harbors unique wildlife species including endemic and endangered bird species and endemic orchid species which make it the best destination for botanists. For more information or safari packages in Kitulo national park you can contact Focus East Africa Tours.