MEET KITULO NATIONAL PARK, THE SERENGETI OF FLOWERS
Meet Kitulo National Park : What Tanzanians are proud of is that their country has every kind of attraction to make their visitors repeat their trip. This is true because Tanzania has dedicated about 75% of its total land to be protected for wildlife tourism. Apart from being home to the world’s tallest freestanding mountain, Mount Kilimanjaro, the world’s most celebrated national park, Serengeti National Park, and the world’s largest intact caldera, the Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania hosts the spectacular flowers sanctuary in the world, the Kitulo National Park. Renowned as “Bustani Ya Mungu” (Swahili words for God’s Garden), Kitulo National Park is an incredible tourist destination in the Southern Circuit of Tanzania. Botanists and other visitors interested in observing flowers and other plant species found this park an interesting place for them to do their research. Therefore, it is called “Serengeti of Flowers” as it hosts over 350 species of vascular plants including 45 species of terrestrial orchids.
Kitulo National Park is a 14th National Park located in southern Tanzania between the Njombe and Mbeya regions. On its aim to preserve various plant and flower species, the government of Tanzania decided to protect the area in the Kitulo Plateau (about 2600 meters above sea level). It was honored as a national park back in 2005 and is under the management of the Tanzania National Parks Authority (TANAPA). It occupies a total area of about 412 square kilometers. Kitulo National Park is very close to Mbeya city. Therefore, the simplest route is from Mbeya where you will get superb accommodation facilities.
By Road. You can drive using either public or private transport from any region in Tanzania to Kitulo National Park. From Dar es Salaam you can hire a private for comfortability. On your way to Njombe, you will enjoy other beautiful scenes including the famous Kitonga Mountains. From Mbeya, it is about 60 kilometers long to this park via Isyonji road. You will pass through Myeba town and to Matamba village.
By Air. Kitulo National Park is only accessible through car drive because it has no its own airstrip. Therefore, you will have to book an air ticket from any region to Songwe Airport or Njombe Airport. After landing at these parks, you will drive to Kitulo National Park using either public or private transport.
The best time to visit Kitulo National Park is between December to April. At this time the flowers grow and appear clearly during the dry season (September to November). Therefore, Kitulo National Park is highly visited during the rainy season.
Plant species and Flowers. Kitulo National Park is home to various flowers including 40 ground orchids. This park becomes a floral print for every tourist who wishes to explore the extraordinary landscapes covered with stunning trees and flowers. About 350 species of vascular plants are found in Kitulo National Park making it a place of botanic explorations. About 45 species of orchids are found, 16 of which are endemic to Kitulo and Poroto Mountains, and three of them are found in Kitulo National Park only. In order to enjoy the most amazing scenes of plants and flowers, you will have to plan your trip between late November to April. You won’t regret taking this trip. Some of the rare orchid species you will view at Kitulo National Park include aloes, giant lobelias, lilies, proteas, yellow-orange, red hot poker, aster daisies, and geraniums. These species are only endemic to southern Tanzania thus Meet Kitulo National Park.
Birds. Kitulo National Park is home to various bird species which reside in the Kitulo Plateau. If you are interested in birdwatching, you will find this place so attractive and interesting for you. Birds are usually encountered in the Alpine grasslands and Montare forests. Some of the frequently encountered birds in Kitulo National Park include rare Denham’s bustard, Njombe cisticola, Kipengere seedeater, mountain marsh widow, whistling ducks, open-billed storks, red knobbed coot, lesser kestrel, endangered blue swallow, pallid harrier, and European white stork. Birders usually start their safari early in the morning. This can be on a guided nature walk or on a game drive.
Wild animals. Apart from being home to floral species, Kitulo National Park hosts some wild animals which are very incredible to watch. Most wild animals are found in the Kitulo Plateau and in the magnificent Kipengere and Poroto Mountains. Therefore, the animals you will encounter are the ones well suited to survive in the mountainous regions. Such animals include primates like vervet monkeys, kipunji monkeys (the newly discovered monkey species in Africa) and colobus monkeys. These primates are usually spotted hanging on trees and on the hilly places within the Kitulo Plateau, Kipengere and Poroto mountains. Other wild animals found in Kitulo National Park include reedbucks, waterbucks, zebras, and elands. Reptiles like chameleon and insects like butterflies are also frequently spotted in this forestry park.
Mount Livingstone. This is a spectacular point for mountain climbers. It is covered by various trees which are home to various mountainous animals and birds. your hiking safari will be more amazing as you will encounter various wild animals. Plant species like Ocotea usambarensis, Joniperus procera, Hagenia abyssinia and Khaya athoceca cover the top and base of Mount Livingstone.
Waterfalls. The landscape of Kitulo National Park is mountainous. Therefore, waterfalls are abundant in this park. Visitors can enjoy bathing themselves in the waterfalls. Some such waterfalls fall down with some pebbles and sometimes are deep, therefore you have to ask your tour guide before starting your bath. Three famous waterfalls found in this park Nhumbe waterfall, Mwakipembo waterfall and Usalama waterfall.
Matema Beach. Found in Kyela district, Matema beach is clean brown sandy shore located in the north of Lake Nyasa. It lies on the endpoint of Livingstone mountains. Visiting this beach will make you enjoy the beautiful breeze of Lake Nyasa. Other things you will enjoy on your trip to Matema beach include canoeing and waterfalls in the Livingstone Mountains.
Nhumbe valley. From this valley, originates the Nhumbe river the tributary of the Great Ruaha River. Nhumbe valley is surrounded by Juniper forest. This place is so interesting to observe as it offers spectacular views of hilly and escarpments like that of the Great Rift Valley, in the northern Tanzania.
Activities to in the Kitulo National Park.
Walking safaris. Since Kitulo National Park is small in size, most of its attractions are very close to each other. Therefore, a guided walk will reward you with the scenes of various reliefs and flora species. For instance, Mwakipembo waterfall is 4 kilometers from Mwakipembo main while Nhumbe waterfall is about 15 kilometers from Mwakipembo main. Therefore, on a long walking safari you can reach these two waterfalls. You can walk through Livingstone grasslands and finally to the Matema beach thus Meet Kitulo National Park.
Canoeing. Kitulo National Park is neighbored by two stunning lakes, Lake Nyasa and Lake Ngozi, the second largest crater lake in Africa. At Matema beach, you can book a canoe and enjoy yourselves in this wonderful lake. You will interact with other locals especially the fishermen and learn more about their culture. The catch-and-release fishing is offered by many boat safari organizers. In the Lake Ngozi, you are allowed to do canoeing if you want to.
Hiking and mountaineering. The hilly landscape of Kitulo National Park allows you to hike to various peaks especially in the Livingstone Mountains. Matamba ridge, Nhumbe valley and Nhumbe waterfalls are the three places which are reachable through hiking.
Game viewing. Honestly, the number of wild animals in Kitulo National Park is very minimum. Therefore, you will miss the views of some amazing Big Five animals such as the black rhino, buffaloes, elephants, leopards and lions. But you will enjoy the scenes of other mountainous animals like colobus monkeys, rare kapunji monkeys, vervet monkeys, reedbucks, waterbucks, zebras, and elands.
Flower exploration. As I said earlier Kitulo National Park is home to various flower species. Flower exploration is one of the important activities to be done in this park. There are various kinds of flowers including 45 species of orchids and others for you to observe.
Bird watching. Hosting about 250 bird species, Kitulo National Park is a superb place for birders and ornithologists. It consists of endemic species found in southern Tanzania only. These include Denham’s bustard, Njombe cisticola and Kipengere seedeater.
Based on your choice, various accommodation facilities are available at Kitulo National Park. Seasonal campsites are available. They include Mwakipembo Public Campsite and Maua Special Campsite. Services provided by these campsites include campfire, toilet, shower, camping ground and all meals. In order to have to have your space reserved at Maua Campsite you will have to book.
There are other accommodation facilities outside the park which offer VVIP services to their customers. These include three-stars hotels such as Mbeya Garden City Hotel, Mikuyu Royal Hotel, Landmark Hotel, Royal Tughimbe Hotel and Mbeya Hotel. Other accommodations include Diliku Mini Motel, Hunge Lodge and Camp, Blue Canoe Safari Camp, Matema Lake Shore Resort, Church Run Hostels, Zebra Guest House, God’s Garden Hotel, Eden Motel and Mama Izengo Guest.
The description of a thing in words is much associated with errors. This is because a narrator is always limited to using words which can’t explain that thing perfectly. My point is that, seeing by yourself is better than letting someone narrate you about it. Plan a trip to Kitulo National Park. I assure that you won’t regret.