Tanzania Trekking - The Uluguru Mountains

The Uluguru Mountains

Reaching to almost 3000m, these ancient hills form part of the eastern Arc Mountains, which include the Pare Mountains in Northeast and the Usambara in the East. Apart from forming a spectacular backdrop to Morogoro town itself, the Uluguru Mountains are the gateway to southern Tanzania and the southern safari circuit. Because of this, many tourists merely pass through them without stopping, admiring and photographing their convoluted slopes from a distance as they motor on towards Mikumi or Ruaha National park, or marveling at the spectacular scenery viewed from the high passes en route to the Selous Game Reserve.

But these 600 million year old formations provide some of the best walking trips one can experience outside protected areas. Using Morogoro town as a base, one can make excursions to various parts of these stunningly beautiful mountains, and experience anything from strolls through "shambas" (farms) and small villages, to hikes through forests and wooded valley, right up the scale to serous hill walking and mountain climbing to the higher summits.

Scenic walks climb over high, exposed passes which give awesome, panoramic views across the plains and woodlands to the misty horizons of the East and South, or drop deep into lush valley, winding between weird and ancient natural sculptures of Dolomite, which appear surreal and Tolkinesque against the backdrop of candelabra-branched Euphobia and towering, golden-barked Sterculia trees.

The adventurous walker can experience gully climbing and canyoning on the north western slopes fresh, ice-cold steams tumbling down falls of gneiss and granite, threading though wild, open heathland or verdant valleys; or he can jungle-trek through a 25 million year old rain forest reserve that straddles the Matombo road going South. Dark with tall pillarwoods, buttressed Mahogany and Teak, giant leaved Raffia Palms and harts-Tongue, tangled with liana as thick as one’s arm and strangler vines that can choke a mature tree to death.

The wildlife one can expect to see in the less inhabited or more forested areas includes yellow Baboon, blue Monkey, black and White colobus Monkey and small forest antelopes such as the Duiker. Other wildlife exists, but is either shy or nocturnal and therefore rarely seen, and includes Bushbabies, Genets, Civets and other small predatory mammals and cats, birdlife is abundant everywhere.

For those with limited time there are easily accessible walks from Morogoro town. The Kola Hill Hotel on the outskirts of the town provides a good base and has a resident local guide. From here, one can trek directly from the hotel gates up though shambas and banana plantations in to the lower foothills of the mountain, or make short vehicle incursions to start walks at slightly higher altitudes. These types of treks, ranging from two hours to a full day in duration, provide the visitor with a good overview of rural life combined with quality, low impact interaction with the local populace. As one passes out of the lower villages and begins to climb, the cultivated land gives way to more natural vegetation.

Bird watchers will find myriad species to enthral them, and to collect 30 or 40 different birds on a half day hike is not an unreasonable expectation; smaller songbirds, sunbirds, seedeaters and flycatchers thrive on the lower slopes, hornbills and turacos inhabit the forests and raptors soar above the higher, more open areas.

For those walking without a guide, river and stream courses provide not only a lush and varied habitat, but also an easy route to follow out and back to the vehicle or start point.

How to get there
By car or inter-city bus from Dar es Salaam or other major towns. The roads from Dar es Salaam to Morogoro are in very good repair for most of the journey, which takes between two and three hours. Recommended bus service is the Scandinavian Bus Company, Express coach.

Last Updated on Thursday 26th November 2009