Towering over the Kilombero Plains 350km southwest of Dar es Salaam are the wild, lushly forested slopes of the Udzungwa Mountains, portions of which are protected as part of the 1900-sq-km Udzungwa Mountains National Park – an intriguingly offbeat destination for anyone botanically inclined or interested in hiking away from the crowds.
In addition to an abundance of unique plants, the park is home to an important population of primates (10 species – more than in any of Tanzania’s other parks) as well as the grey-faced sengi (a species of elephant shrew). There are also elephants, buffaloes, leopards, hippos and crocodiles, although these – particularly hippos and crocodiles – are primarily in the park’s southwest and are seldom seen.
Birding is excellent, especially on the surrounding Kilombero floodplains. A good place to start is in the wetlands bordering the main road about 2km north of Mang'ula town, just below Hondo Hondo camp. Behind here, at the forest's edge, colobus and other primates are frequently spotted.