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Kitulo National Park

Some people call Kitulo National Park the “Garden of God”. It is one of the leading nature reserves in Africa and has mountain meadows and forests. The Kitulo Plateau is located in the southern highlands of Tanzania. It is the first national park in tropical Africa that was established primarily to protect its flora.

Flora in the national park

Botanists call the Kitulo Plateau the “Serengeti of Flowers” because it is home to one of the largest flower deposits in the world. In total around 400 plant species live in the montane grasslands. The plateau has more than 45 species of orchids, geophytes, aloes, proteas, geraniums, giant lobelia, lilies and aster daisies and other afro-alpine plants. These mountain meadows are florishing during the rainy season from November to April. You can find many species only in the Kipengere Mountains and the nearby highlands. Brachystelma kituloensis, Impatiens rosulata, and Pterygodium Ukingense can only be found in the Kitulo National Park.

Kitulo’s orchids

Internationally, the flower trade in orchids is large. However, the threat to Kitulo’s orchids came from a different source. In the culture of many ethnic groups the harvest of orchid bulbs for food has a long history. They prepare a dish, known as Chikanda or Kinaka, which is similar to a meatless sausage. After the harvest, they dry the tubers. Then they beat and cook them. Originally a rural delicacy, it was eaten more often in increasing quantities and the gathering of orchids for commercial purposes grew dramatically. This trade was a serious risk to orchids in the southern highlands. Because of it, the plateau became a protected national park. Many visitors also come to Kitulo Plateau national park because  its vast abundance of wildflowers, birds, and grass-eating mammals.

Wildlife in Kitulo Plateau National Park

Except for a few mountain reedbucks and eland, the occurrence of large animals in Kitulo is not very large. But plants, birds and butterflies make up for life in the park. The rare chimpanzee, blue swallow, red chalk hawk, njembe stalksinger, kipengere seed eater, steppe harrier, zebra, kipunji monkey, chameleon, lizards, frogs, spiders and other small insects are native to the park.

Most common animals in Kitulo Plateau National Park

  • Mountain reedbucks
  • Eland
  • Blue swallow
  • Chalk hawk
  • Njembe stalksinger
  • Kipengere seed eater
  • Steppe harrier
  • Zebra
  • Kipunji monkey
  • Chameleon
  • Birds and butterflies
kitulo plateau national park bird

Kitulo Plateau National Park highlights

  • located at an altitude of 2,600 m
  • between the peaks of Kipengere, Poroto and Livingstone
  • known as “Garden of God” and “Serengeti of Flowers”

Facts about Kitulo Plateau National Park

  • area of ​​412 km²
  • in the Mbeya / Njombe region
  • opened in 2005
  • 400 plant species
  • more than 45 species of orchids

Activities in Kitulo Plateau National Park

It is possible to take a nice hike, as the park provides great opportunities to take close-up pictures of the magnificent flora and to watch birds from close.

Travel time to Kitulo Plateau National Park

Kitulo is best reached from Mbeya. It only takes a 1.5 hrs drive.

From Iringa it takes 5.5 hrs by car.

Travel Tips from our experts about Kitulo Plateau National Park

My name is Hamisi and I am a guide in Kitulo Plateau National Park since 9 years. Our guests mainly like this park due to the abundance of of flowers and orchids. When they florish on the slopes the plateau looks like a beautiful colourful carpet!

How long to stay? 1 day

Best time to visit Kitulo Plateau National Park

Travelers should plan to visit Kitulo during the months of December through April. This is the rainy season for most of Tanzania, but it is the best time to visit Kitulo Plateau National Park for experiencing the abundance and array of flora.

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