The Uluguru Mountains are situated in the Eastern part of Tanzania about 200 km to the west of Dar es Salaam city along Dar es Salaam – Dodoma / Iringa highway. It is stretching approximately 20Km wide and 100 km long. The main Uluguru Mountains are a ridge of running approximately north-south and rising to 2,630 m altitude at their highest point. On the main Uluguru range there is known as Uluguru Nature Reserve (UNR) which includes the Uluguru South, Uluguru North, Bunduki Forest and Bunduki gap. The UNR have a total area of 24,115.09 ha and boundary length of about 197km.
Before being declared as a Nature reserve, Uluguru Nature Reserve (UNR) comprised Uluguru south and Uluguru north forest reserves, Bunduki I and Bunduki II forest plantations as well as Bunduki gap. Formerly the forest reserves were managed by the Morogoro Regional Catchments Forest Project. The UNR is classified as protected area whereby timber harvesting and other human activities are not allowed.
The process to establish UNR started in 2004 with the support from the Conservation and Management of Eastern Arc Mountain Forests (CMEAMF) Project. The UNR is declared as the Nature Reserve in the Government Notice No. 296 of 7/11/2008. It is situated under the surveyed area plan Jb No 2541a and the border schedule No. Jb 2541b.
The Uluguru Nature Reserve (UNR) is owned by the Central Government through Tanzania Forest Service (TFS) Agency of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism (MNRT). The administration framework for UNR as other Nature Reserves in Tanzania falls under the Executive Agency Framework and Government Administrative System.
The Uluguru Nature Reserve is part of the Eastern Arc Mountains (EAM), which run from Taita Hills in Southern Kenya to the Udzungwa Mountain in south central Tanzania. The UNR is located between Latitudes 6051’ - 7012’S and Longitudes 37036’ - 37045’E or 9200000-9240000 Northings and 0345200 – 0365100 Eastings. It falls under Morogoro Municipality and Morogoro Rural and Mvomero Districts. The UNR is located in the Eastern part of Tanzania about 180 km from Dar es Salaam along the Dar es Salaam- Mbeya highway.
“To protect the unique, biologically important rain forest ecosystem of the Uluguru Nature Reserve and to maintain biodiversity, genetic resources, natural processes and cultural values in an undisturbed, dynamic and evolutionary state in order to have ecologically representative example of the Eastern Arc forest ecosystem available for present and future generations as well as to enhance scientific study, environmental monitoring, environmental education, and sustainable controlled local and recreational use”
To maintain biodiversity status, ecosystem services/functions, water catchment values (water quality and quantity) and improve livelihoods of the UNR‘s adjacent communities through poverty eradication mechanism.
The UNR is accessible through Bunduki to Nyachiro, Bunduki to Vinile, Morogoro town to Morning site, Morogoro town to Bigwa, Kinole to Tegetero, Matombo - Tawa to Nyingwa, Mvuha – Bwakila juu to Lusange, Kibaoni – Nyandira to Tchenzema roads. The UNR is surrounded by 58 villages.
The UNR Headquarter office is reached from Morogoro town by taking the Morogoro town -Bigwa/ Kilakala tarmac road for 6 km. At the signboard to the Uluguru Nature Reserve office turn right and continue for 1.5 km along a dirt road. The office is at the end of the road on the right hand side. When coming from Dar es Salaam the office can be reached from the main Morogoro – Dar es Salaam highway by turning left just after the Lutheran Junior Seminary onto the Bibwa/ Kilakala road and continue for 4.5 km until the left turn to the Nature Reserve Office(signboards are always directing you)
The UNR has undulating physical features, dominated by hilly mountains which represent good sceneries. The lowest point is at Bunduki gap (600m a.s.l) and the highest point is at Kimhandu (2638m a.s.l). However, some areas of the UNR are inaccessible due to steep rocky outcrops.
The bigger portion of Uluguru mountain forest and their foot hills are mosaic type of forest mixed with woodland and grassland in some areas. The mixture also includes riverline and sacred forests in the public land. With the exception of rock outcrops, for the Uluguru Nature Reserve, sub montane forest (canopy 30 – 50 m tall) occurs below 1500m a.s.l., montane forest (canopy 15 – 30 m tall) above 1500m – 2400 m and upper montane forest (canopy 15 – 20 m tall) above 2400 m altitude.
The mountains are well known Nationaly and Internationaly for their biodiversity composition and water catchments functions. Nationally they are the second biodiversity – richest after Usambara Mountains, and are ranked eighth in Africa. Uluguru Mountains not only contain variaties of species, but also host rare and endemic plant and animal species. Animal species endemic to the mountains include birds such as Uluguru Bush-shrike (Fig. 2) and loveridges sunbird, also the reptiles such as lizard, Uluguru three-horned chamelion, other animals found in Uluguru includes male and female Uluguru one horned chameleon (Bradypodion oxyrhinum) also male and female Uluguru two horned chameleon (Bradypodion fischeri uluguruensis). Endemic plant species among others are, Allanblackia uluguruensis and saint-paulia goetzeana. Uluguru endemic toads are Nectophrynoides pseudotornieri from Uluguru North and Nectophrynoides laevis from Uluguru South.
Uluguru Nature Reserve has several tourism attractions. Special sites and features in the UNR include sacred forests, summits and view points like Kimhandu summit, Kitumbaku ridges, Lupanga peaks and Bondwa peak where by various communication towers like that of TTCL are installed and therefore need special attention. Other features include Lukwangule plateau, the famous Morning side, Kibwe and Hululu water falls; headquarter of the Waluguru’s traditional leader, Chief Kingalu Mwanabanzi XIV and. These features attract local and foreign tourists
The sacred forests in the UNR are usually used by adjacent communities for traditional worshiping and rituals. Examples of such sacred forest are Ugulo clan forest in Tegetero village under Wanyani and Nyanyiko clans around Bigwa village. Also there is a natural pond near Bagilo village which is used for worshiping by local communities and is considered to be a sacred site. These sacred sites are potential eco-tourism attractions. The Bunduki gap is a special area which links Uluguru North and South. Also it acts as a corridor for wildlife movement between the two parts of the Nature Reserve. This area is restored through natural regeneration and/or gap planting. The Bunduki I & II forest plantations need special attention as the current stock can be removed and generate revenue.
A historic site with its origin from German settlers (Old German settlements). It was built in 1911 and came into operational in 1970s. Morning side is located 6.8km south –east of Morogoro town at 1000m a.s.l. The area is accessible by car for about 6.3 km. The remaining distance (0.5km) has to be walked. It is said that during the First World War, women and children from neighbouring areas, including Morogoro town were taken to be hidden there. An area is also good site for bird watching, endemic bird species in Uluguru such as Uluguru Bush-shrike and loveridges sunbird can be easily observed.
Lupanga Peak is located in Uluguru North , east-south of Morogoro town at 2138 m a.s.l. A walk to the peak may be dangerous in the wet season. It is recommended to use a local tour guide. Tour guides can be availed from Chilunga Cultural Tourism offices; opposite Morogoro Regional Hospital. On the way you can see birds like Livingston Turaco, Silvery-cheeked Hornbills and others. Since the route passes through the forest reserve (rainy forest) you need to obtain a permit from the Uluguru Nature Reserve office.
Lukwangule plateau is located in the Uluguru South, 58.4km to south west of Morogoro town. This is the place where the highest peak (Kimhandu 2638 m a.s.l.) of Uluguru Mountains is located. It is a dramatic area of montane grassland with many unique plant species
To go to Lukwangule one has to drive to Nyandira where a hike to the plateau starts. A hike of more than 4hrs to Kimhandu peak starts at the plateau. Camping at the peak/plateau is recommended. Another route to Lukwangule from Morogoro town takes you to the eastern part of the mountains through Kiroka, Mkuyuni, Matombo and Mvuha to Kasanga mission as the end of your drive. From there you start walking to Ukwama village where you can spend a night (Camping). A 3hrs walk to the peak can start the following morning. In both routes hikers are advised to engage local guides. Since the routes passes through forest reserve, hikers are requested to obtain permits from the Uluguru Nature Reserve office.
From the historical neighbourhood of Morogoro town known as Morningside (6.3 km from city centre), you can walk up through the nature reserve to Bondwa peak from where there is a spectacular view of Morogoro town an other areas
The falls are located 53.3km to the south-east of Morogoro town, at Vinile village in Bunduki ward. The tour starts from Morogoro by car to Vinile, then half an hour walk to the falls in Mgeta River. While in a place you can easily watch endemic reptiles in Uluguru such as lizard, Uluguru three-horned chamelion, other animals found in Uluguru includes male and female Uluguru one horned chameleon (Bradypodion oxyrhinum) also male and female Uluguru two horned chameleon (Bradypodion fischeri uluguruensis). Endemic plant species among others are, Allanblackia uluguruensis and saint-paulia goetzeana.
On the way to Hululu water falls you will find the Bunduki camp site and rest house. The rest house is full furnished with all rest house facilities. There is enough area for tenting. Cost for sleeping and tenting is reasonable.
A place is located 2km from Morogoro town were hiking, and camping can take place. You can easily found crossing of river Morogoro with nice view and bathing especially during wet season. Drinks and bites are found available at the restaurant in the garden.
Nugutu is 2.9 km and Madolla village is 3.9 km from Morogoro town. The route is 2.5 km car drive to Nugutu and the rest to Madolla one has to walk. In the village under pre-arrangement the people will show you how the women of the village make mats, and the processes of pottery. Further more you will see how traditional foods are prepared and end your tour there with traditional dance.
Kinole is well known being the headquarter of the Waluguru’s chief Kingalu the 14th. The place is located 17.8km from Morogoro town in the foots of eastern side of the Uluguru mountains. A route for the hikers from Morogoro to Kinole takes you through Nyayiko traditional site where chief Kingalu used to rest on his way to Nguru Mountain to worship during those good old days. On your return trip, you choose between the two routes, return in the same route (walking) or aboard the vehicle.
A drive by bus from Kinole to Morogoro takes 1.30 hrs. When going to Kinole on foot it is highly advised to engage a local guide who knows the path. Chilunga Cultural Tourism offices opposite Morogoro Regional Hospital can help you where to get a local guide. Generally the walk to Kinole takes 4-6hrs.
It’s a leasure walking tour. Meet black and white colubus monkey (with shy faces) as well as Valvet monkey. A cool bush walk and stones steps walk along the river. Swimming in the river (don’t urinate inside the river). A nice view from the top. Picnic site available.
This will take you all the way passing Kinole the area near chief Kingalu’s village. In Tegetero you will find the Uluguru Bushshrike, Allanblackia ulugurensis, Saintpaulia species (all endemics in Uluguru). The road from Tegetero to Kinole is only for experienced off-road drivers and 4WD vehicles
This is a trail towards TAFORI trial plots of various tree species. On the way to these trial plots you will be passing through the natural forest having various indigenous trees and enjoying cool weather inside the forest.