Dubbed by botanists as the “Serengeti of Flowers”, the Kitulo Plateau National Park in Tanzania is one of the world’s prettiest national parks. Known for its diverse floral kingdom, this unusual national park is where wildflowers, general game, and birds live in harmony.
Because of its floral diversity boasting 350 species of flowers and 45 wild orchids needing protection, the Kitulo Plateau was declared a national park. The 412-square-kilometre National Park sprawls across a plateau sandwiched between the looming mountain peaks of Kipenger and Poroto mountains.
The volcanic soils of the area produce an environment for montane grassland and forests to flourish, in turn providing the ideal habitat for reedbuck and eland. Of particular importance is the Livingstone forest, the hub of the floral kingdom. Carpets of purple flowers, blankets of daisies, wild orchids and other wildflowers smother the landscape from November to April.
Visitors will need to fly into the international airport in Dar es Salaam airport and catch a connecting flight onwards to Mbeya.
Kitulo Plateau National Park sits at an elevation of 2600 metres above sea level and has most certainly earned its status from locals as the “Garden of God”. There are 350 species of plants, and 45 orchid species endemic to the area. Aloes, proteas, lilies and red-hot pokers are just a few of the other species of flora in the area.
Kitulo is known mainly for its exquisite floral kingdom. However, there is wildlife to spot in the park. Grazers, browers, reptiles, amphibians, primates and birds can all be spotted in the park. Smaller creatures include lizards, chameleons, and butterflies.
Antelope such as eland, zebra and reedbuck inhabit the national park and are regularly spotted while exploring on foot. Kipunji monkeys dart from tree to tree in the forest canopies and are just one of the 25 endangered primate species to spot in the area.
One of the rarest bird species to spot during birdwatching trips is the Denham’s bustard—a bird that’s only found in Kitulo. Other birds to spot include mountain marsh widows, migrating storks, cisticola and the Kipengere seedeaters.
Kitulo is a year-round destination, but the best time to visit is when the floral kingdom erupts with colour. The flowers are best viewed during the rainy season which is from November to April. This is when the landscape shifts into different colours, a remarkable phenomenon to witness. The dry season is from May to October, which is perfect hiking weather and is a fantastic time to visit the park.
The biological wealth of Kitulo Plateau is best explored on foot. The park is a well-known hiking destination with an exceptional mosaic of hiking trails up the hills and across the adjacent mountain ranges.
One of the most popular hikes is the half-day hike that bends its way from the Livingstone range to the freshwater beach on Lake Nyasa, offering the perfect beach and bush combination.
The more relaxed walking trails meander their way across grasslands and open savannah, bypassing pockets of exceptional landscapes. Walks are the perfect way to discover the birdlife of the area and observe plains game in their natural surroundings.
The National Park is located on a mountainous plateau region, which makes it tricky for accommodation options. As a result, there is no accommodation in the park. There are plenty of hotels and lodges in Mbeya, which is the airport town.
Other lodges rest on the outskirts of the park and are conveniently situated along main highways and connecting roads. There are also very basic and rustic accommodation options in Matamba village.
A campsite with ablution facilities is located within the park.