Kitulo National Park

In 1870, explorer Frederick Elton first visited the area that would later become the park. In the 1960s, a significant portion of the land was assigned to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization for wheat and sheep projects. However, these ventures did not succeed in the area. Consequently, the land was transformed into a dairy farm in 1972, a role it continues to serve today.

In response to concerns raised by conservation organizations and various stakeholders, a section of the farm, including Livingstone and Nhumbe Forest Reserves, was officially designated as Kitulo National Park on September 16, 2005.


The climate in the area is predominantly temperate and is influenced by factors such as altitude and Lake Nyasa. The maximum daily temperature ranges anywhere from 58°F to 65°F typically, while the minimum temperature ranges is pretty steady at 45°F between December and April. During the months of June to August, the temperatures can drop as low as 33°F, and frost may occur during this period. The average annual rainfall is 63 inches, ranging anywhere from 55 to 70 inches. The rainy season typically lasts from October to May.

Getting There:

Arusha National Park can be accessed from Mbeya town, which is approximately 68 miles away via the Chimala road and 43 miles away via the Isyonje road. It is about 56 miles from Songwe Airport. The park can only be reached by road.

By Air:

The nearest airport is Songwe Airport, which is located approximately 56 miles from the park via the Isyonje road and 78 miles via the Chimala small town route.

By Road:

From Mbeya city, you can reach Kitulo via the Isyonje route, which is about 43 miles, or via the Chimala route, which is approximately 64 miles. Another option is from Njombe town, taking the Ikonda-Makete-Kitulo road, which is about 103 miles.

By Railway:

The TAZARA (Tanzania-Zambia) railway provides transportation options through the Iyunga and Makambako stations.

Songwe Airport is an airport located in the southern highlands region of Tanzania, serving the city of Mbeya and surrounding areas. It has the capacity to accommodate commercial jet traffic and is served by domestic airlines such as Air Tanzania, Precision Air, Fastjet, and Tropical Air.


Inside the park, there are several notable attractions that tourists can visit, each offering its own unique natural or cultural value, historical significance, and aesthetic beauty. These sites are ripe with opportunities for leisure, adventure, and amusement.

The park encompasses vast expanses of rolling upland grassland, offering picturesque views of rounded hills that seem to stretch endlessly to the horizon. Visitors can also explore captivating waterfalls, meandering rivers, and even a magnificent crater lake within the park’s boundaries.

Kitulo Plateau

The plateau in the park can be identified by three distinct vegetation types:

  1. Well-drained grassland: This type of vegetation grows on volcanic soils and includes species such as Aster transaniesis, Kniphofia Grantii, and others.

  2. Seasonally or permanently flooded bogs: These areas contain species like Lobelia and Gladiolus and are characterized by the presence of water.

  3. Rocky ridges and talus slopes: This vegetation type is found on soil derived from metamorphic rocks and features species such as Moraea callista and Romulea companuloides. These areas are characterized by rocky terrain and associated slopes.


The park is one of the great flowers gardens of the world with over 40 species of ground orchids alone. Flowers come out in their thousands making unparalleled carpet of color especially from late November to April.

Physical Features and Vegetation

Kitulo National Park is floristically reached with at least 350 species of vascular plants documented so far from the plateau. Kitulo highlands appear to be a major geographical ground for species typical of Eastern and Southern Africa region and so extremely rich in endemic and rare species not protected elsewhere in Tanzania.

Mount Livingstone Forest

Some of the tree species in the forest are Hagenia abyssinica, Ocotea usambarensis, Juniperus procera, and Khaya anthoceca. The forest is also characterised by mountain Bamboo, (Sinarundinaria alpina). Kitulo is rich in flora species with 350 species of high plants recorded, including 45 species terrestrial Orchids, of which 31 species are endemic to Tanzania, 16 are endemic to Kitulo and Poroto Mountain sand at least 3 species are endemic to Kitulo national park. Two species are only known to be in Kitulo and adjoining forest. The abundance of plants in the wet season has been described as the greatest flora marvel of the World.

Nhumbe Waterfall:

The height of Nhumbe Waterfall is approximately 328 feet. It is located 12.4 miles from the Mwakipembo main gate, and it takes about one hour to hike down to the waterfall and return to the picnic site. Visitors have the opportunity to cool off in the waterfall and capture stunning photos.

Mwakipembo Waterfall:

Mwakipembo Waterfall is situated along the road to Nhumbe Valley, 2.5 miles from the Mwakipembo main gate. It has a height of 26.2 feet. The surrounding area is characterized by beautiful orchid flowers, everlasting flowers, Erica plants, and Clematopsis uhehensis.

Cultural Attractions

Mlivili Cave is situated along Matamba Ridge, following Mwakipembo Waterfall. Usalama Cave is located approximately 5 miles away from Common Works Junction, along the road to Mbeya via Isyonje.

During the times of intertribal warfare, these caves served as hiding places for indigenous people from the Wawanji, Wakinga, and Nyakyusa tribes, seeking refuge from the Mwakaleli tribe. Unfortunately, in modern times, these areas have been utilized as hideouts by poachers.


Kitulo National Park is an important area for bird conservation and serves as a wintering site for various bird species from South Africa and Europe. Some species, like the Abdim’s stock, also use Kitulo as a wintering area from North Africa. The plateau is home to breeding colonies of Blue Swallow and Denham’s Bustard. Additionally, there are several endemic bird species in the area, including the Lesser Kestrel, Pallid Harrier, Cisticola Njombe, Kipengere Seedeater, and Uhehe Fiscal.

Dhambwe Crater Lake within the park is a habitat for numerous waterbirds, such as the Yellow-billed Duck, White-faced Whistling Duck, Common Teal, Open-billed Storks, and Red-knobbed Coot. These bird species contribute to the diverse avian population found within Kitulo National Park.



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