Tanzania’s Kitulo Plateau is an area of outstanding botanical importance. Known as the “Serengeti of Flowers”, or locally as “Bustani ya mungu” (Swahili for God’s Garden), it is home to over 350 plant species.
It’s one of the parks Catherine was most excited to visit and was something a little different from animals or trekking being the focus. Unlike our previous trip to Tanzania, it was also now the best time of year to see the park’s orchids (40 species of ground orchids are found here, many of which are endemic).
The three days of long buses to get here from Arusha was tougher than our hike up Kilimanjaro! We arrived in the tiny village of Matamba a lot later than planned after having to push the last bus out of the mud and up the hill in the dark.
We hired a 4×4 and a driver for the day and explored the park both in the car and on foot. It’s a very beautiful and peaceful setting of rolling grassland, hills that stretch to the horizon, waterfalls, caves and the Livingstone forest area, which is home to the very rare and shy Kapunji monkeys.
In the rainy seasons, it transforms into a carpet of multi-coloured wildflowers: red hot pokers, irises, everlasting, delphiniums, daisies, forget-me-nots, pretty speckled gladioli, touch-me-nots that spring in your hand and explode seeds everywhere, and of course so many beautiful orchids.
Having worked as a guide for many years, Japhary really knew his flowers and his passion and enthusiasm was wonderful. The area was only declared a national park in 2005 and Japhary explained that one of the reasons the park needed protecting was because of orchid poaching.
After a lovely morning walking through fields of flowers, we enjoyed our picnic lunch next to a pretty stream in glorious sunshine. After lunch, we walked to a waterfall and through the park a little more before jumping back in the car just as the heavens opened.
It was a lovely day out and Catherine’s love for flowers is definitely rubbing off and giving me a continued sense of appreciation for them.
The nearest village is Matamba and there are a couple of buses a day from Nane Nane bus station in Mbeya. It should take 4-5 hours along a pretty bad unpaved road that gets much worse in rainy season.
Accommodation – Super Eden Motel (10,000TSH)
Japhary’s Number (he’s on WhatsApp) – +255 757 741 195
Japhary organised the driver and 4×4.
- Park fees – 35
- Guide/Driver fees – 3.50 each
- Car fee – 9
- Guide – 50
- 4X4 – 90