The first park in Tanzania established to protect its diverse flora, Kitulo Plateau is also known as Bustani ya Mungu, which in Swahili means ‘The Garden of God’. It may be interesting to know that until these forests came under protection of Wildlife Conservation Society, various types of orchids in the park were used by local people as food. In fact, Kitulo orchids were even exported to the neighboring Zambia as a great delicacy! Now that you might want to try an exquisite orchid salad, you must know that all 45 varieties of orchids in Kitulo National Park are under strict protection and anyone who tries to destroy them is subject to a big fine.
Best time to visit the ‘Serengeti of Flowers’, as the botanists call it, is late November to April, during the rainy season, when the plains and hills are filled with flowers. Kitulo is located at 2,600 metres between the peaks of Poroto, Kipengere and Livingstone Mountains, and the waters of Great Ruaha River nurture the lush grasslands, turning them into the most fascinating wild botanical garden of the country. Irises, aloes, proteas, geraniums, giant lobelias, aster daisies and lilies, along with abovementioned orchids, of which around 30 are endemic to this area, fill Kitulo with a broad palette of colors all throughout the year. Add to this a great variety of colorful butterflies, elusive chameleons and loud frogs!
Every now and then, you can meet mountan reedbucks in the grasslands. What Kitulo is really famous for, is the unique Kipunji monkey, one of the most endangered primates on the planet. You may not see it but will definitely hear their chatter that some people describe as ‘whooping’, some call it ‘barking’ or ‘honking’.
Finally, if barking monkeys and edible orchids are not enough for you, Kitulo is a brilliant birdwatcher’s gem, hosting such rare birds as Njombe cisticola, Denham’s bustard, blue swallow, mountain marsh widow, and Kipengere seedeater.