Locals refer to the Kitulo Plateau as Bustani ya Mungu - The Garden of God – while botanists have dubbed it the Serengeti of Flowers, host to ‘one of the great floral spectacles of the world’. Kitulo is indeed a rare botanical marvel, home to a full 350 species of vascular plants, including 45 varieties of terrestrial orchid.
442 sq km (172 sq miles)
Southern Tanzania. The temporary park headquarters at Matamba are situated approximately 100km (60 miles) from Mbeya town.
4x4 only. From Chimala, 78km east of Mbeya along the surfaced main road to Dar es Salaam, head south along the rough but spectacular dirt road – called Hamsini na Saba (57) after the number of hairpin bends along its length - to the temporary park headquarters at Matamba, from where it’s another hour’s drive to the plateau. Basic and erratic public transport is available.
What to do at Kitulo Plateau
Good hiking trails exist and will soon be developed into a formal trail system. Open walking across the grasslands to watch birds and wildfl owers. Hill climbing on the neighbouring ranges. A half-day hike from the park across the Livingstone Mountains leads to the sumptuous Matema Beach on Lake Nyasa.
Best time to visit Kitulo Plateau
- Wildflower displays peak between December and April.
- The sunnier months of September to November are more comfortable for hiking but less rewarding to botanists.
- Conditions are cold and foggy from June to August.
Accommodation at Kitulo Plateau
Mbeya is serviced by everything from luxury hotels to simple guesthouses, while two simple guesthouses also exist in Matamba. There is no accommodation in the park as yet, but very basic accommodation and meals are available at the adjacent Kitulo Farm. Three special campsites are planned within the park, catering to fully equipped campers. Two moderately priced church-run hostels are situated on Matema Beach