Kitulo National Park is a protected area of montane grassland on the Kitulo Plateau in the southern highlands of Tanzania. The park is at an elevation of 2,600 metres (8,500 ft) between the peaks of the Kipengere and Poroto mountains and covers an area of 412.9 square kilometres (159.4 sq mi) lying in Mbeya Region and Njombe Region. The park is administered by Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA) and is the first national park in tropical Africa to be established primarily to protect its flora.
Locals refer to the Kitulo Plateau as “Bustani ya Mungu” (“The Garden of God”), while botanists have referred to it as the “Serengeti of Flowers”.
Protection of the Kitulo Plateau’s unique flora was first proposed by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), in response to the growing international trade in orchid tubers and increased hunting and logging activities in the surrounding forests. In 2002, President Benjamin Mkapa announced the establishment of the park. The park was formally gazetted in 2005, becoming Tanzania’s fourteenth national park. TANAPA has stated that the park could be expanded in the future to include the neighbouring Mount Rungwe forest.
In 2005, field scientists from the WCS discovered a new species of primate on and around Mount Rungwe and in the Livingstone Forest area of the park. Initially known as the Highland Mangabey, later changed to its Tanzanian name of Kipunji, it is one of the 25 most endangered primates in the world.
Paying a day visit inside Nyumba Nitu natural forest in Njombe would be an exciting and memorable adventure worth reckoning.
The Nyumba Nitu natural forest is located in Mlevela village, some 15 kilometres from Njombe Township just after wattle estates which border the Nyumba Nitu village.
The forest has its root from Nyumba Nitu caves and had derived its name from the dark caves which have been associated with a myth of black cows which dwelt inside the caves.
Inside the caves, local Wabena people hid or took refugee during tribal wars between rival Wahehe fighters during Chief Mkwawa conquests in Iringa region, way back in last quarter of 19th century. The caves also provided safe hideout from German forces during the Maji Maji uprising.
Several tales and myths surround Nyumba Nitu forest, where wild hens are found living since time immemorial. The Wabena communities are the owners of the forest where they pay homage calls to conduct rituals and sacrifices to their unseen ancestors.
The natural caves could accommodate up to 100 people at a go, and have been a home of early people before houses or settlements were discovered.
You can visit Nyumba Nitu to enjoy its thrilling atmosphere and share experience with local communities neighboring the forest.
Mdandu historical site is part of Nyumba Nitu forest. It is an interesting area with a historical touch. Mdandu is the origin of the name Njombe which the region has been named, deriving its name from Mdzombe tree, only available in this area.
There is an old German court where locals were prosecuted and hanged at a nearby tree. Mdandu was also a stopping centre for slaves from Makete to Bagamoyo and is located along the old slave trade route.
Mbozi Meteorite: World’s eighth largest, located about 65km southwest of Mbeya is the Mbozi meteorite, weighing an estimated 25 metric tonnes, it’s around 3m long and 1m tall.
Mbeya region is endowed with lots of tourist attractions although most of them have not been fully exploited. Some classic examples include those within the vicinity of the city such as Mbeya and Loleza Peaks and the Utengule and Mbozi meteorite
Weighing in at a cool 12 tons, the irregularly shaped Mbozi Meteorite – which lies on the southwestern slope of Marengi Hill, 70 kilometers west of Mbeya, off the road to Tunduma – is the world’s eighth largest known.
The meteorite is a fragment of interplanetary matter that was large enough to avoid being completely burned up when entering earth’s atmosphere.
But the fragment is small enough to avoid exploding; of the estimated five hundred meteorites that fall to earth each year, only thirty percent strike land, and less than ten are reported and recorded.
The Mbozi Meteorite has been known for centuries by locals, who call it Kimwondo, but the absence of legends recounting its sudden and undoubtedly fiery arrival indicate that it fell to earth long before the present inhabitants arrived, a thousand years ago. The meteorite was officially discovered in 1930 at the time when only the top was visible.
To reveal the whole meteorite, the hillside around it was dug away, leaving a pillar of soil under the meteorite, which was then reinforced with concrete to serve as a plinth. The irregular notches on the pointed end were caused by souvenir hunters hacking out chunks – no easy task given the strength of the nickel-iron of which it’s made.
Most meteorites consist of silicates or stony-irons, so Mbozi meteorite is uncommon in that it’s composed mainly of iron (90.45 percent) and nickel (8.69 percent), with negligible amounts of copper, sulphur and phosphorus.
A visit to the Meteorite Site is always fascinating especially if you are in a group and you travel using public transport as a means of getting a better taste of the countryside and face some adventures. This enables the group to also interact with the locals who are ever ready to share views with visitors.