The Uluguru Mountains, are a range of mountains that form the eartern arc in Tanzania’s Eastern side. The Eastern Arc is a chain of mountains that rolls from Kenya to Tanzania, running from the northeast to the southwest. These mountains got their name from the surrounding, Bantu-speaking people that inhabit the area surrounding these mountains and hills, the Luguru tribe. The main ridge of the Uluguru mountains runs roughly north-south and reaches an elevation of about of 2,630 meters (8,600 feet) at its highest point.  On the main Uluguru range, 50 communities contact the forest boundary, and approximately 151,000 people live within the mountain area, typically in increasing numbers as they approach the forest boundary at higher altitudes.

The Ulugurus mountains are situated approximately 200 kilometers inland from the Indian Ocean. The Taita Hills, Pare Mountains, Usambara Mountains, Nguru Mountains, Rubeho, Ukaguru, Udzungwa Mountains, and Mahenge Mountains are all part of the Eastern Arc Mountains, a chain of mountains in eastern Africa.

The Uluguru Mountains in eastern Tanzania are one of the most important mountains in Africa for the conservation of biological diversity. They are also the source of the water supply for the largest city in Tanzania, Dar es Salaam, which has between 3 and 4 million people. In addition to these global and national values they are also home to over 100,000 people in the Luguru tribe who prefer to live on the mountains because of the favourable climate which allows them to grow crops through much of the year, including fruits and temperate vegetables which they can export to the townspeople of the lowlands.

Conservation of the Uluguru Mountains

Conservation of the Uluguru Mountains first started during the German colonial period, when several forest reserves were established for the protection of the water supply and to slow erosion from the steep mountain slopes. These efforts complemented those of the chiefs of the Luguru people, who protected forest areas for their ancestors to live in.

In the early 1950s the British colonial government tried to force ‘improved’ agriculture onto the Luguru people through a large authoritarian project. The Luguru people rejected the project and set fire to the mountains in protest. These actions sparked some of the first elements of revolt which culminated in the Independence of Tanzania from Britain in 1964.

Between the 1960s and until the early 1990s the Ulugurus was a sensitive area, with military importance and used for locating training bases as a part of Tanzanian support to the African National Congress of South Africa. At the end of the Apartheid regime in South Africa the South African ANC members returned home and the bases were closed.

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Location of Uluguru Mountains

These mountain ranges of the Uluguru are situated approximately 190 kilometers west of Dar es Salaam City. You may get there by car, rail, or plane. The peak overlooks the agricultural region surrounding Morogoro, and in some ways, Morogoro town is located at the base of Uluguru Mountain.

The Uluguru Mountain is located between the rural and Mvomero districts of Morogoro. Waluguru is the name of the native tribe that lives in the area. It’s a component of the Arc of the Eastern Mountains. The streams from this mountain enter the Ruvu River, which supplies Dar es Salaam with water. The highest point is 2,630 feet above sea level. Uluguru Mountain is encircled by 51 communities, with a total population of almost 151, 000 people. Uluguru South, Kasanga Mkangala, Mlaliwala, Ngababaula, Tongeni River, and others are among the reserves.

These reserves encompass a total of 37,700 hectares.


The Uluguru main ridge and surrounding sections have a wide range of plants. It includes drier lowland coastal forest habitats, transitional rainforests, sub-montane, montane, and higher montane forest types, as well as sub-montane, montane, and upper montane forest types.


The Uluguru mountains collect moisture that comes inland from the Indian Ocean, making the east-facing slopes very wet, with annual rainfall estimated to be above 3,000 millimeters (120 in) with rain falling every month.

The Uluguru Mountains may be seen in the background of Morogoro.

The Luguru Tribe

The Waluguru tribe is the native population of the Ulugurus. They have lived in the mountains for hundreds of years, having migrated from other parts of Tanzania.

In contrast to other tribes in Tanzania, where males control the land and make the majority of decisions concerning its use and administration, their land is passed down via the female line, and women are powerful in village life.
“Luguru” is a local term that means “people of the highlands.” Waluguru are mountain people who, according to legend, once fought the zigua. Luguru shifted from lower ground to mountains when Zigua vanquished him. Cultivation is their primary activity. Bananas, yams, cassava, and millet are among the crops they cultivate. Although, in recent years, people have begun to own animals.

The Uluguru Forests, a water catchment area

The mountains’ forests serve as water catchment regions for streams and rivers.

This water mostly comes from the Ulugurus’ forest-covered summits into tributaries that converge to form the Ruvu River, which supplies water to Dar es Salaam. The majority of the surrounding population, around 3 million people, as well as Tanzania’s key businesses, rely on this water supply to survive. [4] The loss of the Uluguru forests, as well as any diminution in the mountains’ water supply potential, might have a significant impact on Tanzania’s human well-being and industrial capabilities.

The area of forest on the Ulugurus has been quantified over time. In 1955 there was over 300 sq. km of forest remaining. By 1977 this had been reduced to 260 sq. km, and currently the forest area is around 200 sq. km. The majority of the loss of forest has been at lower altitudes and outside of the Forest Reserves which are providing a valuable refuge for forests on the mountain.

Birds and Wildlife

Over 100 plants, birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians are only found in the Ulugurus.

A huge number of other species are only found in one or two other Eastern Arc mountains, making them globally uncommon. African violets, Impatiens, and Begonias are endemic species that are popular pot plants in other parts of the world.

Some of the species of the Ulugurus are known to favour the lower altitude forest (700-1500 m) which has been most heavily lost during the past 45 years. This includes the endemic Uluguru Bush Shrike. Its population must have declined over the past decades.

The Ulugurus contain a wide altitudinal range of forest, with exceptional biological importance throughout this range. Above 700 m there are areas of sub-montane and higher montane and upper montane forests. On the eastern lowland (200-300m) margins of the Ulugurus are also found lowland forest blocks, which are more closely related to a chain of small forest patches found along the coast of eastern Africa. Hence the Ulugurus contain examples of two of the main forest types in Eastern Africa (montane and lowland coastal).

The montane forests of the Uluguru Mountains are a part of the Tanzania-Malawi Mountains Endemic Bird Area defined by BirdLife International . This chain of mountains is of great conservation importance. The forests of the Uluguru Mountains portion of this Endemic Bird Area are one of the most important parts of this larger area. The Uluguru mountains forests support three endemic bird species (Uluguru Bush Shrike Malaconotus alius, Loveridge’s Sunbird Nectarinia loveridgei and further taxonomic work will probably recognise a new species in the Mountain Greenbul complex – Andropadus neumanii). They also hold important populations of a number of other bird species that are only found in the Eastern Arc Mountains.

In addition to the birds the Ulugurus support many other plants and animals which are either wholly endemic to the mountain, or are shared with other Eastern Arc mountain forests. In summary there are believed to be 15 species of vertebrate animal and more than 150 species of invertebrate animal only found on the Ulugurus, together with perhaps 100 endemic plant species (see attached downloadable file). The plants include endemic or near-endemic examples of several well-known house plants in temperate countries: Saintpaulia (African Violet), Impatiens (Busy Lizzie), Begonia and Streptocarpus. Many of these are only found in the Ulugurus, particularly in the montane forests.

The lowland forests on the eastern margins of the Ulugurus are an outlier of the Tanzania-Kenya coastal lowland forests EBA. They support some of the characteristic species of plants and amphibians of the coastal forests (in particular 13 endemic plant species in Kimboza forest), but they do not contain the coastal forest endemic birds.

Species of birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians endemic to the Uluguru Mountains and notes on their altitudinal distribution and most recent records

Species Described Alt Distribution Most recent records, plus notes on abundance
Malaconotus alius Friedmann, 1927 1320-1710 m 2000, pop c.1,150 pairs
Nectarinia loveridgei Hartert, 1922 1200-2580 m 2000, pop 10,000 plus pairs
Crocidura telfordi Hutterer, 1986 1990s collected by W. Stanley
Myosorex geata Allen & Loveridge, 1927 1990s collected by W. Stanley
Prosymna ornatissima Barbour & Loveridge, 1928 700-1000 m Last collected 1926, Mt. Tongoni (Uluguru North)
Rhampholeon uluguruensis Tilbury & Emmrich, 1996 Collected 2000
Typhlops uluguruensis Barbour & Loveridge, 1928 750m Last collected 1926, Bagilo
Nectophrynoides cryptus Perret, 1971 1500 m plus? Collected 2000, U. South.
Nectophrynoides minutus Perret, 1972 1500 m plus? Collected 2000, U. South
Probreviceps uluguruensis Loveridge, 1925 1500 m plus Collected 2000, U. South
Scolecomorphus uluguruensis Barbour & Loveridge, 1928 1500 m plus Collected 2000, U. North
Hyperolius tornieri Ahl, 1931 1500 m plus Taxonomically problematic

Hiking the Uluguru Mountains

The mountains draw a large number of tourists to the area, owing to its closeness to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania’s former capital and economic center.
From Morogoro town, Uluguru Mountain trekking takes only one day (up and down).

What to wear for an Uluguru Mountain Hike

Waterproof footwear is essential for the trip because the path is usually flooded or muddy for the majority of the time.

The weather is pleasant, therefore there is no need for chilly cloth….a single coat would be enough.

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