The Sanje Falls are located in the Udzungwa Mountains National Park, and wow is it an amazing area! We are by no means explorers, but we definitely felt like we were during this four hour hike to the top!
At Number 4 of the Top 10 Waterfalls of Tanzania, Sanje Falls has defiantly earned its place! When you find yourself at the bottom of the Udzungwa Mountains, you can’t begin to image the sights you will witness as you climb. In fact, there are a few points along the trail that take your breath away – looking through the dense forest at the height you have climbed, and the distant noise of falling water, calling you to proceed.
After about 20 minutes, we reached the Udzungwa Mountains National Park boundary, where we had a brief break. We weren’t that tired yet, however we were getting used to constantly walking up a steep gradient; that was what was difficult. Well, and the humidity! As we were in a forest, in 30 degree heat, you can image how humid it was under the canopies! It was on this break, that our guide explained to us that we would be making brief stops along the trail, to show and explain to us about the variety of plants and trees in the forest.
This photo was taken as we reached the park boundary, and as you can see, we were already quite hot! It was here that we took our first break, and our last proper break before the first of the pools – the breaks in between were brief and where the chance to explain about the trees and plants to us.
The sticks that you can see in the photo, were very useful! Some areas were quite difficult to navigate, with the sharp rocks causing an uneven footing, so having something to help, was a must! Near the falls and the pools, it can also get quite slippery, so having something to hold onto is helpful! If you ever do this most common walk in the Udzungwa Park, we definitely recommend getting a hiking stick!
During the hike, we came across many different types plants and trees. The Udzungwa Mountains National Park, has around 2,500 species. Many of these are endemic species to the Park, both vegetal and animal species. A lot of these can be seen on the slopes of the mountains. There are varied species; 60m high, ‘real giants’ dominate the skyline, contrasting from the small ‘African violet’. Ferns and orchids line the trees, filling in the small gaps between the leaves.
Along the 8km hike, there are a few points where there is a break in the forest, allowing you to see out across the landscape. It is in these places that you realise quite how far you have climbed, and where you are in regards to the highest part of the falls. The falls are split into three parts – 30m, 70m and the highest of 170m.
Upon reaching the first fall, 30m, there was a welcomed break. It was here, that we saw a smaller section of the falls, and cooled down on the breeze of the falling water. Watching the water fall down the rocks, was almost therapeutic. The glimpse of the falls, encouraged us to continue our hike.
After setting off again, we reached another look out point, closer to the pool at the 70m mark. This is where we got a small glimpse of the view, and saw where a section of the water broke through the forest.
It almost looked like we were in a fairytale, with the glistening water, vines hanging off the trees that perfectly framed the water, and the small glimpse of the Kilombero Valley below. As you can see from the photo above, it was really quite beautiful!
The rock pool at the 70m mark, was accompanied by a larger section of the waterfall than the 30m mark. The pool here is a great for swimming, and is a great way to cool off; a refreshing way to escape from the heat.
The water was falling so quickly, that it looked like a blur. The mist that was created as a result, sprayed on us as we approached the pool, hinting at the refreshing water that was inviting us in.
It was so beautiful, that we had to take some photos! When we reached this point, it was time to relax! After collapsing in a heap, we went and cooled off in the waters of the rock pool, getting sprayed by the gushing water.
After about an hour, it was time to head back down the mountain, back to the park boundary, and into Kilombero Valley. On the way down, we stopped off at another viewing point; a break in the forest, gifting views far into the Tanzanian distance.
After the initial shock of just how high we were, we began to take in the view. It didn’t feel like we had climbed that high! Yes it had taken hours and it was steep, but we were VERY high! But wow, the view was stunning!
After another small break, we continued back down the mountain, and once another four hours had passed, we reached the bottom.
It was an amazing experience that we recommend you do, if you ever visit Tanzania.
If you look carefully, there’s something special about the side of the mountain! Can you see it?Due to where the trees have grown and where they haven’t, the exposed rock is in the shape of Africa! How amazing!