Mwanihana is a one or two night trek, taking you on a 38km round trip deep into the forest, and up to 2140m. The trail passes through a number of habitats, from miombo woodland, through grassy plateaux, sub montane forest, montane forest, bamboo, and finally heather at the top. Its quite common to see elephants on this trail.
The path begins at Sonjo village, and passes the two falls on the Sonjo trail. There are a few steepish sections interspersed between a steadily rising path from 300m to the campsite at 900m.
On the way, you will pass 2 other campsites, one of which you will stay at during the decent of you choose 2 nights. There are often researchers at the 2nd campsite.
Much of the trail is in open grassland flanked on either side by tall forest. The campsite, Njia Panda (branching path) is near a stream for washing and water.
The next morning you’ll start the hike early to ascend the 1250m to the peak. The path goes up and down for the first section along a grassy ridge, but once it reaches the forest (1500m), it ascends very steeply through giant trees. Half way, there is a cool and tasty trickling stream for filling water bottles.
At around 1900m you suddenly leave the forest, and enter an area of bamboo – this zone has seen extensive depletion in recent years due to climate change and less rainfall on the mountain tops. From here, you can clearly see the three humps that make up the top of Mwanihana. The path circles around the tallest one, and after a fine view point on some flat rocks, tunnels through the heather to the trig point and weather station on the top.
After descending to Njia Panda campsite, its popular to hike either to the 2nd or 1st campsite (or if you’re on a 1 night hike, to hike all the way out). For those who have bought 48 of park fees, the following morning is an early start to cover the remaining few km to leave the park, or if you’ve opted for 3 days park fees and stayed a 2nd night at Njia Panda, a more leisurely stroll can be undertaken taking in more of the wildlife and surroundings.