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Tanzania Trekking - Usambara Mountains

Image - Usambara Mountains

Usambara Mountains

The Usambara Mountains are situated in the North Eastern part of Tanzania between Mount Kilimanjaro and the Indian Ocean. The mountains rise up steeply from the surrounding plains and can only be entered via a few roads. The only tarmac road in the area winds along a small river to Soni and Lushoto, the largest towns in the area. Because of its pleasant climate, the mountains were favoured by the Germans and English during colonial times. Historic buildings stand as reminders of this past. From a distance the mountains are a colourful mosaic. On the fertile slopes around Soni and Lushoto farmers cultivate small plots. Further away from the towns large areas are still covered by dense tropical forests.


The View Point
The viewpoints on the southern and western side of the Usambara are well known for the spectacular views of the plains of Mkomazi and Handeni. Kilimanjaro can be seen on the horizon and at the end of the day the sunset turns the area into a pallet of unforgettable colours.

With German (GTZ) and Dutch (SNV)
Assistance the farmers of the Usambara region have started several development projects over the past years. The projects focus on improving the farming and irrigation system which is seen as one of the major factors for improving the standard of living.

Attractions
There are several cultural tourism programmes run by the Usambara farmers including a Western Usambara mountains tour, Masumbae forest reserve tour, Bangala river tour and visits to Usambara farms.

Information Centers
More information on the cultural tourism programmes can be obtained from the information centre in Arusha or from the Green Valley Hotel in Lushoto.

Amani Nature Reserve

Located in the Usambara Mountains, the Amani Nature Reserve was established in 1997 to protect the biodiversity of the flora and fauna found in the sub-montane rain forests of the region. The environment at Amani contains some of the greatest numbers of animal and plant diversity in the world.

The Amani Botanical Gardens, which were established in 1902, are found in the reserve and there is an information centre. Several nature trails have been established and for those who don’t fancy walking there are also three drive routes.

The Rest House
There is a resthouse close to the Sigi entry gate and campsites at Sigi, Kwamkoro forest station, Monga and Ndola.

Getting There
Amani is about a six hour drive from Dar es Salaam and about five hours from Arusha. The road to Amani branches off at Muheza and the reserve is a further 35 km along quite a rough track so 4WD vehicles are advisable

Lushoto

The pretty village of Lushoto is located at 1,500 m up in the Usambara Mountains and is about one and a half hours off the main Korogwe to Moshi road up a spectacular windy road. Formerly the headquarters for the first Germans to arrive in East Africa, the region is now developing cultural tourism with a blend of historical features and architecture, traditional medicine, arts and crafts and fabulous scenery with granite mountains reaching over 6000 feet over the Maasai plains of Tanzania and Kenya.There are numerous walks in the area with the viewpoint at Irente offering fantastic views.

Other Attractions

There is also a waterfall nearby and other viewpoints such as the one at Kwa Mkeke. Other attractions in the area are the fertile village of Vuli, the cheese factory, walking in the southern Usambara Mountains and the traditional villages of Soni, Shashui and Kulemula.

Accommodation
There is a selection of accommodation in the village including the colonial Lawns Hotel which has lovely views. Outside Lushoto the homely Grants Lodge organises walking safaris in the region.

Last Updated on Thursday 26th November 2009

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