Mountain Usambara Trekking
The Usambara mountains are located between Kilimanjaro and the Indian Ocean. Some of the tops rise to well over 2000m. Between steep cliffs and rocky hilltops are set small communities of the pastoral Usambani tribe. The high altitude and fertile soils attracted German, British and other European settlers. This is an excellent place to visit for a few relaxing days if you are travelling overland between the coast and Kilimanjaro and the northern gameparks. Lushoto, at the heart of the Usambara, can be reached in a 5 hour drive from Moshi. It is a further 4 hours drive to Tanga from where there are daily flights to Zanzibar, or 5-6 hours drive to Pangani or Saadani. Although a variety of accommodation is available in the area we recommend:
Muller's Lodge a beautifully built old farm house with a very relaxed, comfortable atmosphere taking you back 50 years in time. Amongst the early settlers in the Usambara was Grant, a retired forestry officer and provincial commissioner one of whose hobby was carpentry. In 1935 he built his home, later called 'Grant's Lodge', located at 1700m amongst the rolling, forested hills above Lushoto - the main town of the region. The lodge is solidly built of brick and is renowned for its splendid and well-cared for woodwork and furniture.
In the 1970's Grant left Tanzania and eventually the lodge was taken over by the Muller family who gave it its present name. Around the lodge are pleasant gardens and lawns amongst shady trees. Numerous walks are available in the area (guided or unguided) offering excellent bird watching opportunities and of considerable botanical interest. The walks are well-documented and guide sheets are available at the lodge. Additionally, Amazing Usambara Trekking and Safaris can guide you on walking and driving tours of the area.
The cuisine is excellent and the atmosphere tranquil and very relaxing . Evenings can be spent in the comfortable sitting room by a log fire. There is a small library and a collection of games.
What To Do?
The following day tours we do not organize ourselves, but encourage you to join a local tour operator, which supports a community project.
Walking tours from Lushoto (day tours)
Irente Viewpoint tour (4 to 6 hours)
This most famous viewpoint in the Usambara mountains is just an hour's walk from Lushoto. From the viewpoint you see the village of Mazinde almost 1,000 meters below you. On the way back you pass the village of Irente juu, where you will visit the crossbreeding and soil conservation projects at Mr. Mwindadi's hamlet. The trip can be extended with visits to a nearby waterfall and the viewpoints of Kambe and Kwa Mkeke.
Usambara farm and flora tour (4 to 5 hours)
Starting from Lushoto you walk through one of the most fertile parts of the Usambara mountains to the village of Vuli . On your way you will visit a cheese factory and learn about the different trees and plants in the area. In Vuli you visit some farms where people are just starting soil conservation and irrigation projects. After an extensive explanation about farming in the Usambara Mountains , you return via another route to Lushoto.
Day tours from other places in the Usambara Mountains
Growing rock tour (4 to 5 hours)
Starting from Soni you walk through the villages of Shashui and Kwemula to the foot of Kwa Mongo. In half an hour you can climb this mountain which has a colorful variety of butterflies on top, and oversee the Southern Usambara Mountains, including Soni and Lushoto, and the Handeni plains. From here you descend to Magila, situated on the foot of the growing rock, where you visit two irrigation projects and the tree nursery of the primary school. The farmers and school teachers will tell you all the ins and outs of their development projects and explain, before your return to Soni, why the rock is growing.
Bangala river tour (5 to 7 hours)
Walking along river valleys, sometimes wading through the water, you descend to the village of Bangala . On your way you have a beautiful view over the Maasai plains, you will see a traditional irrigation system and can visit a Wasambaa farm. In Bangala you can visit the tree nursery at the primary school and afterwards take a bus back to Soni or walk back via Vuga hill.
Western Usambara mountains tour (3 to 5 days)
Via the villages of Lukozi, Manolo and Sunga you reach the former German settlement of Mtae. On the way you pass through tropical forests, trek over mountains, go to several superb viewpoints and visit various development projects. If time permits you can also trek past Mlalo
Mazumbae forest reserve tour (4 to 5 days)
Via Kwa Mongo and Magila (irrigation and soil conservation projects) you go to Bumbuli mission (historic German settlement). From there you make a tour through the Masumbae forest reserve, famous for its many birds, and return to Soni.
Potter Traditional Adventure tour
Via Magamba tropical rain forests, trek towards Klaizi village. Located near Mloala village lies the village of Kilieti , where you can find Namisfueli Nyeki developing pottery workshops. Visitors can observe and participate in the age-old tradition of pottery making.
They are all former students of the Shambalai secondary school in Lushoto. Some of them have to wait one year for further education, others won't continue studying and try to find suitable work. All speak reasonable to good English, are familiar with the area and can tell you many interesting stories about history and daily life in the Usambara Mountains . They hope to earn some income through their work as guides and at the same promote village development to improve the living conditions of the Shambaa people.
All offer guiding services for walkers. Available walks include:
A bird walk
Wildlife to be seen includes the elegant Colobus monkey, blue monkeys and a wide variety of birds. In the rain forest euphorbias, acacias, giant ferns, palms, lobelias, camphors (Japanese and Usambara) eucalyptus and fig trees are all to be found.
Lengths of walks can be varied from just an hour or so to all day long taking a packed lunch with you. To be able to see something of the region it is best to spend at least two nights in the area.
Day 1 (6-7 hours)
From Lushoto town you walk up to the royal village of Kwembago then you enter the rain forest on Magamba home to black and white Colobus Monkey and vervet Monkeys.After the forest you walkthrough the villages of Magamba to the village of Lukozi where by you spend the night in the local guest house.
Day 2 (5-6 hours)
From Lukozi you walk through the traditional villages of Malindi and Longoi to the village of Rangwi and spend a night there. On the way you see the local people live and you see how they apply the local farming.You also visit the projects supported by the Cultural Tourism.
Day 3 (5-6 hours)
On this day you walk through the villages of Mamboleo and Sunga to the village of Mtae where you spend a night there.On the way you visit stone terrases (one of the supported projects), pottery women and the traditional healer with the nice view points.The villge of Mtae is also known as the world view point.
Day 4 (4-5 hours)
On this relaxing day you have the option towalk arround Mtae and visit the small village of Mtii where was a sub-chief during the Kingship of Usambara Kingdom.And on this day also the tradition dance can be arrenged from the Traditional healer.
Day 5 (6-7 hours)
On this last day you walk from Mtae through the villages local villages of Goka and Moa to the historical village of Mlalo . From Mlalo you see the historical Mission and you get the history about chief Kighobo who foretold the coming of the white people to Usambara.
Your arrival in the Usambara Mountains can be made by public bus or by private car. The price of the tour, if begun by bus, is $120 per day. If begun by private car, the price is $170 per day for a group of 2-4 including tour, meals and accommodation (B&B).
This tour can be done either by camping or lodging.