Usambara Mountains

Situated in the north-east of Tanzania. With their wide vistas, cool climate, winding paths and picturesque villages, the Usambaras are one of Tanzanian’s highlights.

The Usambaras are a part of the ancient Eastern Arc chain which mountains stretch in a broken crescent from the Taita hills in southern Kenya down to Morogoro and the southern highlands. They are estimated to be at least 100 million years old and the rocks forming them may be as much as 600 million years old. The mountains are home to an exceptional assortment of plants and animals and represent one of the highest degrees of biodiversity on the continent.

Nobody knows which people first settled in the Usambaras, only that the ancestors of the present Sambaa people came hundreds of years ago. In the mid 18th century a Sambaa kingdom existed which had about 60.000 people.

In the latter half of the 19th century it is reported that there was a lot of war and terror with neighboring tribes which ended with the German colonization. The Germans discovered the charm of the Usmabaras and they established Lushoto (during those days named Wilhelmsthal) and it was a favoured holiday spot for colonial administrators. Today you still find many traces of the German times. Tanganyika became a British mandate territory after World War I. The British administration continued to reserve and exploit forests. After independence in 1961 the Ujamaa politics or so called “African socialism” of Tanzania’s first president Nyerere brought one of the best organized village communities in Africa which still exists today in the Usmabaras.

Besides the historical sites the Usambaras have a lot of interesting places and activities. It is a exquisite place for hiking, bird watching, mountain biking or relaxing.

The following day tours we do not organise 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 schoolteachers 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.

The guides

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 Sambaa people


7 Days / 6 Nights Safari via Usambara mountains – Southern Circuit of Tanzania.

Arrival destination Kilimanjaro Airport overnight in Moshi town in the current chosen hotel.

Day 1: Depart From Moshi after breakfast to Lushoto town with some stopovers on the way for a landscape view enjoys the beauty of the countryside crossing tour. As you pass through the Pare Mountains are a sea of rolling hills, and the Usambara Mountains are very great for hiking there are numerous commercial centers to be seen along the way dinner overnight Irente view cliff lodge.

Day 2: Leisure breakfast before driving to Bagamoyo. This famous ancient slave trading and commercial center remains to be an interesting place to visit with the best beaches and nice hotels dinner overnight in the current chosen hotel.

Day 3 : Early breakfast before the Driving from Bagamoyo to Mikumi National Park. These 3230Square Kilometres the National Park is rich with four of the Big Five: lions, leopards, elephants and buffalos, together with many other games such as reedbucks, impala, hartebeest, jackals, and warthogs.
You will also see reptiles such as crocodiles, monitor lizards, and Pythons as well as different species of birds’ dinner overnight in the current chosen Lodge inside the park or Public campsite.

Day 4: With earlier morning game viewing en route while you leave Mikumi National Park to Selous Game Reserve in Southeast of Tanzania.

By late noon you will Enter Africa’s largest protected area uninhabited by man, where Tanzania’s greatest population of elephants wanders in an area bigger than Switzerland! Selous is considered important enough to be a World Heritage Site.

The 55,000 sq. km. park is almost four times the size of the Serengeti with large plant and animal diversity, including rare and endangered dogs and thousands of migrating animals.

Experience a safari in the absolutely wild and unspoiled bush. Selous possesses a diverse landscape like hot volcanic springs, sporadic lakes, and streams all from the great Ruaha and Rufiji River; Walking is permitted with an armed ranger dinner overnight tented lodge or public campsite.

Day 5: Full day game viewing in Selous Game Reserve Enjoy some of the world’s wonders — large herds of elephants plus lions, leopards, rhinos, buffalo, and many other varieties of game. Boating activities in the Rufiji River at Sunrise or Sunset are also available dinner overnight in the same previously Lodge or Campsite you arrived in your first night in Selous.

Day 6: Walking tour in Selous Game Reserve with a ranger guide. You can also take a cable car across the Stieglers Gorge for photography and fishing dinner overnight same Lodge or Campsite.

Day 7: Early morning enjoy your last breakfast in the largest game reserve in Africa before departing to Dar es Salaam Business City of Tanzania for a night in the hotel or late boat to Zanzibar for beach holiday/Dar es salaam Airport for your flight back home or to other destination.