The Usambara mountains are one of Tanzania’s concealed treasures. The mountain spans about 56 kilometers. The mountain comes across in the north-eastern corner of Tanzania and lies down into abutting Kenya. This area is truly notable as one of the last true Tanzanian wildernesses. The mountains are home to lush, virgin tropical rainforests that have a rich biodiversity all their own. The Usambara Mountains are a hiker’s promised land with a cool climate, winding paths, adventures around every corner and stunning views.
The Usambara Mountains are also home colourful, bustling Tanzanians villages, in hamlets perched terrifyingly on vertical cliffs. There’s even a town or two, if you are craving a little company.
Lushoto is a scampered town nestled in a shrouded valley. It’s the capital of the Usambara Mountain region and the heartland of the Wasaamba people. It’s a great base for some short hikes – for instance, to the Irente Viewpoint and the Magamba and Mkusu Forest Reserves. This is the place where your adventure starts.
Shagayu Forest is rich in biodiversity and one of the oldest natural forests. So if you’re a bit of a botanist you will love hunting for the flora and fauna that are unique to the Usambara Mountains. The forest is considered a biodiversity hotspot, so watch out for the African Violet and the rare juniper calodendrum eiki as well as the chunky Usambara Eagle Owl, the Usambara weaver bird and the tiny akalat in the montane forests.
IRENTE VIEW POINT
Picturesque views from different angles, over the Maasai plains and the village of Mazinde as well as the main road back to Moshi, hike up to the Irente Viewpoint, an easy 6km walk from Lushoto. You’ll wander through villages and cultivate farmland up to the Irente Viewpoint.
North of Mambo and northwest of the Shagayu Forest is a tiny hilltop village called Mtae. From here you have views of the Tsavo Plains and Mkomazi National Park, which are truly breathtaking. On clear days you can even see Kilimanjaro, the rooftop of Africa.
Mambo is a delightful village high up in the mountains. It has its own town crier and a day each week where every resident performs two hours’ voluntary work. There’s a colourful Thursday market and the constant bustling energy of regular Tanzanians living their lives. You’ll find a warm welcome here as a hub for some amazing experiences.
Walk uphill from Lushoto to the royal village of Kwembago, where you learn about the cultural history of the Kilindi ruling clan. From Kwembago you’ll have a beautiful view of Lushoto and the Maasai plains. Proceed to the Magamba rainforests, home to black and white colobus monkeys.
The “Growing Rock” tour starts from Soni. Walk to the top of the Kwamongo mountain, famous for its butterflies, enjoy views of Soni, Lushoto and the Handeni plains from the peak. Visit the villages of Shashui and Kwemula on the way. Descend to the village of Magila at the foot of the “Growing Rock” to visit a soil conservation project and learn the mystery about the rock.