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Usambara Mountains are situated in the northeastern part of Tanzania between Mount Kilimanjaro and the Indian Ocean Region of Tanga. It has been dubbed the “Galapagos” of the plant world. This incredibly beautiful and lush area is a welcome retreat from Tanzania’s Game Parks and cities. Because of its pleasant climate, the mountains were favored by the Germans and the English during colonial times, as is evidenced by the numerous historic buildings from the past. The mountain region is ideal for hiking as well as some spectacular driving.
From a distance the mountains are a colorful mosaic. On the fertile slopes around Soni and Lushoto farmers cultivate small plots but further away from the towns large areas are still covered by dense tropical forests.
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 tremendous pallet of unforgettable colors. the following day tours we do not organise ourselves, but encourage you to join a local tour operator, which supports a community project.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.