The Usambara Mountains are a mountain range in North East Tanzania and it’s known as a region with chameleons, tea plantations, and superb mountain views. The range is divided into two sub-ranges, East and West by the 4 km wide Lwengera Valley that lies in between, with East Usambara being closer to the coast receiving more rainfall, and is significantly smaller than the West. They are estimated to be at least 100 million years old, with the rocks forming them may be as much as 600 million years old, far exceeding the age of Kilimanjaro and Meru. When this rock was forced upwards it formed an island of plant life that has since enjoyed a haven of climatic stability, so rescuing such species from the intensive heat of the plains.
The range is accessible from the towns of Lushoto in the west, and Amani in the east. Considered by many as a ”break” for their safari, the journey takes you far from the usual safari destination and offers visitors a genuine and unique African experience. The area contains some 18 villages with a total population of about 15,500 dotting the mountain; with Lushoto town being the hub of tourism and various activities. Nestled in a fertile valley surrounded by tropical foliage, the leafy highland town of Lushoto makes an ideal base for hikes into the surrounding hills. Its rainforest is one of the most popular biodiversity places in Africa, supporting various animals and a variety of bird species. Activities available in the town and surrounding areas are never dull; with waterfalls that allow a swim in their cool waters; a hike through the rain forest; or a panoramic view of the Maasai Steppe.
Considered an international ‘hot spot’ for bio-diversity, the range’s natural vegetation of submontane forest supports a wide variety of flora and fauna, much of which is endemic and for which the area is renowned for both nationally and internationally. The forests host exciting and adventurous activities, some of which include:
- Magamba Rain Forest trek
Explore the indigenous and dense rainforest where you can see the black-and-white Colobus monkeys, among other unique flora and fauna
- Mkuzu Waterfall trek
Take a walk through small villages and the colorful forest to this small romantic waterfall situated within the rain forest
- The Growing Rock and Soni Waterfalls trek
Situated in the southern part of the West Usambara Lushoto Mountain Reserve, the Soni Falls display breathtaking scenery.
- Irente View Point hike
Hike to this outlook for spectacular views of the village of Mazinde and the Maasai plains almost 1000 meters below.