Usamabara Mountains Travel
This little-known mountain range is one of the gems of Tanzania. Lying north of the Korogwe-Tanga road, the Usambara’s are a relict patch of the great tropical forests that once spanned Africa from the Atlantic to the Indian Oceans, and have more in common with the forests of West Africa than those of the east side of the continent. 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 Usambaras are a treasure house of botanical and zoological diversity, with a huge number of endemic tree and plant species. Although large tracts of the original forests have been levelled for coffee and tea planting, enough of the original wilderness remains to make this a hiking, birding and primate-spotting paradise.
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 Usumbaru) eucalyptus and fig trees are all to be found.
There are two main entry points to the forests: From Lushoto in the west, and Amani in the east. Lushoto is reached by branching off the main north-south highway at Mombo and heading up a spine-chiller of a pass, while Amani is reached by turning off the Tanga-Korogwe road at Muheza, and following the spectacular dirt road that winds up through a series of hairpin bends into some of the most beautiful scenery in East Africa.Birders will want to keep eyes open for three species endemic to the Usambara forests – the Naduk eagle owl, Usambara alethe and the Usambara weaver. This is one of the best places in East Africa to see notable birds like the green-headed oriole, Amani sunbird, bar-tailed and Narina trogons and Fischer’s turaco. Amani was once a resort for holidaying German officials, and there is a basic guesthouse and a campsite set amidst the spectacular forest.
Usamabara Mountains Highlights
- wildlife tours
- bird-watching tours
- cultural tours
- mountain bike riding
- camping tours