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Lushoto – Usambara Mountains

This bustling town is the main centre in this region and set high up amongst the peaks which ensure a year round climate that is cool and refreshing. German colonialists in the 19th century were quick to notice the potential of the area and built the town. Wilhelmsthal as it was known at the time became a favourite holiday spot for officials from the German administration.

Lushoto has an excellent market, good amenities and a tourist information service. It can be reached on self-drive itineraries from Dar es Salaam (6 hours), Arusha / Kilimanjaro (5 hours) and the port of Tanga (3 hours). The closest national airport is in Mombo (1 hour drive) or further afield in Tanga. Kilimanjaro and Dar es Salaam have international airports. Mkomazi National Park has Kisima airstrip for charter flights. There are regular buses from Dar es Salaam, Arusha and Tanga.

There is a variety of accommodation offered in Lushoto and in the surroundings at popular spots. Mkuzi, just outside Lushoto is a small village near a waterfall at the edge of the Mkuzi Forest Reserve. Hikers on overnight trails will find accommodation at the villages of Mtae and Mambo which are close to the Mambo Footprints and Caves and the beautiful Shagayu Forest.

Lushoto - Usambara Mountains Location

How to get to Lushoto (Usambara Mountains)

Lushoto, which is in the Usambara Mountains, is four hours drive on tarmac road from Tanzania’s business and financial capital, Dar e Salaam. Three hours drive from Kilimanjaro International Airport, and two hours drive from Tanga

Lushoto Executive Lodge is approximately 1.5 km from the District Commissioner’s office at Lushoto, into the Jaegertal forest. It is the best in the Usambaras, comparable to the very best in Africa. 

Lushoto, which is in the Usambara Mountains, is four hours drive on tarmac road from Tanzania’s business and financial capital, Dar e Salaam. Three hours drive from Kilimanjaro…

Lushoto Usambara Mountains

When to Visit Lushoto

Lushoto has a tropical savanna climate. It is warm every month with both a wet and dry season. The average annual temperature for Lushoto is 52° degrees and there is about 410 inch of rain in a year. It is dry for 96 days a year with an average humidity of 77% and an UV-index of 7.

The best time to visit Lushoto in Tanzania is from January through March, June through October and December. In this period you have a warm temperature and little precipitation. The highest average temperature in Tanga is 84°F in March and the lowest is 78°F in August.

If you’re looking for the very warmest time to visit Tanga, the hottest months are March, April, and then February. See average monthly temperatures below. The warmest time of year is generally mid March where highs are regularly around 91.7°F (33.2°C) with temperatures rarely dropping below 76.2°F (24.6°C) at night.

Things to do in and Lushoto

The Usumbara Mountains are ideal for scenic drives, hiking, biking, birding and just relaxing. Various directional viewpoints yield spectacular panoramas of Masaai lands below and the Pare Mountains, and on clear days you can see all the way to the coast and Mount Kilimanjaro.

Guided walks, hikes and tours can be arranged through the tourist centre in Lushoto. These walks and trails can take a couple of hours or you can embark on a variety of trails of between 2 and 8 days. Specialised birding safaris can also be arranged (at least 500 species in this area). Endemic birds include the Usambara Weaver, Usambara Akalat and the Usambara Eagle-owl.

GPS navigation is used on the fully catered guided hikes and overnights can be arranged at a variety of accommodation along the way, plus your luggage can be transported for you – ‘slack-packing’ at its best. For game drives and safari activities, Mkomazi National Park which is home to Big Five game, is only a 90 minute drive from the Mambo viewpoint.

Lushoto Usambara Mountains

Is cultural tourism socially responsible?

Cultural tourism can sometimes get voyeuristic and have undertones of ‘slum safari’. As a tourist, you might feel a bit uncomfortable by stepping into people’s homesteads and lives. Sambaa People of  Tanga ensure a socially responsible approach to this type of tourism by supporting local projects and giving money directly to the communities and people that are visited. 

For these people, touristic ventures are an important part of their livelihoods. By going with a guide you can learn about cultural practices and taboos, and they will be able to translate for them. Act responsibly and always ask for permission for photos! Abstain from children projects as the continuous coming and going of volunteers can lead to abandonment issues for children. 

Attractions in Lushoto

Lushoto Waterfall and Mkuzi Forest – enjoy hikes to highest peak in Usumbara amongst other walks and trails. Colobus Monkeys and exotic birds including the Trumpeter Hornbill are found here. Irente viewpoint and farm – this is a great hike which takes about 2 hours and afterwards you can enjoy a picnic lunch at the farm.

Shagayu Natural Forest – this stunning and ancient forest covers about 10 000 hectares. It is a botanist’s heaven with an incredible range of endemic species recorded in a protected area. Day walks and overnight trails can be arranged into the forest and to the mountain viewpoint.

Mambo Footprints and Mambo Caves – these pre-historic sites are located close to each other. It is thought that the early humans who made the footprints also occupied the nearby caves.

Pottery making – in the village of Kilieti is the Namisfueli Nyeki workshop where visitors can watch the products being made and also join in.

Masumbae Forest Reserve – is a bird watchers haven located close to the village of Soni.

Mkomazi National Park – Mkomazi is located in the northern foothills of the Usambaras and borders Tsavo East National Park in Kenya. This park is home to the endangered Wild Dog and Black Rhino as well as Buffalo, Elephant, Lion, Leopard and Cheetah. Plains game includes Giraffe, Hartebeest, Zebra, Eland and Kudu. Rare species that can be seen are the Gerenuk and the Fringe-eared Oryx. This park is a less crowded alternative to more famous and expensive parks and almost all animals can be found while on safari.

Lushoto Usambara Mountains

Where to stay in Lushoto

Everyone deserves a relaxing shower and a comfy bed to sleep after exploring a Tanga city, enjoying the beach, or facing a crazy adventure in the mountains. It can be a luxury hotel, a cozy guesthouse, or a friendly hostel. It doesn’t matter what type of accommodation you choose, the important thing is that it matches your needs, desires, and pocket. 

Booking the right accommodation can be easy and fun, but also rather challenging and tiring. We know that as we’ve been to all stages of searching, booking, and staying. Sometimes we successfully achieved our target (good shower and bed), others we missed it horribly (bed bugs and cold water). The positive outcome is that we’ve learned how to avoid pitfalls, and now it’s time to share our tips on how to book accommodation worldwide.

Regardless of your budget or your style of traveling, You book any hotel, hostel, camping site, or resort in Tanga. By doing so, you’ll avoid the risks of getting stressed during the booking process and, worse, staying in a bad place that can ruin your entire travel experience.


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