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Usambara logistics

Seattle, WA
Level Contributor
364 posts
61 reviews
Usambara logistics

Hi Everyone,

I've just about figured out what I want to do for my first visit to Tanzania this October but I am having trouble with one piece of the itinerary.

I want to spend 3 nights in the Usambaras between our 10 nights in the Northern circuit and 4 nights in the Pangani area. I'm fascinated by the whole area - East and West and am torn between staying in Lushoto or Mtae (at the Mambo Viewpoint EcoLodge) and using it as a base for day hikes or doing a short 2 or 3 day overnight hike. I want to experience the countryside, local villages, flora and fauna. I'm also interested in Amani.

It is not clear to me how to work it logistically. I will be coming from Arusha and going to Pangani afterwards.

My two main questions:

If you only have 3 nights is it better to stay in one place as a base or do a several day trek?

Is there a good, logistically realistic route to travel through the East and/or West Usambaras and end up in Pangani? I'm figuring that the answer to this question may determine where I visit in the Usambaras. I can afford to pay for private transportation if this works best.

Thank you for any advice or opinions you can offer

14 replies to this topic
Isle of Man, United...
Level Contributor
40,063 posts
452 reviews
1. Re: Usambara logistics

Lushoto area is the recognised 'centre;' for hiking however around Mtae is lovely and far less travelled by tourists. Mambo view lodge has several hikes on their website.

They also work closely with a local man "Tony" who is a competent guide and good company. He has transport and would easily be able to collect you from anywhere and also take you to Pangani area, via Amani if you wish.

Have a word with Herman at Mambo View, (if he is not reading this already!)

melbourne
Destination Expert
for Tanzania
Level Contributor
8,227 posts
2. Re: Usambara logistics

If you have 3 nights I would stay in one place only. So I would either go to Lushoto or Amani.

Lushoto for me is more for villages, hills and trekking in farmland...with some small forest reserve areas.

Amani is more for nature walks, night walks and tea plantations.

There is a campsite at the gate at Sigi the entrance to Amani Nature Reserve and also you can do a couple of walks from there, there is a museum as well, and a rundown guest house and campsite....here is the gate house to Amani reserve.

But this is still about 45 minutes or more from Amani village itself...here there is the Old British Colonial Club, now a guest house, lots of character, about $30 with meals pp. Shared dining room but here all the walks start. The plumbing isn't great..also old.

Activities in Amani add up fast as run by the wildlife department.

You need at least 2 nights at Amani but 2 at Lushoto is enough.

Glasgow, United...
Level Contributor
904 posts
3. Re: Usambara logistics

for 3 nights i would rather explore one area only,

i was in TZ just over a month ago and i have left some feed back for others.

links to some info to plan your trip:

http://www.tourradar.com/t/41559#details

sedadventures.com/safaris/…eastusambara.html

linkedin.com/groups/COME-USAMBARA-IN-TANZANI…

usambaraadventures.com/usambara_hiking_trips…

Seattle, WA
Level Contributor
364 posts
61 reviews
4. Re: Usambara logistics

Thank you all. It sounds like staying in one place is the way to go with day hikes from there. If I stayed in Lushoto - are Mtae and/or Amani on the way to Pangani? I've looked at several maps and it's not obvious to me. Is Lushoto nice in it's own right, or mainly desirable for it's use as a base? What I'm looking for is an area with lovely scenery to walk in, perhaps with some interesting villages to visit along the way.

Mtae sounds lovely and also Amani with the old British Colonial Club. They both sound very different but appealing in their own ways.

Isle of Man, United...
Level Contributor
40,063 posts
452 reviews
5. Re: Usambara logistics

It all depends on what you want to do and how long for.

Mtae is about 60km north of Lushoto so is a more remote and beautiful area. IF the weather has been kind you can drop off the Mountain there, one of the organised walks takes you down to be met by a car, and then head south to Pangani etc.,

I don't think you can get to Amani direct from there without descending and re-ascending although there are probably back roads but in poor condition.

Amani itself is a climb up from Muheza and out on its own. Really a destination on its own. Not seen a British colonial club despite several visits but one place I stayed was an Ex Government Rest House which may have seen double service. There is also a nice Lodge at Emau Hill.

Most accommodation is more rudimentary but comfortable.

Al the Usumbaras are on the way to Pangani as they lay in that direction from Moshi but all require a detour to reach.

Seattle, WA
Level Contributor
364 posts
61 reviews
6. Re: Usambara logistics

So I think I will spend the 3 nights at EITHER Lushoto, Mtae or Amani. Are they all no more than a day's drive from Arusha and Pangani?

Is getting there difficult (or time consuming) enough that it doesn't make sense to do for three nights between Arusha and Pangani?

Originally we planned to do the common itinerary of Arusha to Zanzibar at the end of our safari but I found myself wanting to explore somewhere more off the beaten track. I'm usually very glad I did this when traveling. Also, my adult daughter, who is coming with me, has a strong desire to go to the beach at the end so I'm trying to plan something that will make us both happy.

Thank you all for your help,

Isle of Man, United...
Level Contributor
40,063 posts
452 reviews
7. Re: Usambara logistics

Arusha to Pangani can be driven in a 'long' day. Each of the three places are very roughly half way. Mtae and Lsuhoto are accessed from the small town of Mombo, to where you must return to continue to either Pangani or indeed Amani. Amani is off the Tanga road so involves a longer drive from Arusha but of course that shortens the onward drive to Pangani down to a few hours.

If eco systems are important then Mtae and Lushoto area are more 'open' with woods. Amani is more heavily forested. If birds, butterflies and flora are of interest then Amani will appeal more.

Seattle, WA
Level Contributor
364 posts
61 reviews
8. Re: Usambara logistics

Thanks Mfuwe. That's very helpful. It is sometimes is very difficult to visualize how things will fit together when you're thousands of miles away looking at the internet or a guide book!

melbourne
Destination Expert
for Tanzania
Level Contributor
8,227 posts
9. Re: Usambara logistics

There were 2 old buildings in the town area 1 no longer available for tourists...the one I refer to was the old colonial club from the 20's and 30's and is now obviously the "Government" guest house.

There were books in the dining area and written on them was something like "Amani Colonial Club"

Anyway back to the op both are "on the way" to Pangani.

If I had a choice I would go to Amani ...look for ferns and African violets in the wild...this was where the African violets originally came from. Here you can also see gladioli and delphiniums in the wild and their seeds often used for cross pollination...in Europe.

There are also a lot of different begonias grown here as well...on the side of rocks....etc etc.

As Mfuwe said Amani is excellent for fauna and flora.

Seattle, WA
Level Contributor
364 posts
61 reviews
10. Re: Usambara logistics

Thank you noexpert. Amani sounds beautiful - in addition to the flora and fauna, are there any villages close by that could be visited on walks?

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