Winding paths and picturesque villages
The lush green Usambara mountains have a cool climate and invite you make to beautiful walks with panoramic views
This Tanzanian kitchen garden is the international hotspot for biodiversity and a colourful introduction to a gem of Tanzania.
- Surface 3.500 km2
- Inhabitants 419.000
- spring rain season April & May
- fall rain season October & November
About Usambara Mountains
The Usambara Mountains is a bird paradise with many plants and animal species that occur nowhere else.
Because of the picturesque villages, colourful markets and plantations, this lush area is a welcome retreat from the busy cities and game parks.
Landscape and products of Usambara
Unlike the classic image of East Africa – savannah – the Usambara mountains are lush and green. The Usambara mountains are covered with virgin tropical rainforest that has been isolated for a long time, leaving many special plants and animal species only to exist here.
Of the over 2000 plant species, 25% is unique to this area, just like 50 of the 275 tree species. The unique animal species found here are mainly molluscs, amphibians and reptiles.
In addition to rain forests, the Usambara mountains contain cloud forest, grassland and agricultural land.
The Usambara Mountains is usually divided into two parts: the West Usambara Mountains and the smaller East Usambara mountains, separated by a four km wide valley. You reach the West Usambara mountains – which are most accessible – from Lushoto and the East Usambara mountains from Amani.
The Mountains’ highest peaks reach to 2440 meters and lie near the Lushoto.
Most residents are self-sufficient farmers, who heavily rely on the forests around them for timber, medicinal plants, open spaces for agriculture and fuel wood. Agricultural products are: corn, cassava, potatoes, tea, cardamom, vegetables, fruit and more.
Moreover, people live off tourism.
Climate & seasons
The climate of the Usambara mountains is comfortable all year round and differs a lot from the rest of Tanzania. Basically there is rain all year.
The eastern Usambara Mountains are closer to the coast, therefore receiving slightly more rain than the western Usambara Mountains.
The higher areas are colder than the lower areas.
The temperature is between 16 – 30 degrees during the day and between 11 – 16 degrees at night.
March til May:
Most rain falls in April. Many hiking trails are therefore not passable during this period.
June til September:
This is the ‘cool’ period in the Usambara Mountains. There’s little rain and the temperatures are around 11 degrees at night and around 19 degrees during the day.
October til December:
Precipitation levels are rising again, this is the hottest period. During the day, temperatures can rise up to 30 degrees.
January and February:
Temperatures slightly drop again, to an average of 23 degrees. Precipitation varies.
1. The Usambara Mountains are part of the Eastern ARC (Eastern Academic Research) Chain, (like the Udzungwa Mountains) and are divided into two series separated by a four km wide valley.
2. The western Usambara Mountains, around Lushoto, are most accessible. The eastern Usambara Mountains, around Amani, are less developed.
3. The main tribes are the Sambaa, Kilindi, Zigua en Mbugu.
4. After the Sambaa kingdom of Mbegha, Germans settled down in this area in 1862. This made the Usambara Mountains part of the German East Africa and later of the British Mandate of Tanganyika.
5. Lushoto was called Wilhelmsthal in German times and was a favourite holiday destination for colonial rulers. Nowadays, you can still find many traces of the German time here.
6. The Usambara Mountains are estimated to be at least 100 million years old and the rocks that form them can be up to 600 million years old. The first settlement dates back 1.5 million years, near Mambo.
7. There are several authentic and picturesque villages in the area.
8. Due to the great diversity of unique animals that only occur in this area (endemic species), the Eastern Usambara Mountains are often compared with the Galapagos Islands.
The most important center in the west – the most accessible part – of the Usambara mountains is the city of Lushoto, with its arboretum (tree garden) and herbarium (plant museum). Here, you can also walk through the forest and seek out old buildings from the German and British colonial eras.
Usambara mountains is enjoying nature, culture, relaxation and hiking.
Animals in the area
Because the Usambara mountains have been isolated for quite some time, its flora and fauna contain many unique species.
Common animals include the diver antelope and wild boar, two types of monkeys and many bird species. Unfortunately, the elephants and leopards that once inhabited the area are no longer here.
Dieren overzicht Usambara Mountains
- Diver species
- Diverse bird species
- Monkey species
- Mountain frog
- Wild boar
Stays in de Usambara mountains
Stay in a very atmospheric eco-lodge, with breathtaking views over the African plains and mountains with the Kilimanjaro in the back.
Great as a starting point for stunning eco-cultural walks.