People are finally realizing that the wilderness is a necessity, and that going to the mountains is synonymous to going home.
For me, the Usambara Mountains is like that lost rib. Sometimes home is overrated.
Here’s where it all started:
A friend and I were planning to getaway for a few days. Strange cuz it was only a few days after the Turkana trip. Have you guys visited that place yet btw? Why do I seem to need so many breaks? Okay, let’s call it homesickness and carry on ?
Texts later, I come up with Tanga. It’s close to home plus I’ve never been so why not. Then it so happens my friend can no longer make it cuz their business needed them to be there and all. By now you know I am well used to that and I actually plan for such eventualities, no?
Well, it just got better cuz I get to stay for as long as I like ?
Further searches show that the Usambara Mountains are in the Tanga region. Mountain and beach! Doesn’t get sexier than that, or does it?
I forgot to tell you guys about my experience in Arusha and Dar ?. It was so terrible that I had sworn not to go back to Tanzania again. For some reason everyone was out to rip me off and couple of thousands of shillings later, I still had to struggle to have fun. We really need to talk about this sense of entitlement that is even affecting the younger generations and making them forget what hard work is.
So now that you have context, I was out to prove a point: there are good people out there. I have never left “home” for a trip and came back disgruntled. I had to make some changes. Top on the list was to avoid any guides. Spoiler alert: that worked great!
Packing for the Usambara Mountains and all things in between
I once sucked at packing, and while I can’t say I’m perfect –yet- I have mastered some skill. I packed for the trip in less than an hour since the bus leaves Mombasa at around 7:30 which is very early for me. Another interesting bit is that I chose not to book a room until I got there. Again, that worked great!
The Usambara Mountains are quite a distance from Tanga town. Btw this post will constantly assume that you’re accessing them from Mombasa, or at least Kenya. From Dar, Lushoto – town to the mountains- is about 4 hours on road. From Arusha it takes around 6 hours by bus.
Here’s a link you’ll probably find useful.
Coming from Tanga, you need to change buses at Segera since you’ll most likely be on the one headed to Dar. Most of the buses at the Segera junction are the local ones that never get full and also make stops after every minute. While that might be amusing for the first few stops, you are certain to get worn out soon after. So why not indulge in some of the cheap oranges as you wait for the “big” buses from Dar to Arusha!
Sent from Heaven
After I got off from the bus at Lushoto, I needed to get a local sim card. That’s common practice for me since I constantly need to be online. 30 minutes and hundreds of stares later, I’m finally directed to some mamas shop. So you know, to this point I have not had any bad experiences yet. After I’m done with the purchase and all, she wants to know about me, my country, what an African girl is doing on the road alone…
All I can say is I get chatty, sometimes ? ?
It’s almost 6 p.m. and I need to find a place to sleep. She makes a few calls and minutes later I’m sorted. Her extremely lovely kid who’s now my younger sister is now back from school and we head out for dinner and later to what’s gonna be home for the next week. I initially thought I’d do 3 days there – random searches on the www made me believe that would be enough. They were wrong. I had trouble leaving what is considered the Switzerland of Africa. Or is Switzerland the Lushoto of Europe. Look guys, it’s that good.
My hosts are the kindest people ever. The “are” is very intentional since I have never made a booking at another place since the first time I visited. No, they are not on Airbnb yet, not on booking.com either but I know they are working on changing that. As always, I’m generous with these numbers – just drop me a message to that regard or anything else really ?
Usambara Mountains – the beaten path
As is the case with most of my posts, the Usambara Mountains are way out of the Tanzanian tourist circuit though I know that will change soon, especially after this post.
My hosts also doubled in as my guides – talk about hitting the jackpot!
The Magamba forest is a good place to start your exploration. This forest has a lot of historical significance. It even has a cave made by German colonizers. Unfortunately someone took the key with them when we visited. Either way, it is a really cool place to chill. Bring your picnic and warm clothing as it gets very cold up there. We bought mangoes on the way and plucked some Chinese lantern (I had to Google this – I call these fruits nathi ) on the way. In case anyone is looking for hints, this is my kinda life! The forest was very calming, the air so fresh, the sky so clear… everything was perfect.
Hiking the Usambara Mountains
Remember the woman I met when I arrived? She closed her shop the next day to accompany me on my hike. Seriously Lushoto is too personal for me. People with different religious beliefs, very different cultural and social backgrounds… people so different yet so similar teaching me lessons that no book could ever do. When you hear me talk about family this is what I mean. Okay, enough of that.
We went to the Irente view point which is nothing short of majestic. For the purposes of this post, I’ll show you pictures from two different routes (did the view point again when I visited the second time). Here goes too many pics for you only >>
From Irente, we went back home though one may proceed to Lukozi through the villages or through the Magamba forest. It is also very possible to have a feel of both.
From Lukozi, we proceeded to the Mambo view point which is essentially one of the highest points of the Usambara Mountains. You’ll go through Manolo and Sunga which are beautiful villages with angels instead of people.
I won’t talk about the views; I’m leaving that to you. Here’s a YouTube link to a video I took for greater perspective. I’m also dropping many images down here for you >>
Also, there’s the Mkuzi waterfall and lots of apple farms nearby. Organic apples, guys.
Huma – ne
I’ve consciously made this post about humanity and if you were keen enough, you know Tanzania is now one of my favorite countries. I keep saying that for me, more than anything else, it is about the people. I love these ones; you will too. The nature? You will go crazy.
A few more pointers for you only:
- Food is dirt cheap. Go to the market and cook your food then come back and tell us how much you saved. The last time I was there I did $15 for 10 days and that was cuz we buy organic chicken at least once when I’m around.
- There are fruits everywhere. You’re allowed to pick them at will as long as you don’t take them away to sell.
I guess that’s all there is; foodies there you go!
Would you like to know more about this place? Leave a comment below or anywhere else. Y’all have links to all my social profiles.
Cheers to humanity!
Light and love ✌ ✌