The mountain region of Tanga are the Usambaras, they consist of two mountain blocks. The smaller East Usambaras lie closer to the coast, are less populated and the primary attractions are the two nature reserves, Amani and Nilo. The West Usambaras are separated from the East by a valley and are approached via the district centre of Lushoto. The Usambaras are part of the Eastern Arc, a world biodiversity hotspot. This exceptional diversity attracts naturalists from all over the world who come to watch birds, study trees and flowers or butterflies. Besides the two nature reserves of the East Usambaras, there are in the Western Usambaras the newly gazetted Magamba Nature Reserve (includes Shume forest), the privately owned and well-protected Mazumbai reserve, and a number of other forest reserves like Shagayu, Mkuzu and Ndelemai.
What to do:
- Forests, which are among the biodiversity hotspots in the world, are best visited with a guide from a number of guide organizations in Lushoto, Mtae and Mambo or guides working for hotels or lodges
- Hike or Bike through the Usambaras for one or more days
- Cultural Walks – These can visit villages, farms, markets and food processors. The mountains are rich in fruits and vegetables. Visit tree and fruit tree nurseries and the Tanzania forest research institute in Jaegertal, Lushoto.
- Tea Factories – Visit a tea factory and learn where your daily cup of tea comes from.
- Viewpoints – The mountains overlook vast plains and on a clear day you can almost see forever (Irente view point, Nyumba ya Mungu, Mambo view point, Mtae views) From the last two you can even see Kilimanjaro!)
- Climb Mtumbi peak (2270m) or Kideghe peak (2215m) the highest peaks in the Usambaras
- Waterfalls – Visit a waterfall after a trek through forest and farmland (Soni waterfalls, Mkuzu waterfalls, and Kideghe falls).
- Historical Places – Old buildings from the German colonial time on Boma road in Lushoto; from the police station, up the road to the district office, passing the post office building (built 1913). The State house situated on the road up to Magamba was built for the German Kaiser and it today used by the government. Also near Mambo some old German farms are found.
Relax on your dream vacation on one of the untouched beaches of the Tanzanian mainland coastline.
What to do:
- Sand Banks – A daytrip to one of the many sand islands in the area for some snorkelling, swimming, diving or simply enjoying the beautiful turquoise sea.
- Sailing – Get a glimpse of the African sailing tradition and cruise along the coastline in a ngalawa (canoe) or a traditional dhow.
- Fishing – Enjoy a day trip fishing with local fishermen.
- Kayaking – Looking for some adventure, then take a kayak and paddle out from the beach and view the coastline from afar.
- Windsurfing – with great winds throughout most of the year and warm water temperatures, windsurfing is a great way to get active and spend your time at the beach. Beginner’s courses are also offered.
With Maziwe Island Marine Reserve, located 15 nautical miles off the coast of Pangani, the Coelacanth Marine Park, just off the coast of Tanga, and many more reefs and sandbanks, Tanga Region offers many opportunities to explore the underwater world of the Indian Ocean.
Along the Tanga coast in the Coelacanth Marie Park there is a sizable population of the huge and unique Coelacanth fish that live in deep water, where the continental shelf drop off. They were only discovered in 2003, when fisherman started catching them accidentally in deep-sea nets.
Besides these, blue spotted rays, crocodile fish, leaf fish and Napoleon fish are among the common encounters; you will see soft and hard corals, sea stars and even green and olive ridley turtles can be spotted. On Maziwe Island a joint project is helping the conservation of these sea turtles and more information can be obtained in the lodges on the coast.
What to do:
- Snorkeling – even without any prior experience, explore the colorful underwater world of the ocean first hand by going snorkeling just off the beach on one of the many reefs or go by boat to sand banks and deeper reefs
- Scuba Diving – Lessons for beginners and guided excursions for experienced divers are offered by several lodges on the coast. Even for youngster from the age of 8 can take part in a beginner’s course. The untouched reefs are an amazing sight, especially when you are diving almost all by yourself in the crystal clear waters of the ocean.
- Game Fishing
Safaris away from it all, the real nature adventure, no other cars with you and no traffic jam next to the lions. Enjoy totally private safaris in two of the newest National Parks in Tanzania, Saadani National Park on the coast and Mkomazi National Park on the border with Kenya. Gazetted as national parks in 2005 and 2008 respectively, both of the parks are not on the regular safari itinerary, but more than worth a visit.
Saadani is the only wildlife sanctuary in East Africa to boast an Indian Ocean beachfront: ‘where beach meets bush’. It is unique in that it is both a savannah and a coastal park. Saadani is small at 1,100 km² but is very diverse. Within its boundaries are beautiful beaches, a stretch of the Wami River before it meets the sea, the biodiverse Zaraninge coastal forest and acacia savannah. A wide range of grazers and primates can be seen on game drives and walks, among them giraffe, buffalo, warthog, common waterbuck, Lichtenstein’s hartebeest, wildebeest, zebra, red duiker, grey duiker, dik-dik, sable antelope, yellow baboons, as well as vervet, colobus and Sykes’ monkeys. Herds of elephants are encountered with increasing frequency and several lion prides are resident, together with leopard, jackal, African civet, serval cat and spotted hyena. Take a leisurely cruise up the Wami River looking for hippo, the illusive crocodile and Nile monitors. There are over 220 species of birds. A map for Saadani you can find
Mkomazi lies between Pare and West Usambara mountains and Kenya. It is contiguous with Kenya’s biggest protected area – Tsavo National Park. Together with Tsavo it is 24 245 km² in size and it forms one of East Africa´s most important savannah ecosystems. It is one of the richest savannahs in Africa and possibly the world, with rare and endemic fauna and flora, e.g. the black rhino and wild dogs. Most of the large mammal species found in Tsavo are resident in Mkomazi or else regularly migrate back and forth. One has a good chance of sighting the long-necked gerenuk and the northern subspecies of oryx (Oryx gazella callotis) which has long tufts of hair growing form the tips of the ears. It is the only Park in Tanzania with large and visible population of gerenuk. African wild dogs were re-introduced in the 1990´s. Black rhino have been re-introduced from South Africa´s Addo National Park and are held in a special fenced sanctuary. Finally Mkomazi boasts over 400 species of birds. A map for Mkomazi you can find
What to do:
- Game Drives
- Boat Safari
- Walking Safari
- Night Game Drive
- Birding Safari
Providing such diverse ecosystems, from open savannahs to rain forest, from mangroves and river shores to coast lines, a wide variety of birds are calling Tanga region their home.
With more than 500 species of birds alone in the East Usambara mountains, birding is a rewarding experience not only for bird lovers.
What to see:
- Endemic Birds such as Long-tailed Fiscal (Lanius cabanisi), Zanzibar Bishop (Euplectes nigroventris),
- Migrant Birds such as herons, bee-eaters and the European Roller
- Endangered Birds such as Usambara Eagle Owl (Bubo vosseleri), Usambara Weaver (Ploseus nicolli), Amani Sun bird (Anthreptes pallidigaster) and Long Billed Tailorbird (Orthotomus moreaui), Southern Ground Hornbill (Bucorvus leadbeateri)
Different tribes are melting together in the Tanga Region. The Handeni District is home of the Maasai plain. It spreads from the foothills of the Usambara Mountains southwards. In the 1700´s the honey people or Wambugu, came down from Ethiopia to the Usambaras and settled here, next to the Wasambaa.
The Swahili Coast in the region stretches from the Kenyan border along the districts Mkinga, Tanga and Pangani which were important trading centres for slaves and ivory when the Sultan of Muskat and Oman moved to Zanzibar in 1832. He controlled a coastal strip stretching 16 kilometers.
Small fishing villages line the coast today and no visitor can fail to be charmed by the sailing dhows and ngalawa (canoe) that sail up and down the coast.
What to do:
- Guided Walks – Visit the remaining historical buildings and monuments in the region on a cultural walk. In Lushoto town there are some old buildings built in the German style from the olden days. Cultural and historical walks in Tanga city and Pangani are a wonderful way to experience local life and see colonial history.
- Crafts – Learn more about arts and crafts and visit women in villages, sewing shirts with century old sewing machines or men carving wooden products, pottery making the Usambaras.
Music, &Dance – Experience traditional local dances and music from the variety of ethnic groups living in the Tanga Region.
- Traditional beliefs
- Traditional medicines
- Joining youth group
- Agricultural activities
- Traditional meals preparations
- Participating in environmental conversations activities
- volunteering opportunities
- Visiting local economic projects (Bee keeping, Animal keeping, milk processing, sisal processing to raw materials and salt mining visits),
- Butterfly farming visit,Bird watching, Game Fishing.