30 December 2020 - 06 January 2021
The Usambara Mountains are a mountain range in northeastern Tanzania, about 110 kilometres long, 30 to 60 kilometres wide and 2,290 metres high. They consist of two mountain ranges: the Western Usambara and the Eastern Usambara.
Due to their high endemism, these mountains have an huge ecological value. Unfortunately, despite substantial Tanzanian and international funding for their protection, the remaining forests are scattered among the cultures and villages. Wooded corridors between the various reserves are becoming rare....
The Tanzanian government's position is quite clear: the national parks are well protected, but especially those that generate foreign currency, such as the Serengeti. You will only come accross a few Rangers in the natural reserves less visited by tourists and no part of the Usambara Mountains is classified as a National Park. It was also difficult to understand whether the local communities are actively involved in the protection of these reserves and whether concrete projects are planned for them.
In the western part, we stayed at the Lawns Hotel https://lawnshotel.com/ in the hilltop town of Lushoto at 1200m. This is a rather noisy and uninteresting town, but it serves as a starting point for the Magamba Reserve, a fabulous mountain rainforest remaining, which is obviously home to many endemic birds.
Some details are available on the Tanzania Forest Service Agency (TFS) website
In Amani, in the eastern Uambara, the only affordable accommodation is an old chalet complex on the edge of a magnificent patch of forest, where night walks are possible without a guide and without any disturbance! This is quite rare in Africa in general. These nocturnal escapes allowed us to encounter many Frogs and Chameleons. Note that, as in all tropical forests, the animals are extremely difficult to see and our time was far to short.
Some details about Amani are available on the Tanzania Forest Service Agency (TFS) website
The Uluguru Mountains, part of the Eastern Arc Range, overlook the agricultural area around Mrogoro, a town about 190 km western of Dar es Salaam.
The Uluguru Mountains are named after the Luguru tribe, a matrilineal group that grows food crops on their green slopes.
The area has some of the oldest forests in Africa and is also again home to a variety of endemic birds.
After a chaotic drive and walk to the village of Tegetero, and a night spent in the village, we were able to camp in the forest for 3 nights, a highlight!
One of the targets was the Uluguru Bushshrike which we spotted for a few seconds... after 2 days of intense research.
Details are available on the Tanzania Forest Service Agency (TFS) website
The other visited regions:
- Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Crater (savannah and large mammals)
- Mkomazi National Park (north-east, large wildlife and birds)
- Mikumi National Park (large mammals in an extraordianary park...)
- Uzungwa Mountains (tropical mountain forests and surprise viper)