Culture In the Kilimanjaro Region
Moshi, is the main town in Kilimanjaro Region, it is small, but typically frenetic. Moshi is a market town with a population of about 150,000 and a surrounding rural population of 402,000. It is the regional capital of the Kilimanjaro region and the iconic, snow-capped Mount Kilimanjaro can be seen from town. The town lies at an altitude of 890m above sea level so the evenings a pleasantly cool compared to those in Tanga or Dar Es Salaam. The town is set in a fertile volcanic area, well fed by streams off the mountain, ideal for coffee crops, the most rewarding local source of income with the exception of Tourism.
From Moshi town there are a variety of different activities that can be tried. In the town itself you have the chance to visit the local market, or relax at one of the Coffee Shops.
Lake Chala is 30 km to the East of Moshi. Chala is a crater lake fed from Mt Kilimanjaro and is far from the tourist trail. The lake provides a magnificent picnic site and great bird-watching, with spectacular views in all directions. The lake is not safe for swimming as it has a resident crocodile population.
Also to the East of Moshi is the Njoro Forest. A guided walk in the forest will give you the chance to see an abundance of trees (including the tall Mvule trees). You can also watch Black and White Colobus Monkeys and a plethora of birdlife.
A visit to Kikuletwa Hot Springs is ideal for swimming in the warm water and relaxing after climbing Kilimanjaro. The surroundings provide stunning views with a great picnic site.
It is possible to go horse riding on the lower slopes of Kilimanjaro. I recommend a full days excursion to have a good explore of the area.
Nymba Ya Mungu Reservoir - A great place for birds, with fishing settlements around the lake. On the way you pass the TPC Sugar Plantation, a scenic drive especially when the flame trees are in blossom.
Lake Duluti 50 minutes from Moshi. Walk round the shores of the lake and enjoy a drink or some food at the caf or have a picnic.
Marangu Pass by the Ndoro waterfalls 40 minutes from Moshi. Walk in the national park with a guide. Drive to Marangu gate, take a guide and walk up to the first hut on the Marangu Route. A tough, full-day walk; wear good boots. You will need to pay for entry into the park.
Makoa Waterfalls and Uru Waterfalls. These are 10m and 50m waterfalls respectively. You can swim in the plunge pool at the base of Uru Falls. The falls are surrounded by local farms or shambas. Here you will have a glimpse into the past.
Marangu is 30km northeast of Moshi town at an altitude of 1800m. Getting there is about a 45 minutes drive form Moshi town. There a locally organized tours of either full or half day in length. Attractions here include waterfalls, great views, coffee bushes (this is where the first coffee bush in Tanzania was planted by German Missionaries), caves used during Maasai vs Chagga wars, traditional Chagga arts and crafts. There is also the chance to see a blacksmith at his ancient craft.
Although Moshi itself is home to a wide range of different people, the Kilimanjaro region is mainly made up of the Chagga Tribe, who reside on the slopes of Kilimanjaro and the Pare (from the Pare Mountains).
The fertile volcanic soil and constant, dependable rainfall on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro have always been a draw for human settlement. The Chagga are Bantu origin agriculturalists whose ancestors arrived in the area in the 15th century. The Chagga tribe had no tradition of central leadership with around 100 small chiefdoms existing in the mid 19th century. Their efficient farming skills meant that they have always produced a food surplus and they have a history of trading with the Maasai and other local groups, and later with Arab caravans.
Chaggas remain self sufficient for basic staples. Today the mountain is scattered with family shambas that produce a variety of subsistence crops. The major cash crop is still coffee, which was introduced during the colonial era and has been grown by small scale farmers who sell through a co-operative. The main agricultural activity is still coffee and some of the finest Arabica Coffee in Tanzania comes from the slopes of Kilimanjaro. Coffee growing provides the livelihood for thousands of people. The Chaggas have always had a reputation for hard work and diplomacy, and today many of Tanzanias political and business leaders come from Kilimanjaro Region.
For more information contactMountain Kingdom Safaris
Roy J. Hinde M.Sc. Is a former research scientist who is a director ofWild Things Safaris
and is is an environmental consultant forMountain Kingdom Safaris