The Northern Pare Mountains are situated 50 kilometre south-east of Moshi, almost in the shade of Mount Kilimanjaro. The mountains can be entered via the town of Mwanga, the district capital where huge palm trees grow abundantly in the water that streams downhill. From Mwanga a good sand road winds upwards to Usangi, the centre of the Northern Pare Mountains. Surrounded by eleven peaks, the little town is a centre of economic activities. Small local factories produce bricks, stoves, pottery and clothes. In their backyards, some families have local breweries, using traditional brewing methods inherited from their grandfathers. Every Monday and Thursday, there is a colourful market, where farmers from the surrounding villages come to sell their harvest.
Half a day walking tours from Usangi
The mountains are among the most fertile in East Africa, and villagers do there utmost to use every square metre of cultivatable land. Hand-made dikes have drained swampy areas, terrace-building has enabled cultivation on steep slopes and traditional irrigation systems bring water to many farms. On top of the mountains are protected natural forests and moor lands, that often have the status of traditional clan-forest in the Pare culture. In these forests, ceremonies take place and witchdoctors perform their magic powers. From the mountain tops you have wide views over the surrounding plains, seeing the extensive Kisangara sisal estate, the long-drawn lakes of Jipe and Nyumba ya Mungu (“House of God”) and at the horizon the Taita and Kiteto hills. Mount Kilimanjaro is a stone’s throw from the area and at many places the impressive mountain is revealed for your eyes.
We have developed various tours that show you the most interesting and fascinating places in the mountains.
Mangatu view tour
Through farms on the lower part of the slopes you gradually climb to the Mangatu moor land. On top you reach the Mbale clan-forest, from where you have excellent views of Mount Kilimanjaro and Lake Jipe.
Goma caves tour
Via the farms around Usangi, you reach Goma hill, where a century ago the Pare Chiefs dug deep caves to hide themselves against rival tribes and later the Colonial ruler. In a nearby hut the villagers still keep some 40 skulls of Pare chiefs who were killed in tribal and colonial wars.
One day walking tours from Usangi
Kindoroko forest tour
Via the Goma caves you gradually climb to the forest reserve on Kindoroko mountain. Kindoroko has the shape of a table mountain and once on top you can easily walk through the natural forest, while trying to spot monkeys and special birds. On the other side of the forest you will see stone terraces and irrigation systems in the village of Kisangara juu, before returning to Usangi via a route through the moor land.
Shigatini village tour
Via a natural forest you walk to the village of Shigatini. Here farmers will proudly show you the irrigation systems, soil conservation methods used and tree nurseries they have set up. Old churches and graves of the first missionaries can be visited as reminders of the early German influence.
Kamwala mountain climb
First we pass the Chegho moor land, where Mzee Keiya, an old farmer can tell you some fascinating stories about the miracles that took place here in the past. From here it is a steep climb through a natural forest to the top of Kamwala mountain. On your way up and down you alternately have good views to the plains North and South of the Pare Mountains.
Northern Pare Hikes
On request walking tours of several days can be organised, where you can walk long distances through natural forests, descend the mountains and spend a night with a local family in the village of Kisangara chini or visit the further Northern spurs of the mountains near the village of Ugweno.
Northern Pare car-round trip
Via Mwanga you enter the mountains and first go to the Northern spurs, where you stop at the Wara storage lake. From here you turn southwards to Shigatini and Usangi. On your way you have perfect views, visit some progressive farmers and local factories and see several relics from the time of tribal wars and colonial rule. The tour can easily be done as a day-trip from Moshi or Marangu.
Our guides all come from the region and speak reasonable English. Most of them are working as farmer or craftsman in the mountains. When there are tourists, the guides can easily find spare time to show the tourists the beauty of the area.
In Usangi, there are several local families that can offer a room to tourists. Most of these families stay at the compound of the Lomwe secondary school, where often one of the family members works as a teacher. The rest house of the school also offers three rooms for visitors. In Kisangara chini, tourists can spend the night at the Enimasha house of the Banduka family. Food can be provided at all of these places and is of good quality and prepared hygienically. In the mountains there are also areas that are suitable for camping.
German (GTZ), Dutch (SNV) and local (Enimasha) development organisations have initiated several development projects in the area. The organisations work closely together and try to assist farmers in increasing their agricultural production, while preserving the natural environment. The improved traditional irrigation systems, the soil conservation terraces on the steep slopes and the vast number of tree nurseries in the area are the most visible results. Recently, development organisations have also started to promote energy saving stoves, that use three times less firewood and therefore help to preserve the natural forests and reduce the workload of women. The profit from the tourism programme will be used for the promotion of these stoves.
SOUTHERN PARE DESCRIPTION:-
The southern Pare Mountains are situated in Kilimanjaro Region, about 150 kilometre south of Moshi. From the surrounding plains, the mountains look like a barren and deserted area, but when you start climbing the slopes, one of Africa’s most special landscapes is revealed for your eyes. Between huge desolate rocks lie small green river valleys where farmers have built impressive stone terraces. On top of the mountains is the Chome forest reserve, a dense tropical forest with many rare trees and plants. The forest offers an oasis of rest, beauty and fresh air. Visitors can easily walk a day through the forest without meeting anyone. The surrounding villages are among the most isolated places in Northern Tanzania and the local people have kept their traditional Pare culture throughout history. Narrow footpaths wind through the mountains from one village to another.
A stay in the Southern Pare Mountains can perfectly be combined with a visit to the neighbouring Mkomazi Game Reserve, where game drives and walking safaris are possible.
You can chose different modules that vary from 2 to 5 days. In the two day visit you first climb up the Pare Mountains to Mhero village, where some farms and development projects can be visited. The next day you walk through the Chome Forest reserve from Mhero to Gonjanza.
The three day module adds a day walking from Gonjanza to Mpinji, partly through the natural forest and partly through the cultivated southern slopes of the mountains, from where you have a beautiful view on the Usambara mountains. On the way you can see the old river forest along the Saseni river. The four day module includes a climb to Shengena peak. Strong legs and good shoes are required. The five day module adds a walking tour from Mpinji to Bombo, from where you will descend the Pare Mountains through the Gonja Forest reserve. On the horizon you will see the extensive plains of Mkomazi Game reserve.
Our guides were all born in the Pare mountains and are very familiar with the area. They speak good English and can tell interesting stories about history, culture and daily life in the Southern Pare Mountains. They also are well informed about the several development projects in our villages and have a lot of knowledge of the different trees and plants in the natural forest.
In the natural forest there are several lawns close to rivers that are perfectly fit for free camping. The water is very clean and can be used for washing, cooking and drinking. Modest accomodation can be povided in the villages.
Improving irrigation and preserving the Pare Mountains
During the past years the Netherlands Development Organisation has in close cooperation with the Pare farmers established a Traditional Irrigation Improvement Programme (TIP) in the mountains. The various forest reserves in the Pare mountains are of main importance for the irrigation programme. If the forests will not be well preserved, the sustainability of the irrigation systems can come under threat of diminishing water supplies and massive soil erosion. Deforestation will expose the land to wind and water, causing heavy erosion, faster surface run-off and less infiltration of water. Through afforestation and terracing farmers now try to protect their water and land resources. Some villagers however still cut trees in the forests, for which they hardly can be blamed, since they are struggling for sufficient food, fuel wood and income. Tourism can offer an alternative and more sustainable way of using the forest and may encourage all farmers to further conservation measures.