Book Flights to Iringa

Iringa – Tanzania

Iringa is a pleasant town with plenty to offer. Start your holiday with a wildlife safari tracking down the amazing wildlife in Ruaha National Park for a few days. Then strap on your hiking boots for some spectacular hiking in the Udzungwa Mountains National Park.

Although many use Iringa as a stepping stone to those two world-class national parks, it is worth spending some time in Iringa itself. Dive into the past and check out the Isimila stone age site and follow up with the rock paintings at Igeleke. Or hike up to Gongilonga Rock for a great view over Iringa, this lookout was once used by a local chief to defeat the Germans.

Don’t forget to buy yourself a present and go home with some beautiful, internationally renowned baskets, all woven locally from milulu grass by the Hehe women. Or support the famous Neema Crafts centre where people with a disability learn a skill.

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Why visit Iringa?

  • Step back in time when visiting the stone age site Isimila and the rock paintings at Igeleke
  • Take in the great views over Iringa from Gongilonga Rock
  • Organise a day trip or spend some more time in Ruaha NP, one of Tanzania’s incredibly diverse wildlife parks
  • Swap the safari vehicles for your hiking boots and explore the trails of the Udzungwa Mountains National Park, the park with the second largest biodiversity of all parks in Africa
  • Buy some of the famous Iringa baskets, made with Milulu grass by the Hehe tribe
Overview
  • Time zone: UTC / GMT +3
  • Currency: Tanzanian Shilling (TSh, often written as =/)
  • Driving: left-hand side of the road
  • Power Outlets: 220V-240V 50Hz. Plug types are ‘Type D & G (British)’
  • Closest airports: Iringa Airport (IRI)
Best time to visit

Iringa can be visited year-round, but if you are using Iringa as a base to explore Ruaha NP then it is good to know it is easier to see wildlife in the drier months from June to October. April is the wettest month and some lodges might be closed.

The same rule applies if you want to visit the Udzungwa Mountains National Park where the rainy season from March to May can make the roads and trails slippery.

It gets cold at night in the winter months (June to October), make sure to bring clothes to keep you warm at night.

Sights and sounds

Iringa is a small city in the Southern Highlands of Tanzania and is the closest town to the spectacular Ruaha National Park. Perched on a hilltop overlooking the Ruaha River, this quiet and peaceful town was established by the Germans during colonial rule in the 1890’s. Iringa’s mini Bavaria feel remains today, with the original German market, military hospital, and several colonial houses still standing.

Just 15km out of town is Isimila, the cool Stone Age archaeological site. You can find the fossil remains of ancient creatures here, mammals related to the giraffe with shortened necks and an extinct species of hippos. In a deep valley, stunning sandstone pillars reach for the sky in scenery straight from a sci-fi movie. Unearthed piles of primitive tools reveal our hunter-gatherer ancestry from over 60,000 years ago. Take an official guide with you as they provide more fun facts and even a demonstration of how to make slingshots from tree branches!

The rock paintings at Igeleke are even closer to town and are from the Iron Age. It’s a relatively easy climb to the rock shelter to admire both the views and the paintings. Considering they are 3,000 years old, they are in pretty good condition ad well worth checking out.

In town it is hard to miss Neema Crafts. It is not only a great initiative to provide disabled citizens with meaningful employment and development of skills, it also supplies the best cake in town. To support them you can spend the night in their guest house, eat in the lovely café, buy some of their beautiful crafts or you can even get a massage and know that the money you spent goes to people who need it.

From Iringa you can access Ruaha National Park for some top-notch wildlife viewing and the Udzungwa Mountains for some excellent hiking in this biodiversity hotspot. But before you leave Iringa, don’t forget to pick up some baskets made by the local Hehe women. They are made of milulu grass and are sold all over the country as well as exported, and you can pick up your own set right here where they are made.

Dining and Dietary Considerations

Iringa is a small town and offers a limited range of restaurants and cafes, but those available mostly offer good food at reasonable prices.

Western, Tanzanian, Italian, Chinese, and Indian food can be found in several restaurants, with Neema Crafts also offering excellent coffees and cakes.

If the service is good, leave a decent tip, it is much appreciated.

Religious and Cultural considerations

As in the rest of Tanzania, Iringa has a mix of religions leaving peacefully together. Around one-third is Christian, another third is Muslim and the rest follows other faiths including traditional beliefs or have no religion.

Whilst Iringa is not extremely religious, it shows respect if you are aware of some cultural do’s and don’ts:

  • Shoes should be removed when entering a home or place of worship
  • Dress modestly in public
  • Topless sunbathing and homosexuality is illegal

In some public places, the consumption of alcohol is not allowed.

When photographing people, always ask permission first and agree on payment if required. As a general rule, ask.

Cost of Living

Iringa has accommodation, transport, food and excursions available for all budgets. Some of the accommodation is not located in town, but can be found closer to the national parks’ entry gates. This applies to both Ruaha NP as well as the Udzungwa Mountains NP.

This is what you can expect to pay in Tanzania for:

  • Domestic beer (0.5-litre bottle) in a supermarket – 2,552TSh
  • Imported beer in a supermarket (0.33-litre bottle) – 3,833TSh
  • Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro) – 3,313Tsh
  • A bottle of coca cola / pepsi (0.33-litre bottle) – 1305TSh
  • A small bottle of water (0.33-litre bottle) – 857TSh

DID YOU KNOW?

  • Iringa is home to Neema Crafts, a social enterprise training many people with disabilities a skill so they can start their own businesses. Make sure to visit and support this excellent centre that has won many awards
  • The locally made woven baskets are not only famous in Tanzania, but are exported and feature in prestigious interior design magazines. They are made from milulu grass by the women of the Hehe tribe
  • Chief Mkwawa, the one who defeated the Germans around 1890, had 62 wives. His skull, complete with bullet hole, can be found in the Kalenga museum

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