Book Flights to Lushoto

Lushoto – Tanzania

Lushoto with its mountains, excellent climate, and fertile grounds is a mecca for hikers and foodies. There are spectacular views, pretty waterfalls and lush forests with hiking trails. Or hike through the villages and fields for a different experience.

In the protected nature reserves of the Western Usambara Mountains, you will find many different species of plants, trees, birds and other animals, including many species of chameleon. In fact, this region is sometimes called the Galapagos of Africa as it is a biodiversity hotspot with many endemic species.

The fertile grounds mean lots of produce is grown locally with many lodges creating meals with their own products. Try some of the locally made wines, cheeses, jams and of course the coffee and tea from some of the small plantations. A true heaven for anybody who enjoys beautiful scenery, good, organic food, and drinks.

History of Lushoto

Not much is known about Lushoto’s history until the pale skinned, pale-eyed Kilindi dynasty appeared in the 18th Century, with their rainmaking magic skills. Their chief, King Mbega was given the honorary title of Lion King as he expertly hunted the bushpigs that were destroying the crops. He then ensured his leadership by taking a wife from every clan so each firstborn son would become the clan’s leader.

Attacks from neighbouring tribes and slave traders combined with infighting eventually weakened the powerful family, enabling the Germans to buy land in the valley cheaply when they arrived in the late 1890’s. Lushoto’s favorable climate and fertile soils attracted these settlers to build large farms and plantations and also to establish church missions. They named the valley around the town ‘Wilhelmstal’ after Emperor Wilhelm II as they wanted to set up their capital city here.

Main Attractions

Lushoto and its stunning scenery have appealed to visitors for many years, yet it feels decidedly undeveloped for tourism. Its main attractions are:

  • Hiking through spectacular scenery
  • See if you can spot one of many species of chameleons, or let your guide find them for you
  • Immerse yourself in the local traditional cultural practices
  • Sample some of the excellent locally produced foods and wine
  • Pick up a bird list and try to spot some of the many endemic species



Hiking through spectacular scenery

The ‘Switzerland’ of Tanzania, Lushoto, is a hiker’s delight. There are many different trails to be enjoyed that range in difficulty and length and rewards, from exhilarating scenery to fascinating cultural insights.

There are plenty of local guides to help you arrange your trips, including multi-day hikes and transport, as well as providing information about lots of aspects of Lushoto.

Spotting chameleons

The Usambara Mountains are known for the great variety of chameleons that can be found here and Lushoto in the Western Usambara Mountains is no exception. They are difficult to spot, so it might be best to hire a guide to receive all the help you can get in locating these cute, but grumpy looking animals.

Local traditional cultural practices

Experience some of the cultural traditions Lushoto has to offer by visiting the ‘royal’ village of the Kilindi tribe, investigate the traditional irrigations systems, visit a blacksmith and the pottery centre.

There’s an opportunity to learn some tribal songs and dances or witness them on show at one of the festivals.

Locally produced food and wine from the Usambara Mountains

Foodies will love Lushoto. There are fruit, tea and coffee plantations and many lodges, villages or missions produce their own organic fruits, cheeses, wine, and jams. Often they can be sampled and of course bought to take home or make into a lovely picnic for your hike.

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Excellent bird watching

Lushoto is famous for the many endemic species of birds that can be found here, as well as many other regional and national species. It truly is a bird watching paradise. Find a guide who knows their birds and where to spot them to ensure you get the best out of your trip.


How to get there

Fly to Lushoto

The nearest airport for Lushoto is at Tanga, which is less than three hours’ drive from Lushoto town. There are domestic flights connecting Tanga with Dar es SalaamArusha, and Pemba Island.

Another option is to fly to Arusha Airport or the Kilimanjaro International Airport and get picked up from there.

Drive to Lushoto

From Arusha it takes approximately 5 hours to Lushoto. Coming from the other direction, from Dar es Salaam, would take around 7 hours of driving.

Best time to visit

November to April are the hotter months in Lushoto. May to October are the cooler, more pleasant months

High season

The cooler and drier months from June to October are the best time to visit Lushoto. As well as the hotter summer months of December to February. These are all the drier months, but don’t forget that much of the rain forests are here because of the rain and it might rain at any time of the year.

Low season

The wettest months of the year are April and May and for hikers, these months are best avoided.


  • Baron Walter von Saint Paul-Illaire first ‘discovered’ the purple plants commonly known as African Violets in the Usambara Mountains in 1892. These pretty flowers have become traditional gifts for mothers and are often associated with the Christian celebration of Easter.
  • Lushoto is in the Western Usambara Mountains, which in itself forms a part of the Eastern Arc. The Eastern Arc was formed at least 100 million years ago, making this the oldest mountains in Africa.
  • From some viewpoints in the Usambara Mountains, you can see Kilimanjaro on clear mornings, around 250km away.

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