The Usamabara Mountains are very special mountains, often that tired cliché is used comparing them to Switzerland. These mountains are defiantly African mountains, not European but African.
Baron Von Saint discovered the African violet – the world’s favorite flower here in the Usambara’s in 1892, you will find them here in every shade of red, blue and pink. The primary source of knowledge for the cataloging of birds in this area is due to Reginald and Winfred Moreau who lived in Amani from 1926 to 1948.
The East Usamabara Mountains is accessible with care and a robust 4 x 4. Here you will find the Amani Game Reserve [Amani being Swahili for peace]. This Game Reserve is made up of lush cool forest and teaming with rare birds. Thirteen species of birds are registered on the list of threatened species.
Accommodation here is basic, clean and reasonably priced. Local people who speak English and are full conversant with the flora and fauna of the area are available for hired as guides. [Note that it is customary to tip for good service if you hire a guide]. The Amani Nature Reserve Information Centre was built by the Germens in 1914. The centre is open every day [so I am assured] and the entrance is free.
The rare Tailorbird (Orthotomus moreaui) Amani Sunbird (Anthreptes pallidigaster), Hyliota usambarensis, Dricrurus adsimilis and Terpsipone viridis are just a few of the long list of birds that are spotted regularly in this area. A more comprehensive list is available to anyone that is interested through the Tanzania Tourist Information website or specialist tour operators.
Trekking through these sometimes very cool and wet forests is the equivalent of being transported back to pre historic times. The effort and time spent traveling to this area is rewarding indeed; the experience so moving to be almost magical or spiritual. Once you have climbed up and through the sometimes quite steep forest, you emerge onto the Amani Plateau. There are also a large number of birds that are spotted at the higher altitudes so the climb is well worth the effort.
There are also large numbers of amphibians in excess of 33 species including some rare tree frogs in the more densely forested areas. The horseshoe bat, the three-horned chameleon, the rare zanj elephant shrew is also found here – as can many small rare reptiles and many colorful insects. The most notable mammals to be seen here are the black and white colobus monkeys.
Many tour operators do not usually offer a trip to the East Usambara Mountains – it may be easier to just visit the tourist information office – on either the web or Boma Street Arusha and arrange the trip yourself or let them recommend some operators that are willing to take you to the wonderful and seldom visited treasure in Tanzania.
About the Author:
We are a non-profit making organization – http://www.betheladventure.co.uk any additional information on the above is supplied through our website. We are a self help group, using tourism to change the community.
Written by: Ian Williamson