Hiking in Tanzania

The Republic of Tanzania is a country endowed with natural and cultural diversity offering amazing hiking safaris. Located on the coast of the Indian Ocean, Tanzania ranks as one of Africa’s top safari destinations. It is not just a setting for wildlife and birding experiences but also some of Africa’s most remarkable hikes and mountaineering. Tanzania offers both short and long hikes through craters, volcanoes and high plateaus, depending on one’s preferences and capabilities. The hikes take you through the country’s lovely National Parks offering ecstatic views of wild animals, lovely villages, lush valleys, and attractive rainforests in addition to the slopes of the country’s highest mountains.

From Africa’s tallest mountain peak and the world’s tallest free-standing snow-capped volcano, Mount Kilimanjaro to more ancient mountain ranges such as Mount Meru, Udzungwa mountains, Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Mahale Mountains, and the Usambara Mountains, among others. Hiking in Tanzania is one of the best adventure safaris you engage in. Below are some of the most popular hiking trails in Tanzania;

Mount Kilimanjaro

At 5,895m (19,341ft), Mount Kilimanjaro is Africa’s highest mountain and the world’s highest free-standing mountain located in Mount Kilimanjaro National Park. The renowned “Roof of Africa” offers challenging yet exhilarating mountaineering experience. The hike starts amid lush banana plantations on the heavily cultivated slopes at the base of Kilimanjaro and proceeds up to the Uhuru summit (5,595m). From soaking rainforest to alpine meadows, the hike continues through and crosses a barren lunar landscape to the twin summits, Kibo and Mawenzi. The final stage ascends a steep and slippery rock slope with sunrise and more breathtaking views over the grasslands far below.

Given Mount Kilimanjaro’s cold and wet conditions, in addition to its high altitude, hiking here can be physically demanding. There are eight possible hiking routes on Mount Kilimanjaro, your choice can be influenced by the terrain, cost of the trail, accommodation profile, and scenery, among others. Nonetheless, a 6 to maximum 9 days hiking safari to Mount Kilimanjaro should be enough to give you an exciting trekking experience to the world’s free-standing mountain. Please note that all hikes ought to be organized through a licensed trekking operator.

Mount Meru

Mount Meru is the second-highest peak in Tanzania at 4,566m (14,980ft) located in Arusha National Park. A hike to Mount Meru’s summit is a challenging trek that can be completed within 4 days, but it is a quite rewarding hike with unique views and stunning scenery. Starting from a base in the grasslands, Mount Meru’s summit hike offers lovely views of giraffes, buffaloes, elephants, and leopards. As you ascend higher, panoramas of the dramatic landscape await you. And at the summit, enjoy a long walk at the edge of the crater rim with beautiful sunrises and magical views of Mount Kilimanjaro.  Compared to Mount Kilimanjaro, hiking Mount Meru is quite easy and it can be conquered within 4 days. Nevertheless, one still ought to take note of factors such as the steepness, altitude, and utter escarpment at the final ascent. Since Mount Meru is in Arusha National Park, all hiking experiences are supervised by Park rangers.

Ngorongoro Conservation Area

Unlike most popular hikes which are done up the mountain ranges, the Ngorongoro Crater highlands offer more shallow and wide-open slopes up the volcano. Located in Northern Tanzania, about 190km west of Arusha, Ngorongoro Conservation Area is home to the highest density of wildlife in Africa. It is composed of rugged terrain ranging from steep escarpments and verdant rims to dense forests and panoramic volcanic peaks. Hikes in Ngorongoro are only a day long and are done in two sessions. That is the day hike that goes up Makarot Peak (3,130m). This hike is very rewarding with views of the caldera’s vast landscape and grasslands. Hikers also ought to enjoy astonishing views of gazelles, zebras, buffaloes, elephants, leopards, and black rhinos.

Furthermore, the overnight hike which is also the shortest is one of the best routes in the area. The trek takes you through the beautiful grassy peak, Olmoti Crater, and finally to the spectacular Empakaai crater lake. Hiking in Ngorongoro Conservation Area may be quite easy, but it still requires one to be in good physical and mental shape.

Ol Doinyo Lengai Volcano

This is an active volcano found in Ngorongoro Conservation Area and it is often described as the “Mountain of God” by the natives. Hiking up this volcano takes about six-hours trek,  this includes trekking up steep deep sand and loose rocks. The hike begins from the camps on the borders of Lake Natron and it offers unforgettable views of the mighty Serengeti plains, Lake Natron, and the dramatic scenery. The hike start early in the morning and lasts most of the day. And like any other hike, physical fitness, comfortable hiking shoes, and plenty of drinking water, among others are required.

Udzungwa Mountains

Characterized by tracts of rainforests that sweep across the Park’s rolling hills and highlands, thunderous waterfalls and various endemic plant species, Udzungwa National Park is one of the loveliest destinations to visit in Tanzania. The Park is not just home to twelve primate species, several wildlife, and bird species but also the famous Udzungwa mountain ranges which offer thrilling hikes. The most recommendable hikes in the Udzungwa mountains are the hike up Mwanihama Peak (2,080m) which takes up to 3 days. The hike offers  magnificent views of the vast bamboo landscape and Sanje falls. The second hike is the 6-day trail which is a bit challenging and goes up to Luhombero peak.

Usambara Mountains

The Usambara mountain ranges are the most spectacular highlands in the Republic of Tanzania. They are located between Mount Kilimanjaro and the North-eastern coast of the country in Moshi town. The lush green ranges with a cool climate offer some exciting hiking trails with a combination of cultural safaris. There are weeping hills, valleys, farmlands, highlands, and small villages which provides easy and difficult hikes. However, the best experience would be 2 to 3 days of moderately challenging hiking safari. One needs to be in good physical shape and mentally prepared. These hikes and treks stroll through a range of village tribes, tea plantations, and verdant forests and valleys, all with magnificent views.

Nonetheless, there are several destinations in Tanzania with thrilling hiking and trekking safaris, both short and long. Among these include, the Mahale Mountains, Mount Hanang, Uluguru Mountains, and Mount Longido to mention but a few. To conclude, hiking safaris in Tanzania can be done throughout the year. However, the best time to enjoy hiking would be during the drier months of the year between July to October. During this time, the weather is suitable, thus making trekking easy and better views.