Hiking in the Morogoro Mountains, Tanzania
Hiking in the Morogoro Mountains, Tanzania
An incredible country with a plethora of amazing sights to see, Tanzania is attracting more and more tourists to its shores each and every year as the delights of Ngorongoro Crater, the heights of Kilimanjaro and the safaris in the Serengeti prove too tempting to pass up. And that’s without having even mentioned the idyllic beaches of Zanzibar!
While most people head to the coast or follow the Northern Circuit, the Southern Circuit is delightfully under-explored in comparison and there are a wealth of fantastic historical sights and natural wonders for visitors to revel in.
The laidback city of Morogoro is just once such hidden gem that is well worth visiting and if you’re a nature lover then its the perfect place to stop by for a couple of days.
While its leafy streets are pleasant to explore it is the towering Uluguru Mountains that form such a stunning backdrop to the city that really set it apart and snaking their way up the mountainside there are delightful paths and trails which are fantastic to hike.
Weaving their way between lush, verdant fauna and flora and well-looked after farms, these tiny paths will lead you on and upwards into the domineering mountains.
Passing small villages and sprightly old women haring up the mountainside, you’ll find small waterfalls hidden amidst the foliage and as you get higher; the view of Morogoro below only gets better and better. Small rivers emerge here and there, only adding to the picturesque scenery.
Free and unencumbered, nature hems in on all sides of you and the fresh mountain air is liberating to breathe in. Beautiful flowers and plants line the narrow paths as twittering birdcalls echo around the valleys.
After making your way up the increasingly steep paths, you’ll eventually come to a lovely plateau among the mountains whereby you can rest and look out over the beautiful view before you. The mountainsides plunge down in front of you and off in the distance you can spot the buildings of Morogoro far below.
On this plateau, you’ll find a charming yet falling apart building called Morningside that was constructed by the Germans when they ruled Tanzania. With its commanding views of the landscape below, one can only imagine what it used to look like in its heyday.
While this is the main viewing point that people head towards, adventurous hikers can continue on to Lupanga Peak; the highest point in the mountain range at 2147 metres. Small villages and picturesque villages dot the mountainside and other waterfalls such as Hululu are well worth heading towards in the higher realms of the Uluguru Mountains.
For a day full of adventure and beautiful scenery; it can’t get much better than hiking in the lovely mountains around Morogoro.
SEE – Photos & Videos
GO – Getting There
The main point of entry into Tanzania for international visitors is the Julius Nyerere International Airport in Dar Es Salaam. From here you then want to head to Ubungo Bus Terminal where you can easily get a bus to Morogoro.
It’s best to try and get a bus earlyish in the day as buses are not allowed to travel at night in Tanzania. Buses regularly depart for Morogoro and further afield and they often leave every half an hour.
It takes around three to four hours from Dar and it usually costs around 7-8000 Tanzanian Shillings (so about 3-4 dollars).
Once you arrive in Morogoro, you’ll immediately see the mountains rising up before you. It is best to undertake the trek in the morning so that you don’t get stuck up in the mountains once night falls so if you get there later in the day it’s best to wait until the next morning,
The upmarket Nashera hotel lies on the road to the Uluguru Mountains so all you have to do is head along that road, past the hotel and then keep following the path up the mountain. From then on it should be relatively straightforward and if you are ever uncertain, people are more than happy to point you in the right direction to Morningside.
Do – Activities & Attractions
Although it is the Uluguru Mountains that completely dominate Morogoro and its surroundings, there are a couple of other nice sights to visit nearby.
Morogoro is a very laid-back, rural city so it is a pleasant place to wander around and people are very welcoming and friendly. In contrast to its peaceful demeanour, the market is a lively and colourful place to stop by and an explosion of sights and smells will greet you.
The Hindu Temple is beautiful to visit and the nearby Railway Station is also worth stopping by when you’re making your way around town.
If you want to kick back and relax then head to Nashera hotel which has a lovely swimming pool set in pristine grounds with a fantastic view of the mountains. It costs around 5000 Tanzanian Shillings to access the pool and there is a nice restaurant in the hotel.
At night, some bars may have local bands playing Tanzanian and Congolese music for you to enjoy.
From Morogoro, you can easily arrange a visit to the nearby Mikumi National Park. A huge place, this lovely park is often overlooked by visitors to Tanzania and so you’ll hardly see another person in sight. Elephants, giraffes, buffaloes, zebra and hippos can be found here and its wild landscapes are stunning to behold.
Stay – Accommodation
Morogoro has a wide range of accommodation options varying from super cheap to expensive (at least for Tanzanian standards).
The aforementioned Nashera Hotel is probably the most expensive on offer and it really is a very nice place.
More basic rooms are on offer around the city and some go as cheap as 5000 Tanzanian Shillings (2 dollars)
Eat – Restaurants
In Morogoro, you’ll find the standard Tanzanian fare and there are lots of cheap yet delicious food stalls and restaurants around the city that sell mishkaki, ugali, chipsi mayai or rice and beans.
As its economy is based on agriculture there are lots of great fresh fruits for you to buy.
At some of the more upmarket hotels, you can find more Western fare if you are getting tired of eating the same meals all the time.
Time – Seasonality & Schedules
You want to avoid visiting Morogoro and the Uluguru Mountains from March to May as the rainy season in Tanzania makes the paths and trails very hard to navigate.
The walk can get very hot under the strong sun at any time of the year so it’s better to leave early in the morning so as to avoid the worst of the heat.
To trek to Morningside and back it will probably take you around six hours or a bit more depending on how fast you go.
If you intend on going further into the upper realms of the mountains then it is best to ask about in the city for accommodation options up in the mountains.
Safety – Possible risks
One of the safest countries in Africa, Tanzania is generally a delight to visit and people invariably come away having loved their trip.
Having said that, you do want to be careful however and not flash your cash or show off your valuables too much. While Morogoro is very safe, every now and again reports surface of people having being mugged in the mountains or asked to pay a small fee to continue on their way. You would have to be pretty unlucky for this to occur though it is best to take as little as possible with you when hiking.
As you will see on the bus journey to Morogoro, there are numerous bus wrecks on the side of the roads and the bus drivers seem to be daredevils in their approach to driving. Watch out for scammers when you buy the bus tickets.
Please Note: Travel inherently comes with an element of risk (just like crossing the road does). You are putting yourself in elements that are unfamiliar and foreign to your usual lifestyle and with that, become more susceptible to fall victim those who try to play off those unfamiliar to their local scams. There are also potential dangers in the environments to which you may not be accustomed to.
Please take extra care in travelling, ensure that you have adequate medical insurance (accidents seem to happen when you least expect them), and have let a trusted colleague, family member or friend know your whereabouts and activities.
Where Sidewalks End travel advises you to travel at your own risk, and to be extra aware of your surroundings (without letting it spoiling your time).
Pay – How much does it cost?
Tanzania is incredibly cheap to travel around and you can get around on less than ten dollars a day if you really want to stay in the cheapest places and eat like a local. Obviously, the nicer places cost a lot more though they are still on the cheaper side of things in comparison with other countries.
Hiking the mountain is free and the beautiful nature all about you is priceless!
Responsible Travel – Best Practices
Tanzania is a very laid-back place and people are generally very welcoming and interested to meet foreigners.
Just be respectful and polite to whoever you meet and you should be fine.
Reality Check – Be Aware
Climbing the mountain does get a bit tough in places and with the heat you’re going to want to take frequent breaks. Make sure to bring enough water with you.
It is a lovely hike however and most people should be able to complete it without too much difficulty.
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Have you ever been to a city that had a really unique historical or cultural feature? Where was it and what made it so unique?
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