The Best Hiking Destinations in Tanzania
There are many hiking destinations in Tanzania to impress all kinds of hikers. The tallest free-standing volcano, Mount Kilimanjaro, crowns them with a snow-capped summit, and the chains of mountain ranges make Tanzania a high-profile hiking destination. Scenic rugged terrain, vast plains, crater lakes, rocky summits, and a fascinating cultural backdrop create several challenging and adventurous trails in this East African safari giant.
Here, we share some of the most rewarding hiking destinations in Tanzania that are worth checking out.
Mount Kilimanjaro, the world’s tallest free-standing volcano, is what attracts most hikers to Tanzania.
Beginning amid banana plantations on the mountain’s heavily cultivated lower slopes, the trail up to Uhuru Summit (5,895 m) passes through dense rainforests to alpine meadows. It crosses a barren lunar landscape Kibo and Mawenzi summits. The final stage ascends a slippery scree slope to the peak with breathtaking views over the plains far below.
Kilimanjaro’s cold conditions and high altitude make hiking here a physically demanding but non-technical pursuit, the ascent possible for regular trekkers who are up for a challenge. You have more than eight possible hiking routes on Mount Kilimanjaro. Your choice can depend on the terrain, acclimatization profile, scenery, and the cost of the trail.
Plan at least 5 to 10 days round trip for the Uhuru Summit attempt and budget at least $1600 to include fees, rangers, guides, porters, and a chef. Kilimanjaro is not like many hiking destinations in Tanzania where you can venture independently. You must organize your hiking challenge through a licensed operator like Encounter Africa or from the many in Arusha and Moshi. Your operator manages accommodation booking, gear, guides, and everything you’ll need for the climb.
Mount Meru is Tanzania’s second-highest peak at a 4,566m-altitude in the shadow of Mount Kilimanjaro. If you have done Mount Kilimanjaro, Mount Meru is worth adding to your list of top hiking destinations in Tanzania. It is quite rewarding because of its adventure thrills, unique views, and breathtaking scenery at the ash cone summit and crescent volcano crater.
The Meru’s summit trail starts in the grassland and forested lower slopes where zebras, warthogs, giraffes, buffalo, and leopards dwell. It rises through beautiful meadows and ends with a scenic and quaint walk along the knife edge of the crater rim.
Hiking Mount Meru is not as challenging as Kilimanjaro; you can comfortably conquer Meru in four days and three nights. Although you shouldn’t underestimate the summit, its steepness, sheer escarpment on the final ascent, and altitude effects make it almost as challenging as the Kilimanjaro climb.
Since Mount Meru rises within Arusha National Park, all hikers must be accompanied by a park ranger arranged at the park’s visitor center. Plan to spend at least $800, including park fees, permits, accommodation, and a support crew of rangers, guides, porters, and chefs.
You can organize your hike with us at email@example.com or with a trusted operator in Arusha.
Mount Longido Forest Reserve
About a 2-hour drive north of Arusha is a 2,629-meter Mount Longidorocky peak in the Mount Longido Forest Reserve, one of the hiking destinations in Tanzania worth the challenge. The climb is pretty steep and strenuous, with an incline of more than 1300 meters through the forest to the summit.
Mount Longido trail is not very popular with hikers. Therefore, you will have a private off-the-beaten path through the mystical forest and the incredible golden sunset at the rocky summit.
Mount Longido hike is about 14 km and can take about five hours for the ascent and 3 hours descent; you can hike it in a single day. If it gets very tough, you can camp at the summit and enjoy the incredible sunset and sunrise scenes at the top before coming back down.
Because of its steep incline, Mount Longido is quite difficult for many hikers with moderate physical ability. The terrain is steep, rocky, and in some areas, overgrown with shrubs.
Ngorongoro Conservation Area
Ngorongoro Conservation Area, located 190 kilometers west of Arusha, is one of the most amazing Hiking destinations in Tanzania. Its shallow crater centerpiece filled with surmount wildlife makes it one of the region’s top safari destinations. It has rugged terrain varying from steep escarpments and grassy ridges to dense forests and scenic volcanic peaks.
The beauty of hiking in Ngorongoro is that any trail can lead you somewhere. One of our best routes is the overnight hike in the grassy peak, shallow Olmoti crater, and breathtaking Empakaai crater lake.
Another is a day-hike up Makarot peak of 3,130m with grasslands and vast landscape views. The five-day walk from Ngorongoro Crater’s northern edge via Empakaai Crater to the summit of the active Ol Doinyo Lengai is also worth hiking.
All Ngorongoro hikes start at the park entrance, requiring that you pay a day’s park entrance fees of about $70 per person, including the guide. You may need vehicle or donkey support to carry your supplies in the park because there’s no infrastructure. So spare about $300 per day for the hike. For longer walks, organize your trip with us.
Ol Doinyo Lengai Volcano
Lengai Volcano is one of the most challenging hiking destinations in Tanzania. Basing from camps on the fringes of Lake Natron, most hikers take on the five-six-hour hike up Lengai at about midnight to catch the epic sunrises at the summit. The five to six-hour walk is quite challenging, climbing solidly uphill, sometimes on a path of deep sand, and other times on loose rock.
You can join the Lengai-Empakai trail for long hikes on a two or three-day trek. Starting from the Empakai rim, you’ll trek through forested rolling hills and plains stretching to volcanic peaks. The trail goes through remote villages with simple homes and friendly, curious locals, women in colorful robes, and bell-clanging cows across grazing fields.
You can camp out overnight before making your way to Natron and Lengai the next day. The hike starts early in the cool morning and takes most of the day, and it requires a comfortable level of fitness and plenty of water. Consider at least one night to camp and rest around Lake Natron before joining the hiking trail.
Udzungwa Mountains National Park
Thundering waterfalls, steep slopes, twelve unique primate species, and a wealth of particular plants and bird species are significant attractions to hiking in the unknown Udzungwa Mountains National Park. It is located about a six-hour drive southwest of Dar es Salaam. It is one of the most rewarding hiking destinations in Tanzania for nature lovers that want a more private experience.
The park’s scenic rainforests spread across rolling hills, valleys, mountains, numerous waterfalls, and plunge pools. The waterfalls are incredibly refreshing on a summer hike.
Although the basic infrastructure will need you to bring your tent and supplies, the night-time symphony of forest insects, the burbling of streams, and the Kilombero plains’ incredible views are gratifying.
You can quickly access the Udzungwa Mountains on the 340-km A7 highway from Dar-es-salaam. The 2-night, 3-day Hike up to Mwanihana Peak (2,080m) and the challenging 6-day trail to Luhombero Peak (2,579m), are the most recommended hiking trails in the Udzungwa Mountains.
Budget $40 for guiding and park fees and other money you’ll spend on food and supplies. You will also need transport from your base to the trailhead.
The Usambara Mountains are located near the northeastern coast, exhibiting some of the most exhilarating landscapes in Tanzania. They make some of the best hiking destinations in Tanzania for cultural immersion with weeping hills, mountains, valleys, farmland, and small village tribes.
There are several hikes of varying difficulty in the Usambara Mountains. Still, the best of them is the 2-3-day hike at a reasonable price. The walk strolls through vast tea plantations, cornfields, and small tribal villages with some of the most cheerful faces.
The base has several small eco-lodges that focus on local and specialized guides. You can base your hiking expeditions here and find guides to take you through this beautiful and unique nature reserve.
When to go
All hiking destinations in Tanzania are incredible all year round because of the region’s tropical weather. However, the best time for hiking trails in Tanzania is during the dry season, between late June to October and late December to early March.
Most trails become highly muddy and challenging during the long rains from March to May. Hiking during the rainy seasons is not recommended.
When you book with Encounter Africa Safaris Ltd, our consultants can combine your hiking adventure in Tanzania with the gorilla trekking experience in Uganda or Rwanda. The best holiday to explore the richness of the East African region.
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