The Usambara’s are a part of the ancient Eastern Arc chain which mountains stretch in a broken crescent from the Taita hills in southern Kenya down to Morogoro and the southern highlands. They are estimated to be at least 100 million years old and the rocks forming them may be as much as 600 million years old. The mountains are home to an exceptional assortment of plants and animals and represent one of the highest degrees of biodiversity on the continent
The range is accessible from the towns of Lushoto in the west, and Amani in the east. The Usambaras are commonly split into two sub-ranges, the West Usambara and the East Usambara. The East Usambara is closer to the coast, receives more rainfall, and is significantly smaller than the west.
The East Usambara mountains belong to Eastern Arc Mountains, which is a chain of isolated mountains stretching in a great arc from Southeast Kenya to Southwest Tanzania. Geologically the mountains are very old – at least 100 million years. The total area of African rain forests diminished due to cold and dry periods which started about 2.5 million years ago. The Indian ocean maintained the moist climate required by the rain-forests. The individual Eastern Arc Mountains became isolated from the large African rain-forests and finally from each other.
Visitors come to the Usambaras to enjoy its nature, relax and hike. The main centre for visitors in the Western Usambaras is Lushoto town. In Lushoto, you can walk through the arboretum, hike in the forest, look for old buildings from the German and British colonial eras. A fascinating stop is the herbarium (pressed plant library) in Lushoto, which houses 1000s of pressed plants from Tanzania dating back to German times (1886-1916).
Located in the North-Eastern part of Tanzania, Lushoto is dubbed ‘the hill-station of Tanzania “. With the outlook dominated by the colourful mosaic of the Usambara Mountains, this lush area is welcome retreat from the busy cities and game parks of the country.