Moshi

Moshi, our home town, is a small but typically vibrant Tanzanian market town with an urban population of 150,000 and rural population of 402,400. It is the regional capital of the Kilimanjaro region. What makes Moshi special is the fact that it sits behind one of the world’s most amazing backdrops, the snow-capped Mount Kilimanjaro. You can practically be anywhere in Moshi and feel imposed by the beauty of the mountain. Although the town lies at an altitude of 890m above sea level, you do not have to travel too far towards the mountain to feel that you are getting higher and can feel closer to it. The town is set in a fertile volcanic area, well fed by streams off the mountain, ideal for Arabica Coffee crops, the most rewarding local export.

Moshi is the kind of town where you can relax in its friendly atmosphere and just talk to people and observe the sights and sounds. We recommend that you try and spend a few days here just absorbing what a typical market town in Tanzania can offer. This is the kind of town where people have the time to talk to you and be a friend.

There are many interesting and picturesque excursion and tours you can take whilst you are staying at our home base:

Moshi town – A chance to absorb the atmosphere of the town, visit the local traditional market, spend a lazy afternoon in the sheltered garden of the Coffee Shop, play a spot of golf at one of the local golf courses or swim at the YMCA or one of the hotel pools.

Lake Chala – 30 km east of Moshi, this crater lake fed from Mount Kilimanjaro is truly an off the beaten track. The views of the surrounding area and the shores of the lake provide a magnificent picnic site. The lake is not safe for swimming as it is home to crocodiles.

Njoro Forest (Rau) - on the east of Moshi town in an area of high ground water fed by run-off from Mt. Kilimanjaro. A guided walk in the forest will give you the chance to see an abundance of nature, tree and woodland, including the tall Mvule trees. Watch Colobus monkeys eat wild fruits.

Kikuletwa Hot Springs – a natural clean spring water. Ideal for swimming in the warm water and relaxation. The surrounding areas provide stunning views with a great picnic spot and tour into one of the Maasai huts will be worthwhile.

Kibosho - a half hour drive from Moshi town. Visit the Catholic Cathedral or walk in the samba’s and forest. There are many large Catholic and Lutheran churches on the mountain with interesting stories behind them of how missionaries influenced the Chaggas who reside there. Kidia is the oldest German church in Tanzania.

Horse Riding – a half day or full exploring the lower slopes of Kilimanjaro on horse back.

Nymba Ya Mungu Reservoir - A great place for birds, with fishing settlements around the lake. On the way you pass the TPC Sugar Plantation, a scenic drive especially when the flame trees are in blossom.

Lake Duluti – 50 minutes from Moshi. Walk round the shores of the lake and enjoy a drink or some food at the café or have a picnic.

Marangu –Pass by the Ndoro waterfalls 40 minutes from Moshi. Walk in the national park with a guide. Drive to Marangu gate, take a guide and walk up to the first hut on the Marangu Route. A tough, full-day walk; wear good boots. You will need to pay for entry into the park.

Makoa Waterfalls – a 10m waterfalls created by the Makoa River in Machame. Surrounded by banana and coffee plantations where you get the opportunity to see the indigenous people conducting their daily lives.

Uru Waterfalls - Uru waterfalls, which lies about thirty minutes out of Moshi town. The 50 meter waterfall is one of the hidden treasures of Kilimanjaro Region and offers you the opportunity to hike through coffee farms and enjoy spectacular views. Enjoy a delicious picnic lunch at the base of the waterfall and swim in the pool of the waterfalls.

Mamba Marangu Cultural Tour- Marangu is 30km northeast of Moshi town at altitude 1800m, 45 minutes drive form Moshi town. They offer full and half day tour on the slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro. Attractions include waterfalls, beautiful views, coffee trees (this is the area where the first coffee tree in Tanzania was planted by German Missionaries), caves used during Maasai/Chagga wars, traditional and modern Chagga art, culture, and homes, see an iron smith at his ancient craft.

Machame cultural Tours – Machame area is a mosaic of beautiful valleys, deep gorges, rivers, waterfalls, farms and is a home base for Chagga people. You can visit the natural forests, bridges and caves where local people worshipped, learn about how projects are developed to suit rural settings (such as pottery for water and food storage), walk through the banana and coffee farmlands, learn about coffee production. Hikes in this area will be ideal for acclimatisation before climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro.

Historical Moshi
Moshi was the capital of an area ruled by Rindi, the great 19th century Chagga chief who became one of the most important chiefs in the area due to his diplomatic skills. Allying with the Maasai, he exhorted large taxes from passing caravans. When the first German colonial troops arrived at Kilimanjaro in 1891, Rindi assured them he ruled the whole area and convinced them to unite with him against his rival, Sina of Kibosho, signing away his territories rather than succumb to an undignified defeat. Both the powerful Rindi and Sina were hanged a few years later. Moshi became an important colonial centre of administration for the Germans, and later the English. The original Moshi - Old Moshi - is higher up the mountain and until the railway line reached the present day Moshi in 1911 and a station built, the headquarters of the German administrative district of Moshi was in Old Moshi.

The Mystery of Moshi’s Name
Although Moshi means smoke in Kiswahili, the origin of the name has always been a puzzle. Some suggest that it got its name from ‘Shashioni” a corruption of the word ‘station’ when in 1911, it became the terminus for the steam railway line from Tanga. Others propose that the reference to smoke is due to the town lying at the base of a volcano or the clouds that gather around the mountain. There are some who connect it with the former chiefdom of Mochi, in whose lowland the town lies.

Kilimanjaro Region
The region has a remarkable landscape, beginning with Mount Kilimanjaro, moving down the slopes to the flat plains south of the mountain then eastwards where you encounter the Pare Mountains. The Mkomozi Game Reserve lies behind the Pare Mountains. West from the Pare Mountains, you look over what seems to be everlasting flat plains, the Maasai Steepe, one of the places where the Maasai live. Discover for yourself the diversity in landscape, people and culture of the Kilimanjaro region.

People of Kilimanjaro
Although the town of Moshi itself is home to a range of different people, the Kilimanjaro region is predominantly made up of the Chagga, who reside on the slopes of Kilimanjaro and the Pare whose home is the Pare Mountains.

The fertile volcanic soil and reliable rainfall on the slopes of Kilimanjaro has probably always been a draw for human settlement. The Chagga are Bantu-speaking agriculturalists whose ancestors probably arrived in the area in the 15th century. The Chagga had no tradition of central leadership. Up to 100 small chiefdoms existed in the mid 19th century. Their efficient and industrious farming skills meant that they have always produced a food surplus and subsequently have a history of trading with the Maasai and other local groups, and later with Arab caravans.

Chaggas remain self sufficient for basic foodstuffs and today the mountain is scattered with family smallholdings that produce a variety of subsistence crops. The major cash crop is coffee, which was introduced during the colonial era and has been grown by small scale farmers who sell through a co-operative. The main agricultural activity is still coffee and some of the finest Arabica in Tanzania comes from the slopes of Kilimanjaro. Coffee growing is the livelihood of thousands of people. The Chaggas have a reputation for industriousness, and today many of Tanzania’s political and business leaders come from Kilimanjaro.