Places of Interest
Sunday, 12 July 2020
Tanga’s old "boma" (colonial administrative building) has been refurbished and is now home to a small but beautifully curated museum with historical photos and artefacts from the area. Here you can learn about Tanga’s fascinating past, from colonialism through to independence, from passionate and knowledgeable staff. Make sure to ask your guide about the underground bunkers and secret passages to the sea!
Located on Independence Avenue (next to the Tanga Library), Urithi Museum
Mon - Sat 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
The Tanga Regional Library (formerly King George’s Memorial Library) is also well worth a visit. Located next door to the museum, it houses a surprisingly large collection of historical books including the visitors’ book that was signed by Governor Sir Edward Twining on March 11th 1958, when he came to open the library.
The building itself was built in honour of King George VI after the British requested all colonies and provinces build such monuments following his death in 1952. The building has undergone major restoration work in the past few years.
For a fun and quirky day out, nothing beats a trip around the Amboni Caves, an underground world of halls, chambers, niches and tunnels, some with stalactites and stalagmites. They are thought to be the most extensive limestone caves in East Africa, a one kilometer stretch of which can be explored with a local guide. You get to squeeze, crawl and climb about, all the while taking in the ancient paintings, animal footprints and signs of witchcraft. The guide will tell you about the different people that used these mysterious caves - and hidden in them - through the ages. See if you can spot the rock in the shape of the Virgin Mary and Statue of Liberty.
Located 5km out of Tanga City, off the Tanga-Mombasa Road.
About 17 km south of Tanga City lies the Tongoni ruins, the largest collection of Shiraz Tombs in East Africa. There are approximately 40 tombs on site as well as the remains of a Mosque that date from the 14th to 15th Century. The ruins indicate there was immense prosperity in the area before the Portuguese arrived and disrupted the trading routes on which the coastal towns, like Tongoni, depended.
With its rich history and fusion of cultural heritage that includes Arabic, German, Asian and British influences, Pangani holds a well-deserved spot on the list of Tanzanian must-sees. There’s plenty to do here - a historical town tour of the old port and slave routes, a beautiful river crossing across the Pangani river, village tours where you are welcomed into people’s homes for a first-hand Swahili experience as well as fishing trips and cycling tours. Alternatively you can take a boat trip to Maziwe Marine Park Island and swim, snorkel, soak up the sun and enjoy a spot of dolphin watching.
The Usambara Mountains are a part of the ancient Eastern Arc chain which stretch in a broken crescent from the Taita hills in southern Kenya down to Morogoro in Southwest Tanzania. 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.
Visitors to the area come for the incredible views, cool climate, meandering paths, waterfalls, viewpoints and picturesque villages. It’s considered an international hotspot for biodiversity, comparable to the Galapagos, even, with the East Usambaras in particular known as a bird watcher’s paradise.
The main centre for visitors in the Western Usambaras is Lushoto town. Here you can arrange hikes, bikes and tours through the forest, stroll through the arboretum, and check out the herbarium (pressed plant library), which has pressed 1000s of plants from Tanzania dating back to the 19th Century.
Just outside the entrance to the bay as you approach Tanga there’s a popular sandbar where you can anchor up and spend the day snorkelling, swimming, perhaps having a bbq.. Sometimes yachties arrange get-togethers there to do just that. It’s also a great place to go if you want to make water while enjoying a beautiful sunset.
Other places of interest around town
- The two important World War 1 cemeteries, the Sakarani and the Commonwealth War cemetery.
- The Usambara Courthouse.
- The original Clock Tower dating to 1901.
- The Katani Building and the lead Memorial Hall, both dating back to the early 1950’s.
Mkomazi National Park
This is a more intimate, less crowded and less expensive park than the other national parks in Tanzania, and it's also the closest. It's a vital refuge for two highly endangered species, the charismatic black rhino and sociable African wild dog. It is a magnificent, 3,500 square kilometre wilderness within sight of Mount Kilimanjaro and against the dramatic backdrop of the Pare and Usambara Mountains. To the north it shares a border with Kenya’s vast Tsavo National Park making common ground for migratory herds of elephant, oryx and zebra during the wet season.
During your visit you are likely to spot giraffes, oryx, gerenuk, hartebeest, lesser kudu, eland, impala and Grant’s gazelle who share the park with elephants and buffalo, as well as predators like lions, leopards and cheetahs. There are over 400 recorded species of birds there too including the martial eagle and violet wood-hoopoe.
There are beautiful look-out points throughout the park and if you want to enjoy some time there under canvas there are camping options available.