The Southern Pare Mountains are situated in Kilimanjaro Region, about 150 kilometers South of Moshi. From the surrounding plains, the mountains look like a barren and deserted area, but when you start climbing the slopes, one of Africa's most special landscapes is revealed for your eyes. Between huge desolate rocks lie small green river valleys where farmers have built impressive stone terraces. On top of the mountains is the Chome forest reserve, a dense tropical forest with many rare trees and plants. The forest offers an oasis of rest, beauty and fresh air. Visitors can easily walk a day through the forest without meeting anyone. The surrounding villages are among the most isolated places in Northern Tanzania and the local people have kept their traditional Pare culture throughout history. Narrow footpaths wind through the mountains from one village to another. A stay in the Southern Pare Mountains can perfectly be combined with a visit to the neighboring Mkomazi Game Reserve, where game drives and walking safaris are possible. You can choose different modules that vary from 2 to 5 days. In the two day visit you first climb up the Pare Mountains to Mhero village, where some farms and development projects can be visited. The next day you walk through the Chome Forest reserve from Mhero to Gonjanza. The three day module adds a day walking from Gonjanza to Mpinji, partly through the natural forest and partly through the cultivated southern slopes of the mountains, from where you have a beautiful view on the Usambara Mountains. On the way you can see the old river forest along the Saseni river.
The four day module includes a climb to Shengena peak. Strong legs and good shoes are required. The five day module adds a walking tour from Mpinji to Bombo, from where you will descend the Pare Mountains through the Gonja Forest reserve. On the horizon you will see the extensive plains of Mkomazi Game Reserve.
GUIDES: Our guides were all born in the Pare Mountains and are very familiar with the area. They speak good English and can tell interesting stories about history, culture and daily life in the Southern Pare Mountains. They also are well informed about the several development projects in our villages and have a lot of knowledge of the different trees and plants in the natural forest.
FACILITIES: In the natural forest there are several lawns close to rivers that are perfectly fit for free camping. The water is very clean and can be used for washing, cooking and drinking. Modest accommodation can be provided in the villages.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROJECT: During the past years the Netherlands Development Organization has in close cooperation with the Pare farmers established a Traditional Irrigation Improvement Programme (TIP) in the mountains. The various forest reserves in the Pare Mountains are of main importance for the irrigation programme. If the forests will not be well preserved, the sustainability of the irrigation systems can come under threat of diminishing water supplies and massive soil erosion. Deforestation will expose the land to wind and water, causing heavy erosion, faster surface run-off and less infiltration of water. Through afforestation and terracing farmers now try to protect their water and land resources. Some villagers however still cut trees in the forests, for which they hardly can be blamed, since they are struggling for sufficient food, fuel wood and income. Tourism can offer an alternative and more sustainable way of using the forest and may encourage all farmers to further conservation measures. If you are interested, please check out these links: volunteer page (in order to see possible types of activities, then we can organize placement within our capacity) or contact us.