Iringa is a town in the Southern Highlands, Tanzania.
You can get to Iringa by bus or plane (see below). There are many bus companies now going to Iringa but some are dangerous. Recommended bus companies include Sutco which depart at various times starting at 6 am. You can also get Deluxe Tours, Upendo, and Hood. Be aware of aggressive touts at the bus station in Dar es Salaam. Some Upendo buses are worn out and without AC. They often overcharge for the ticket so it is best to make your way to the bus office or to the bus and purchase from the company representative directly. There has also been incidents of fake tickets being issued and once the bus is underway, you may find yourself paying again. Do not leave any carry on bags unattended while at rest stops. The bus is not secured and you may lose your laptop etc.
It is approx 11 hrs bus trip from Dar Es Salaam to Iringa. The journey itself is absolutely beautiful and you get to travel through Mikumi National Park (offering a mini safari en-route). Once you crest Kitonga mountain, you will feel the temperature change and know that you are truly in the Southern Highlands
There are also flights to and from Dar es Salaam. Auric Air offers daily flights to Iringa for $180 one way. Taxi fare from Nduli airport to Iringa town is 25,000 - 30,000 TSh.
Iringa is the 'Gateway to the South' when you are heading into the Southern Highlands or if you are off to visit Malawi and Zambia. If you are going back the other way towards Dar it is definitely a much nicer place to stop than Morogoro. It would be all too easy to just see Iringa as a blur as you hurtle past in a bus sipping your complimentary soda, but is definitely worth breaking your journey for a day or so to take in the sights, sounds, and smells of this bustling historical town. It was the epicentre of resistance to the German army as they were soundly defeated by Chief Mkwawa, the Wahehe leader at the battle site of Lugalo. Walking tours of the town are available by inquiring at Neema Crafts.
It is also the gateway to the jewel in the crown of Tanzania's game parks: Ruaha. There are several reputable Safari & Tour companies in Iringa town who offer day or overnight trips to the nearby National Parks Ruaha & Udzungwa. Alternatively, you can take a bus or taxi to Tungamalenga village which is 15 km from the park gate and there are several lodges and camps on the park perimeter which also can arrange game drives into the park
- Historical Architecture 'New Iringa' was established by the Germans in 1896 by Captain Tom Von Prince, as a military fort (boma) which served as the staging point for the hunt of Mkwawa who escaped from Kalenga and avoided the Germans for 4 years. Still standing are the original German market, military station and hospital, along with many colonial houses built prior to 1918.
German Military Boma at Iringa 1909
- Gangilonga Rock (talking stone). This large rock gives you great views over Iringa. To get to it you walk through the well-off suburb of Gangilonga where all the NGO offices and government workers houses are. The rock was used by Mkwawa and his soldiers to watch the German movements and to communicate with other lookouts. There is now tourist facilities at the site and a full time security guard as there have been previous issues with robbery of visitors.
- Commonwealth Grave Yard Iringa was captured by the British in 1916 and many of the war dead from the battle are laid to rest in the Commonwealth Grave Yard. There are both German and British graves as well as those of town residents and administrators from the 1930's to 1960's.
- Isimila Stone Age Site. About 15 kilometers from town towards Mafinga, easily accessible by daladala or taxi. It is approx 3 km from the highway to the interpretive center. It is an interesting site dating from the Achuelian period (1.5 million to 200,000 years ago). There is a static display of recovered stone age tools including handaxes and cleavers. Please note that there is a charge of 20,000 TSH for non-residents to access the site.
- Kalenga Village & Museum.At Kalenga, you can view Chief Mkwawa’s skull which was returned by the Germans after many decades. As well, you can see the ruins of Mkwawa's fort which was destroyed by the Germans with artillery from Tosamaganga. There is also a 20,000 TSH charge for non-residents to visit the small museum where Mkwawa's skull is displayed (This is a standard charge for all sites maintained by the department of antiquities)
Chief Mkwawa’s skull at Kalenga
- Matumaini Women's Centre in the Saba Saba district is well worth a visit. Matumaini Centre means "Centre of Hopes" and offers support and reintegration of young unmarried mothers into society, providing education and vocational training. Some of the graduate tailors run a cooperative selling products to support the centre. The Mamas are the most welcoming in all Iringa and are happy to tell you all about their work. You're sure to leave with a smile! If you walk along the Uhuru Avenue (Dodoma Road) in the direction of Kilolo, you will find it on your right. You can also take a dala dala going to Kilolo or Mkimbizi from the main bus stop in the city and get off at the station “Saba Saba”.
- Neema Crafts Centre is a great place to visit with cafe with great cake and fresh ground coffee, a tour of the workshops is great to see all the different crafts being made, especially paper from elephant dung.
- The rock paintings at Igeleke. The paintings are from the Iron Age and were made by Bantu type people who migrated from South Africa. Numerous tools, pottery shards and bones have been recovered from the site. You will find the site about 5 kilometers from town center, on the edge of Iringa, on the Dodoma highway. To visit, take a 'Kilolo' bound dala dala from Posta asking for "Igeleke Primary School". The ride should take around 15 minutes and cost the standard town fare of TSH400. After dropping from the dala dala head to the left. You can see a large rock perched on the right side of the hill in front of you. This is where you are climbing to and its about 20 minutes walk away on a relatively easy path. You will pass Valentine Conference Center and Igeleke Primary school. Continue on the road and soon you will a path leading up to the base of the rock. There is new fencing around the site as a cultural heritage program is in the process of upgrading the site. There is signage posted indicating a charge to enter however currently it is not being enforced. The paintings are a nice compliment to the Isimila stoneage site and provide testament to the long habitation of the Iringa area.
- Iringa Swahili School. Take Swahili courses with Iringa Swahili School. Classes are at Rivervalley Campsite (formerly Riverside Campsite). This Swahili school is used by many NGO's, humanitarian and missionary organizations. It is considered one of the best Swahili courses in Tanzania. Visit Iringa Swahili School for more information.
- Learn about the AIDS pandemic first hand. Iringa region has the highest infection rates in the country. The Amani Orphanage in Mbigili(around 25 km from Iringa, located in Mbigili 2 km away from the Dar es Salaam Highway) is run by a German-Tanzanian NGO and offers a nice round Guesthouse in traditional style with 2 double rooms for a small donation - very lovely, an ideal spot for hikes through the surrounding area or visits in the very beautiful Ruaha National Park, 100 km away. Trips can be organised by the helpful staff. The food there is awesome and the kids are also always very happy to see new playmates! Bookings through [email protected] or facebook: Amani Orphans Home Mbigili.
- Rent a bicycle at the market for 4000 TZS/day and ride to see the colonial buildings at Tosamaganga and visit the museum at Kalenga.
- Sokoni Market - one of the best markets in Tanzania for fresh fruits and vegetables. You can find most seasonal produce on offer as well as some hard to find items such as green beans or cauliflower.
- Masai Market – The market has been relocated along the Main street across from Iringa Net internet cafe. All manner of beaded things, katenge bags, herbal medicines, tinga tinga paintings and wood carvings are available. You will also get lots of souvenir traders bothering you outside of Hasty Tasty & Neema Crafts – They are selling cards, carved wood items, and musical instruments.
- Matumaini Women's Centre - sells a range of products to support their work with young unmarried mothers and their children. Their products (such as bags, aprons and toys) are made by graduates from the Centre, all are made with love and some things can't be gotten anywhere else. They are also happy to make things such as blankets to your specifications and the prices are comparably cheaper than elsewhere. Ask for the Mamas to show you their workshop and see what fantastic work your shillings are supporting.
- Neema Crafts is a great project. The workshop employs deaf and disabled people who produce elephant dung paper products (cards, albums, etc), beaded bits and bobs (bracelets, earrings, flip flops) including stuff from their beads they make from recycling glass bottles (ask to go and see their cool mud kiln), cushions, vitenge patchwork blankets, lamps and lamp shades, and more recently have employed disabled folks who are weaving rugs, hammocks, and various other interesting textiles. Their most recent projects are micro solar panels for lighting, radios and charging phones, very useful if you are camping, and a physiotherapy unit for disabled children. You can help the physiotherapy unit by having a fantastic half hour long massage for 30,000/= from their bubbly physio Chipe and you can lie there and relax in your pampering knowing the money you are paying is going to allow more disabled children to get treated for free! Along with the obvious benefits of providing employment to people that Tanzanian society has rejected, the products are excellent and make great presents! Haruna, a hilarious character, will be happy to give you a guided tour, and they have a café selling proper coffee and home made cakes, ice cream and sorbets if that tickles your fancy; Their panini Bacon and avocado sandwiches and the carrot cake draw expat volunteers from all over the south of Tanzania who also stock up on their reading materials at the book exchange in the cafe. Also they are the centre for a great project to bring safe drinking water to rural villages using the sun, (SODIS.ch) so drop off any empty 1 1/2 liter drinking water bottles you may have and they can make use of them.
There are dozens of shops selling vitenge and kanga. The best are located around the Dala Dala stand near the market and down “Indian” street. Expect to pay 8,000/= for kanga and 25.000/= for vitenge. Real Wax vitenge comes in at about 35,000/= if you are a purist. Always demand a punguza for multiple purchases though they are tough negotiators but don't worry too much about going as low as you can as these guys are the middle men not the producers whatever they may claim!
In the corner of the main market you’ll find the basket market - several stalls selling straw mats, baskets, kitchen bits and pieces. The hand woven baskets are a signature of Iringa and well worth getting for keeping your mchele and maharage in. Currently you will pay 20,000/= for four medium sized baskets – an absolute bargain for the Iringa style they will bring to your bare, soulless volunteer accommodation.
For postcards try the post office for the usual Tanzanian variety, or try Neema Crafts. They have their own postcards, cheaper than the post office and much more local. They sell stamps there as well and have a post box outside.
For food based retail therapy, take a walk to Premji’s and/or Raju’s on “Indian” street, two mini-supermarkets heavily stocked with wazungu luxuries; wine, Marmite, Coco Pops, Olives, etc. Not what you would describe as cheap but when you are desperately in need of a yeast extract based hit, beggars can’t be choosers. (also Neema Crafts does take away giant chocolate chip cookies and fudge, which are great when you need a lift).
If you are in need of good quality wines and bites, such as cheese, sandwich meats, sausages and bacon or even want a good cuts of meat (sirloin, T-bone, pork and lamb chops, ribs etc) 32 kms out of iringa on the main high way inside the Sembe Tofauti Mills, Visit the Cordon Bleu shop. Excellent South African Wines. Slightly Expensive but worth it. Almost Forgot. They have Amazing Biltong's.
The Consollata Fathers and Sisters live on two sites up in the Gangilonga suburb. The fathers sell their own cheese (well, that of their cows…) including mozzarella (amazing), the sisters sell excellent homemade pasta, great pasta sauce and various pork products which are from pigs they have raised themselves.
- Neema Crafts A great restaurant in a great centre. Good food, large portions at a good price. Amazing coffee and cakes. European and Tanzanian dishes to suit all tastes. All the staff are deaf which adds a twist to ordering and the service is great. Games available, a great kids corner and play house, sofas, book exchange for your holiday reading and a useful library of development literature for those who have an interest in this area. Voted the Best restaurant in the world by the Uk telegraph newspaper in 2010! not bad for iringa! Often stage evening events, concerts etc, keep your eyes open for these, always great fun.
- Mama Iringa Located a bit far from town center in the Don Bosco area, it is worth the taxi fare of approx 6000 TSH from posta. It is well signed along the road to Mkwawa Univeristy. Offering a range of Italian food, drinks and desserts, it is a popular getaway for local ex-pats.
- The Haven is located in Ggangilonga, not far from Gentle Hills hotel. They have a limited menu which includes burgers and pizza. It is a somewhat popular place to eat as it is quiet and private.
- Saivilla Sai Villa. located in Gangilonga, It is Indian run and offers authentic Indian food along with a variety of other dishes. Its on the expensive side with many main courses ranging around 15,000 sh. You can find it off Kawawa Street about 500m east of the Lutheran Center, you will see a path way to your right, leading to a white gate.
- Hasty Tasty Too. Run by Shaffin and his mum, who will happily stand in for your own mother if you are in need. You usually find a lot of wazungu in Hasty, it is next to the SPW (Student Partnerships Worldwide) office. Specialities are the chick pea curry (kali sana please), rolled chappatis, samosas (veg or beef), egg and meat chops, fruit juice and milkshakes… If you have something special to celebrate, get Shaffin to make you a cake… awesome artistry a bit dry at times. They also do a mean cooked breakfast if you are suffering after a heavy night in one of the drinking establishments. MTV (proper MTV and not the rubbish Hip Hop version) plays on the TV alongside BBC News 24… nice! If you are having a bad day, Shaffin is arguably the best person in Iringa to go to for a comforting hug.
- Rivervalley CampsiteOut of town on the way to Dar Es Salaam you will find a great campsite next to the Little Ruaha River. Serving a Western/Tanzanian blend of locally sourced food and open to bookings for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner. Booking recommended +255 787 111 663. Day visitors are also welcome to bring picnics and enjoy the woodland and hills next to the river.
- Miami Sports Bar Located just past the Samora roundabout, they offer traditional Nyama Choma (BBQ'd beef, chicken & goat) which is reasonable priced. They have a nice VIP room upstairs which is good for a quiet drink or just chatting with your friends.
- Shooters which was known as "bottoms up", is under new management and has a new decor and similar stuff to what the previous owner had. It has a restaurant and also serves food in the bar… Barbecue there is great and the egg biryani is a favorite. Reasonably expensive but great if you are already holed up there for the drink or football (or both) especially as the food can take several hours to arrive if you are in a large group or its very crowded! Indian, Chinese and Western dishes served alongside Tanzanian food.
- Greek Club Iringa, Lumumba Street, Gangilonga, Iringa. Greek cuisine is offered however the prices are the highest in Iringa. Be prepared to pay double for coffee than any other place in town. Playground facilities and garden. edit
- Luxury Bar. The place to go for watching football. It is impossible to describe the atmosphere. Anything up to 500 avid Tanzanian fans crowd into the bar, theater style watching three small TVs in cages. Be prepared for very un-Tanzanian displays of emotion and deafening verbal abuse aimed towards everyone's friend Jose Mourinho. On weekends they have a reasonable live band.
- Shooters. A great meeting point and the night time social hub. Has sports channels, a pool table and plays fairly loud hiphop/rap/..... Clientèle is a mixture of Tanzanians, SPW volunteers (watch out for the smell of the villages), depressed VSO and Peace Corps volunteers (watch out for boring life stories), and assorted vipepeo (as per SPW volunteers).
- Club La Party. Has a similar vibe to Shooters but has a lot less SPW volunteers and is a little more Tanzanian. It also has a pool table and sometimes has live music. You may find a cover charge of 5,000/= at the weekend if they are opening late and have a disco. Food a bit of a risk and service very slow.
- Miami Sports Bar. Classic Tanzanian bar. The place to go for a little Tanzanian “culture” and Nyama Choma
- Ruco Hostel. Close to Hasty Tasty and offers clean, en-suite rooms varying in price depending on facilities. The facility offers rooms starting at 25,000 TSH and is located on the main road to Dodoma. Basic but clean with security. However you must be inside the hostel by 11 pm as the gates are locked at that time.
- Neema Crafts. Has a guest house along with the cafe and workshops, also run by disabled people. Their rates are a bit on the expensive side, but the rooms are cleaned daily, they are large and each has a bathroom with a heated shower. All rooms include a breakfast in the cafe. WiFi access codes can be purchased from the cafe. Turn off the main road at the clock tower roundabout just past the post office. The church next door occasionally holds all-nighter ceremonies complete with loud music - this may cost you your night's sleep. All rooms are non-drinking and non-smoking.
- Wazo Lodge. just 2.5 KM from Town along Mkwawa road, two streets opposite Mkwawa University college, an ideal place for those looking for a peaceful place out of the busy town life, A bed and Breakfast facility at the price of 24,000/=, Good Self Contained rooms with TV, dinner can only be provided if ordered before hand. a customer hot line +255755338033 is available for those that need to book their place before hitting town.
- Lutheran Centre. Down the hill from Neema crafts, just been refurbished and reopened, much above the old style backpackers haunt, now one of the most comfortable places to stay in Iringa (not that Iringa is well endowed with top class accommodation but this will serve even the fussiest traveller). Starts at 25,000tsh a night for a single room. Meals must be pre-ordered.
- Staff Inn There are two Staff Inns. One is next to the busstation, called white house, another on the main road, called annex. Both of them offer similar kind of rooms, from usd 20 to 28. Annex has strange odour and restaurant is just average.
- Embalasasa Motel On main road, near bus station has modern rooms with tv and bathroom, usd 30 - 35. they close their door at 21.00. After that you may be in trouble to get in, even you are the guest!
- Riverside Campsite . Out of town on the way to Dar Es Salaam you will find a great campsite next to the Little Ruaha River. With Ensuite Banda and Tented Banada accommodation and serving a Western/Tanzanian blend of food. Booking recommended +255 787 111 663. Day visitors are also welcome to bring picnics and enjoy the woodland and hills next to the river.
- Ruaha Executive Lodge. Across the street from Hasty Tasty and Jacaranda. Offers clean, en-suite rooms with hot water for 30-40,000/=. basic breakfast is included but dinner must be ordered ahead of time.
- Amani Orphanage in Mbigili The Amani Orphanage in Mbigili (around 25 km from Iringa, located in Mbigili 2 km away from the Dar es Salaam Highway) is run by a German-Tanzanian NGO and offers a nice round Guesthouse in traditional style with 2 double rooms for a small donation - very lovely, an ideal spot for hikes through the surrounding area or visits in the very beautiful Ruaha National Park, 100 km away. Trips can be organised by the helpful staff. The food there is awesome and the kids are also always very happy to see new playmates! Bookings through Ingo Lenz or Amani Orphans Home Mbigili on Facebook.
- Doctors with Africa CUAMM Guest Hose, Tosamaganga village (14 km from Iringa town, along the road to the Ruaha National Park), ([email protected]). Non Governamental Organization Doctors with Africa CUAMM (60 years of sanitarian development projects in different countries in Africa, in Tanzania since the '70s) offers accomodation in a really comfortable mixed italian-african style guest house. Staying here you also support their projects. edit
- Old Ambassador Along uhuru avanue Road near to baclays bank, right side in uhuru street opposite the +255 pub.has a guest house along with the resteraunt.they have a big rooms,double and single ,all are cheapest price!they are large and each has bathroom with a heated shower.all rooms include the breakfast.ask about GODLUCK AND GASPER. TEL:+255(0)755 214 428.EMAIL:[email protected]
- The Alizeti Hostel, (Hidden away on a dirt road near The Haven), ☎ +255 742 346 686, . Converted house, one of the cheapest places in Iringa. Breakfast is not included, but guests are free to use the kitchen, and both Neema Crafts and The Haven offer food close by. Free WiFi and hot showers included. 10,000tsh for a dorm bed, 20,000tsh for a private double. edit
CRDB has a branch near the market and provides all the usual money exchange services. It also has an ATM, in case you get desperate. Useful to note is that they are open until 1pm on Saturdays. In Iringa, there are also branches of NMB (across the street from Jacaranda) and NBC.
NMB has an ATM at its branch. It also has an ATM in the town center. However, CRDB and NBC take only VISA cards. A Barclays has opened but has a bit of an unreliable cash machine at the moment and they only change foreign currency if you are an account holder.
Nowhere takes travellers cheques.
Neema Crafts is taking credit cards in their shop and if you ask you can pay for the fabulous restaurant as well by card.
They sell postcards and stamps and have a postbox by the front door. You can find cards a bit different from the standard Tz wide fare here as well.
Immigration has an office in CRDB - bank building.
There is a very good language school in Iringa mainly based at Riverside campsite. The SIL Bible translators use it which is a pretty good recommendation for it's quality.
If you are coming to Iringa for a while there is a very good international school (Iringa International School) which mainly has expat teachers and runs the IB primary years programme, IGCSE and A-level. It is a very well run pleasant school with great kids and has some of the best exam results in Tanzania. It also has excellent boarding facilities for families based further out of town.
There are many internet cafés in Iringa. The best of these is at Neema Crafts Centre, probably the fastest in town (they use the new high speed TTCL connection), turning off the main road at the clock tower roundabout past the post office. They have fast internet and also unlike the other cafes are virus free as they run on open source software (don't worry, you can use and access all your normal documents etc there). They also have WiFi in their restaurant which is fast and it is a great place to sit and relax with your laptop. The only problem is they only have 10 computers at the moment but are hooking another up for use as a skype computer in a private booth, but if you have to wait, the chocolate cake and coffee is great!
Another well known internet place is IringaNet,it is at the top end of town. It will cost you 1,000/= per hour, though you can bulk buy and get a small discount. Another option is to take your own wireless enabled laptop and, for the same price, use their wireless hotspot. The connections used to be considered quite quick for Tanzania, but they now lag behind the internet cafes using the new high speed fibre optic cables from TTCL, the main phone company.
The internet cafe by the post office is also half decent but can be a bit slow and is riddled with viruses so don't plug in your memory stick or camera.
there are several other smaller places around which are much of a muchness. Prices are the same everywhere, 500 for half an hour and 1000 for an hour with Wifi rates a bit higher.
Iringa is a good starting point for a visit to Ruaha National Park or Udzungwa Mountain National Park. Transport and accommodation arrangements can be made through several Tour companies with offices in Iringa Town. You are looking at around $200.00 per day to hire a 4x4 to get there and drive round the park -- this includes a driver and the cost of the fuel.
Neema Crafts is a good spot to pick up info on independent smaller operators and also local tourist gems such as guided historical/cultural walks. It is advised that prior to booking a safari, you should ask to see their TALA (which is the government license for tour operators) as well as check vehicle condition & whether they have a spare car in case of breakdown.
The choices of good 'luxury' buses have increased recently to & from Iringa. There are very early morning departures at 6:00 & 6:30 am which will get you to Dar around 2-2:30 pm before the worst of the traffic jams start. Fares range from 18,000 to 24,000 TSH which companies such as Chaula, Deluxe Tours, Sumry, OTA, New Force and JM Luxury Coaches to name a few offering daily routes to Dar & Mbeya. As well, buses are departing Dar from 6:00 am to 11:00 am arriving between 3 and 7 pm. Be sure to ask your conductor whether the bus comes up to Iringa town or stops at the bus stand down in Ipolgolo (which will require a taxi fare of 5000 TSH to come up to Iringa Town)
Heading in the other direction Chaula & JM Luxury Coaches buses run the best service towards Mbeya, with 2 buses leaving every morning
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