The Usambara Mountains are a beautiful series of mountain ranges between Moshi (Mount Kilimanjaro region) and Tanga region in the east.
The range is approximately 70 miles long and ranges 20-40 miles in width and is typically divided into West Usambara and East Usambara.
Mountains in the range rise as high as 8,000 feet.
They are home to an unspoiled tropical forest that is rare in East Africa and of great ecological interest. The valuable ecology of the Usambara is seeking increasing protection by conservation organizations and some donor countries like Norway.
The tropical forests are home to endemic bird species including the Naduk eagle owl (Bubo vosseleri), the Usambara Akalat (Sheppardia montana), Amani sunbird, green-headed oriole, southern banded snake eagle and the Usambara weaver (Ploceus nicolli).
Forest species that are endemic to the Usambara Mountains include the tree Calodendrum eickii.
In addition to learning about the conservation needs of this mountain range and doing some spectacular birding, there are ample opportunities for hiking with stunning viewpoints over the forested mountains.
The surrounding region was among the first to be settled in East Africa in 1902 by European farmers, especially German farmers. The nearby town of Amani was a popular German resort for many years in colonial times. Much of the mountain areas are used in the production of coffee, sisal, tea and some species of rice grown in the swampy foothills. The East Usambara Mountains are home to over 30 species of reptiles found nowhere else, 50 tree species and is home to the largest number of species of African Violets.
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