The Pare Mountains are known for their biodiversity, and are recognized as one of 24 globally important forest biodiversity “hot spots” (Conservation International). The North Pare contains a number of forest reserves – the most significant are Kindoroko and Minja Forest – which total some 7,407 ha, and are home to countless animal and plant life (Eastern Arc Mountains Conservation Endowment Fund (www.easternarc.or.tz). It is a perfect area for independent travelers who would like to get to know some real Tanzanian life. Unlike the Usambara Mountains around Lushoto, which is heavily promoted by Lonely Planet and other guidebooks, the area sees hardly any visitors and gives you a great chance to learn about local customs and culture.
Pare Mountains Culture & History
A walk through an area rife of traditional African fruits and vegetables is not only a sensual, but also a culinary pleasure! The Pare Mountains are well known for their cultivation of premium export crops, particularly sisal, tea and coffee. The Pare people are mainly farmers cultivating plots of vegetables, maize, bananas, cassava and cardamom.
It is a unique experience to walk through Usangi and listen to the different myths of the past. For example, the Pare believe that deceased persons possess great powers and that’s why they have many complex rituals to honor the dead. Visiting the area in which the skulls of tribal Pare chiefs are kept, who died in tribal and colonial wars, can be a breathtaking experience.
The Pare Mountains are reached via the town of Mwanga, which is located along the main road B1 from Moshi to Dar es Salaam. From Mwanga, a good sand road winds upward to Usangi (25km). In Usangi you can stay in the cozy, sweet and well-equipped Mhako Hostel.
All together, to discover the green and beautiful landscapes of the Pare Mountains and to listen to the traditional beliefs and legends of the Pare people is a unique chance to get off the beaten path that will broaden your horizon on Tanzania and its people.