Cities & Towns in Southern Highland Circuit

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Mbeya

Size & Population:

southern circuit

Mbeya city is located in southwest of Tanzania with a population of 385,279 people according to 2012 Census. Mbeya city is the capital of Mbeya region with a total population of 2,707,410 people.

When travelling from Zambia, one of neighbouring country, Mbeya is the first large urban settlement to encounter. Mbeya is situated at an altitude of 1,700 meters above the sea level, and sprawls through a narrow highland valley surrounded by a bowl of high mountains.

Brief Information:

Mbeya was founded as a gold mining town in 1920s following the 1905 gold rush. The city which attracted a British administration until 1961 had also attracted migrants and small entrepreneurs and later developed into a growing metropolis and business centre for the southern regions and the neighbouring countries of Malawi, Zambia and Congo.

Mbeya City is well connected with an all-weather [tarmac] road that forms part of the “Great North Road” running from Cape Town in South Africa to Alexandria in Egypt.

The main ethnic groups in the city are the Safwa, Malila and Nyakyusa. Others are Sangu, Bena and Wanji and small ethnic groups to include the Masai and Sukuma. Most of these ethnic groups are predominantly agro – pastoralists.

Popular attractions:

Mbeya city belongs to the tourism circuit which commands several attractions including extension of Ruaha National Park, Usangu and Lukwati Game reserves, mountains, Sandy beaches on Lake Nyasa shores, the Rift Valley Plains, unique ecological features of rain forests, historical features as well as cultural tourism.

In addition there are open areas with a good number of wildlife like Piti, kipembawe, Kwimba in Chunya and Usangu open areas in Mbarali district. With the establishment of Kitulo National Park and Mpanga/Kipengere Game reserve famous for its unique birds and flowers, the Region attracts massive number of tourists.

There are several game animals like buffaloes, london, elephants, lions, reedbuck, roan antelope, hartebeest, crocodiles, leopard, zebras, waterbucks, greater kudu, jackals, impalas, hippos and various types of birds. The most popular tourist attractions includes:-

  • Ruaha-Usangu National Park within Mbeya and Iringa, with a large number of flora and fauna
  • The unique ecological features of the tropical rain forest.
  • The wildlife in the Lukwati Game Reserves in Chunya district.
  • Mpanga – Kipengele Game Reserve in Mbarali district.
  • Protected variety of Game stock and wild animals such as rare monkey species known as Rungwecebus kipunji.
  • The Rift Valley – Usangu plains.
  • The warmth of Lake Nyasa and Rukwa.
  • Sandy beaches of lake Nyasa.
  • A unique Ngosi Crater Lake, located on top of Rungwe rainforests and other crater lakes of Masoko and Kisiba in the Rungwe District.
  • Ihefu wetland systems in Ruaha river basin which can be toured by flying boats.
  • Natural bridge formed on Kiwira river in Rungwe District
  • Meteorite site in Mbozi “Kimondo cha Mbozi”. This is a rare and spectacular sight and is the eighth largest meteorite in the world, weighing about 12 tonnes.
  • Museums, Monuments and Heritage.

Getting there:

BY AIR

Mbeya city in southern regions has a new airport since 2006 that provides air-links with other airports such as Dar es Salaam, Kilimanjaro, Mwanza and Dodoma.

BY BUS

Transportation in Mbeya is frequent and there are regular bus services from and to Iringa, Morogoro, Dar es Salam, Dodoma, Arusha, Moshi and Songea and to many other regions countrywide.