How to get to Mbeya City Town
Run from Dar es Salaam and Iringa several times a day, with a few, frequently delayed international services also available. Dalla-dallas (minibuses) and coasters (30-seat buses) run frequently to and from Kyela near the Malawian border and Tunduma on the Zambian border, either ride taking between two and three hours.
Train service consists of two Tazara Line “express” trains per week connecting Dar Es Salaam and Kapiri Mposhi (Zambia) via Mbeya, and one “regular” weekly service between Mbeya and Dar. The train station is located about 4km south of the city center.
An airport is under construction about 22km south of the city, with talks of international flights, which could make this town the base for excursions into little-visited western Tanzania. Its opening, however, has been indefinitely postponed. There is an airfield about 5km south of town for charter flights.
Travel to Malawi
The Malawi border is approx 60kms from Mbeya town. There are no scheduled bus services to the border and the Tazara train does not run to Malawi.
Sisi Kwa Sisi can provide you with a car and driver to take you directly to the Malawi border any day of the week.
Travel to Zambia
We can arrange a car and driver to take you to the Zambian border. Or we can book tickets for you on the Tazara train which leaves Mbeya for Kapiri Mposhi twice a week.
Travel to Mozambique
The Mozambique border is 180 kms from Mbeya. It is a long but rewarding journey. We can provide a car and driver for anyone wanting to travel on to Mozambique.
4 ways to go to Mbeya Region Tanzania
Difference between fly and go by a car is 149 km.
Mbeya - Town FAQ's
You will require a passport valid for at least six months after your date of entry. If you are arriving from a country in which Yellow Fever is endemic (such as Kenya), you will require an immunization certificate or health card.
Citizens of the UK, the US, Canada, Australia, and most countries in the EU, need a tourist visa to enter Tanzania. Application details and forms can be found on Tanzanian Embassy web sites.
As with all visa matters — contact your local Tanzanian Embassy for the latest information.
The official unit of currency is the Tanzanian shilling (TZS), divided into 100 cents. Notes are issued as TSh10,000; 5000; 1000; 500; 200 and 100. Coins are issued as TSh100; 50; 20; 10, 5 and 1.
The tourism industry prices everything in US Dollars and they are the preferred unit of currency. Major currencies can be exchanged in the larger towns. Foreign exchange bureaux in the main towns usually offer a better rate on traveller’s cheques than do the banks. ATMs are available in major cities only. Major lodges, some hotels and travel agents in urban areas accept credit cards, but these should not be relied on and can incur a 10% surcharge.
See www.oando.com for the latest exchange rates.
Purchasing your visa upon arrival is standard.
The tourist visa is valid for 90 days and the cost is $50 for foreigners, $100 for US citizens. That said, roughly 50 countries from around the world are exempt, including South Africa, India, Hong Kong, Singapore and Brazil. For the full list of exemptions, please go here.
For those in need of a visa, note that you’ll be given an entry form on the plane to fill in. When you land, an immigration officer will look over your passport and entry card, then ask about your accommodation and departure date, before sending you to the cashier’s window.
Once the cashier receives your passport and payment, you’ll be asked to wait in a designated area. After processing, they’ll call your name, return your passport (visa stamp in place), and provide you with a receipt. Your new tourist visa is good for one year, but you can only stay in the country for 90 days at a time.
There are no mandatory vaccinations for entering Tanzania. The only exception is proof of a yellow fever vaccination if you’re coming from a country with a known yellow fever epidemic.
That said, to ensure your health whilst travelling abroad you should have the following vaccinations: typhoid, TDP, varicella (unless you’ve had chicken pox), and Hepatitis A and B. If you’re an adventurous eater, you might want to add cholera to the list.
Tanzania is in a malaria zone, as shown in the map below. That said, malaria isn’t an issue in all parts of the country. But you might want to consider using anti-malaria medication. If so, please order enough to be able to continue taking them seven days after returning home.
All good accommodations where mosquitoes are an issue provide you with netting around your bed.
Finally, your doctor may recommend a rabies shot – a series of two doses over a four-week period – if you plan on caving or working with animals.
Insect repellent and sunscreen
Please bring enough insect repellent and sunscreen for the trip. You’re heading to a country just south of the Equator, and so it can get very hot. It’s not easy to find insect repellent and sunscreen in Tanzania and, when you do, they’re pricey.
Whilst on safari, you need to protect yourself from tsetse flies. These flies can transmit African trypanosomiasis, also known as sleeping sickness. It’s best to wear light-colour clothing; tsetse flies are attracted to dark colours, especially shades of blue. Unfortunately products containing DEET usually don’t discourage tsetse flies from biting, so try to find a natural insect repellent containing eucalyptus oil.
The three international airports in Tanzania are in Dar es Salaam, Arusha and Zanzibar. There are many other airports, as well as airstrips, that one can use for travel within Tanzania.
Julius Nyerere International Airport (DAR) in Dar es Salaam
This airport is on the east coast. It’s the biggest airport and you may need to fly here and then catch a connection to one of the smaller ones. This airport makes the most sense if you’re heading to west, central or southern Tanzania.
Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO) near Arusha
JRO is just outside of Arusha, the main city of northern Tanzania. This is the ideal airport if you’re heading on a Northern Circuit safari or a Kilimanjaro climb. As you can see in the map below, it’s very close to Moshi, the closest town to Kilimanjaro National Park.
JRO is also the closest major airport to the large game reserves of the north like Serengeti National Park. That said, Tanzania is a big country and it will take a day to drive from JRO to the Serengeti, for instance, especially as much of the drive is on dirt roads that require four-wheel drive. You might like to consider flying to one of the various airstrips across northern Tanzania to reduce travel times.
Zanzibar Abeid Amani Karume Airport (ZNZ) in Zanzibar
If you’re heading to the Zanzibar archipelago, then you want to fly into ZNZ on Unguja Island. If you’re heading to Zanzibar from elsewhere in Tanzania, then you could also use Pemba Airport (PMA) depending on your planned itinerary.
Zanzibar is famous for its beautiful, warm-water beaches, unique cultural history, beautiful game parks and wildlife, and water sports. We find that many like to fly there from Kilimanjaro International Airport after having completed a Kili climb in order to relax and unwind after their epic trek.
Fly into Kenya and drive south
Note that you could also choose to fly into Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO) in Nairobi, Kenya, and then drive southwards for 800 km to reach the Tanzania border. This works well for those wanting to visit both Kenya and Tanzania.
Note that if you’re going to visit more than one nation in the region, you’ll probably want to obtain an East African visa over just a Tanzanian visa.
|Distance: 830 km||Time: 12HR|
Mbeya Region in Tanzania
Mbeya is a city located in southwest Tanzania, Africa. Mbeya’s urban population was 280,000 in 2005. Mbeya is the capital of the surrounding rural Mbeya region (population, with Mbeya, totals approx. 2 million). Mbeya is the first large urban settlement encountered when traveling overland from the neighboring nation of Zambia. Mbeya is situated at an altitude of 1,700 meters (5,500 ft), and sprawls through a narrow highland valley surrounded by a bowl of high mountains. The main language is colloquial Swahili, and the English language is extensively taught in schools
Serengeti Trips Tanzania
Find all the transport options for your trip from Arusha to Ngorongoro Crater right here. We displays up to date schedules, route maps, journey times and estimated fares from relevant transport operators, ensuring you can make an informed decision about which option will suit you best.
Things to do in Mbeya
Ngozi Crater Lake is approx 38kms South of Mbeya towards Tukuyu. At around 2.5km long x 1.5km wide and up to 300m deep it is the second largest caldera lake in Africa. It is situated in the Mporoto Ridge Forest Reserve, which extends to about 9200 hectares and is overlooked by the 2600m high Ngozi Peak.
We drive to the edge of the forest and then walk for approx two hours through dense montane forest to the crater rim, around 200 metres above the lake.
Monkeys and many bird species can be seen in the forest which is also home to an endemic species of chameleon.
It is also said to be home to a giant serpent which lives deep in the caldera so have your cameras ready.
Around 75kms East of Mbeya you turn off the Tanzam Highway and take the dirt road to Matamba, gateway to the Kitulo National Park. Kitulo was the first area in East Africa to be given National Park status because of its flora. It reaches elevations of around 8,500 feet and is surrounded by the rugged peaks of the Kipengere, Poroto and Livingstone Mountains. It is one of the most important montane grassland areas in Tanzania.
December and April are the best time to view the Park’s botanical splendour when you will see orchids, yellow-orange red hot poker and a variety of aloes, proteas, geraniums, giant lobelias, lilies and aster daisies, many unique to this part of Tanzania
Big game is scarce but visitors interested in birdlife will not be disappointed.
The sunnier months of September to November are the best time for hiking but less rewarding for botanists. It is also possible to hike from the plateau, across the Livingstone Mountains and down to Matema Beach on the shores of Lake Nyssa.
A beautiful spot on Lake Malawi
Matema Beach is approx 130 kms from Mbeya on the Northern tip of Lake Malawi, overlooked by the Livingstone mountains. The road from Mbeya takes you through high mountains, small villages, banana plantations and tea estates.
This is the closest thing to a resort on the Tanzanian shore of the Lake but not one that gets over-run by tourists. There are several choices of good clean accommodation. You can hire dugout canoes or kayaks, explore Pango Cave and see the wildlife around the swampy Lufirio River Mouth to the West of the town. Hiking in the Livingstone Mountains. The region is well known for its distinctive Kisi pottery which is sold throughout the area.
Heading further South
For the more intrepid traveler we can head down the Eastern side of Lake Malawi towards the Mozambique border to the quiet area around the village of Mbamba Bay. We can take the slow overland route to get here or the ferry down from the North. For those heading further South, the ferry travels onwards to Nkhata Bay in Malawi.
We offer guided walks to the top of Mbeya Pea which is 2835m high. It usually takes about 3 hours to get to the summit.
Rungwe is an volcano which last erupted about a century ago and, at 2960m, is the highest peak in Southern Tanzania. It dominates the skyline around Tukuyu. It is a full day trip from Mbeya to reach the summit and back
A pleasant half day hike from Mbeya to the 2656m peak and back.
Quiet solitude in the African bush
Ruaha is several hours drive North from Mbeya but well worth the trip. It covers over 13,000 square kilometers and is Tanzania’s second largest park. The life-blood of the park is the Great Ruaha River which follows the eastern boundary of the park, whilst the seasonal Mwagusi River also provides excellent game viewing during the wetter months. The Park’s elephant population is reckoned to be around 10,000 – the largest of any East African National Park. Ruaha also supports healthy populations of water buffalo, zebra, kudu, hippo and crocodile, plus around 450 species of birds. Predators including leopard, cheetah, lion and hyena are commonly spotted on the open savannah. Few parks in African can combine such rich game viewing opportunities with the sense of peace and solitude that can be experienced in Ruaha.
Accommodation in Ruaha
There are a range of accommodation options in the park including a lodge, tented camps and less expensive campsites.
Mbeya (Songwe) Bat Caves
The bat caves are approximately 30kms from Mbeya and extend deep into the limestone rocks – bring a torch. Seasonal bat colonies, incorporating six different bat species can be seen streaming out of the cave at dusk. There are also several natural hot springs lower down the valley and several lime kilns dotted around the area.
Located 65 kms South East of Mbeya, towards the Zambian border. It is the seventh largest meteorite in the world and weight approx 15 tonnes.
Kiwira natural bridge and Kijungu waterfalls
The “Bridge of God” (Daraja la Mungu) is just outside the town of Tukuyu, South of Mbeya. Nearby is the Kijungu waterfall.
Other attractions include Kaporogwe falls, the World’s End viewpoint looking out across the Usungu Flats, Loleza Peak, the market village of Masoko. The quite wilderness areas around Lake Rukwa to the North (the largest lake to lie entirely within Tanzania’s borders) have large concentrations of hippo, crocodile and bird life.
Mbeya Travel Guide
Following the 1905 gold rush, Mbeya was founded as a gold mining town in the 1920s. The TAZARA railway later attracting farming migrants and small entrepreneurs to the area. Mbeya and its district was administered by the British until 1961. Mbeya Region was created in 1961. Mbeya City is now a growing metropolis and business centre for the southern regions and the neighboring countries of Malawi, Zambia and Congo. The City is well connected with an all-weather road that forms part of the “Great North Road” running from Cape Town to Alexandria. The City has several tribes including the Safwa, Nyakyusa and Nyiha, all being agricultural peoples. Mbeya also boasts as one of the regions that form the bread basket of Tanzania
Mbeya has weather with enough rainfall and fertile soil which enable it to be the largest producer of maize, rice, bananas, beans, potatoes (Irish & sweet), soya nuts and wheat in the entire country. Tanzania has a free market in agricultural produce, and Mbeya transports vast amounts of its maize to other areas of Tanzania. There is also extensive animal husbandry, with dairy cattle predominating. Mbeya is also the biggest producer of high-value export and cash crops in Tanzania; those crops are coffee (arabica), tea, cocoa, pyrethirum and spices. There is some smallholder cultivation of tobacco. Firewood is collected by women and girls, from the wooded valleys and mountainsides. Bamboo is naturally abundant in the forests, and there are plans to teach local people about this versatile plant and its many uses. Some gold is still mined in the rural Chunya District, by artisan miners.
Mbeya is considered to be heading the Southern Highlands Regions, that’s why there is a Mbeya Referral Hospital which serves the whole of the Southern Highlands regions. There are also a number of companies and statutory organizations with regional offices in Mbeya
One of the most beautiful places in Mbeya is Lake Nyasa which offers breathtaking scenery and pristine waters perfect for swimming or fishing. Another must-visit spot is Kitulo National Park also known as “The Garden of God” due to its vast array of wildflowers that bloom from December to April.
If you’re interested in cultural highlights and events, make sure to visit the local markets where you can find traditional crafts such as woven baskets or wooden carvings made by local artisans. Additionally, there are several festivals held throughout the year including Nane Nane Agricultural Fair (August), Kipepeo Festival (September) celebrating butterflies’ migration through Tanzania’s southern highlands.
Culinary specialties are abundant in Mbeya with dishes like ugali (maize porridge), nyama choma (grilled meat), pilau rice cooked with spices being some examples. You should try these delicacies while visiting one of the many restaurants serving authentic Tanzanian cuisine.
Outdoor activities are plentiful here too! Hiking enthusiasts will be thrilled to know about Mount Rungwe – one of Africa’s highest peaks – located just outside town offering spectacular views over surrounding valleys & lakes; it’s best climbed during dry seasons between June-August & December-March when weather conditions permit safe climbing without much rain risk.
Mbeya has plenty more cities worth exploring too: Chunya famous for coffee farming; Tukuyu known for tea plantations; Mbalizi home to numerous historical sites like colonial-era buildings dating back centuries ago!
In conclusion, whether you’re looking for adventure or relaxation, Mbeya has something for everyone. From its geographical location and special features to cultural highlights and events, culinary specialties, outdoor activities with the best seasons – this travel guide provides all the information you need to plan a memorable trip! So why not book your next holiday in Mbeya? You won’t regret it!
Maua Café & Tours
A brick homestead turned cafe serving big breakfasts, including granola and fresh coffee (Tsh 10,000); wraps, burgers and toasties for lunch (from Tsh5000); and pizza, fish and salads for dinner. Sit outside by the hibiscus bush on benches with bright fabric cushions. It has an excellent ethical craft shop and a small backyard campground (US$10), and owner Amelia organises a range of tours.
If you have your own transport, this spot, 20 km west of Mbeya, is the place to go for fine dining, with both a daily set menu and à la carte, and a bar. Speciality coffees (including to take home) are a feature. It also has a swimming pool and a pool table, meaning you can spend a good chunk of your day here.
If you’re missing Western culture, stop by this sleek place, stylishly hung with local fabrics, for smoothies, fresh juices, locally sourced gourmet coffees, great baking and other delicacies. It also sells a few crafts and Mbeya coffee beans. It’s a good place to connect with travellers and volunteers.
This popular hotel restaurant has a large menu featuring good Indian cuisine, including vegetarian selections and naan bread, plus Chinese and continental fare. Non-Indian meals tend to be on the heavy side (lots of extra oil), but portions are large and it remains one of the better dining options in the town centre.
This hotel restaurant serves a small selection of local-style dishes. It’s nothing special, but the food is decent, service is efficient and it offers a quiet place to sit in the town centre.
The distance between Dar es Salaam and Mbeya is 673 km. The road distance is 823.5 km. How do I travel from Dar es Salaam to Mbeya without a car? The best way to get from Dar es Salaam to Mbeya without a car is to bus which takes 14h 42m and costs $19 – $20.
Geography. Mbeya Region is located between latitudes 7 degrees and 9 degrees 31′ south of the equator and between longitudes 32 degrees and 35 degrees east of Greenwich in Tanzania’s Southern Highlands Zone.