Tanzania Southern Highlands
The remote southern highlands – little – known treasures and alien artifacts
Many travelers pass through the Southern Highlands on their way to Zambia or Malawi while few give a second thought to stopping along the way. A pity because this region offers numerous attractions, roads are good, the people friendly and facilities are generally of a high standard.
Lake Nyasa and Matema – where three countries meet
Africa’s third-largest body of water, Lake Nyasa is 550 km long and 75 km wide at is widest point. Its shores border three countries Tanzania, Malawi and Mozambique. Set against the stunning backdrop of the Livingstone Mountains, the Tanzanian shores are not short on interest, including Matema and its fabulous beach.
Quiet and attractive, Matema is a small town that caters to visitors wishing to experience an unpretentious local culture. Tourist Infrastructure is limited, but excursions are available onto the lake or down the coast while the nearby waterfalls and caves are a delight. You can spend the day engaged in any number of activities, or simply sunbathe on the beach in the year-round worm sunshine.
The Mbozi Meteorite – visitor from outer space
A must for visitors with time for exploration is the Mbozi Meteorite. Seldom seen by travelers, it was only discovered by outsiders in 1930, despite the fact that it had been known to locals for centuries. Seemingly its existence had never been reported because of taboos surrounding its origin and purpose. However, there is nothing in local legend to indicate the real origins of the meteorite, which is thought to pre-date the existing culture by probably several thousand years.
The meteorite itself is some 3m long and 1m high, and is now elevated on a plinth that denotes its national artifact status.
Mbeya and the mountains
Just this side of the Zambian border is the town of Mbeya. Formerly a gold rush town, Mbeya is today the region’s commercial and administrative centre. Around the town there’s some good hiking and hill-walking to be had in he verdant Mbeya range. For a fun day trip, take a dalla dalla to Mbalizi junction, where you’ll find the start of the hiking trail to the Mbeya Peak, at 2,818 m the highest peak in the range. Also of interest is the remote Lake Rukwa, a real ‘out in the middle of nowhere’ paradise that can only be accessed with a 4WD. Mbeya has a new airport that provides air links with Dar es Salaam, Kilimanjaro, Mwanza and Dodoma towns.
Kitulo Plateau – a botanist’s delight
Situated between the Livingstone and Uporoto ranges, the high Kitulo Plateau is a unique experience of endemic plant life for lovers of nature and botany. This combined with the breathtaking scenery of the Livingstone Mountains backdrops has earned it the local name of ‘Bustani ya Mungu,’ which literally means God’s Garden. Soon to be named a National Park, Kitulo is one of the greatest floral spectacles in the world, and a must in any Southern Highlands itinerary.