Vacations to Iringa, Tanzania
Overlooking the valley of the Little Ruaha River, Iringa was established as a defensive base for Germans against the local Hehe people in the 1890s. It's a popular stop-off for visitors to Tanzania's largest national park, Ruaha National Park, but it's also a great destination in its own right. Due to its hillside location, you'll enjoy a pleasant climate whenever you visit, and great views. One of the best viewpoints is Gangilonga Rock, where members of the Hehe would keep watch on the Germans.
Fifteen kilometers from Iringa on the road to Ruaha National Park, you'll come across Kalenga Historical Museum, which brings to life Tanzanian history, and includes a chance to see the skull of Chief Mkwawa of the Hehe people and the ruins of his fort.
However, historical artefacts in the area of Iringa date back much further. Fifteen kilometers from town heading towards Mafinga, Isimila Stone Age site features ancient tools uncovered in the 1950s, including hammerstones, axeheads, flints and scrapers, estimated to date back between 60,000 and 100,000 years ago. On the edge of Iringa, west of Dodoma Road, Igleke Rock Art features ochre drawings depicting human figures, an elephant and giraffe.
If all this exploring leaves you hungry and tired, Neema Crafts Centre is a great place to recharge, offering excellent cake and coffee. There's also a tour of the workshops to look at a variety of crafts, including paper made from elephant dung. If you're looking for mementos of your visit, the covered market stalls feature locally made baskets, among other items, with lots of fruit and veg available too.
Despite Iringa's diminutive status, there's plenty of cuisine from other countries, including Italian and Indian restaurants, as well as local menus to choose between. And you'll need a full stomach if you're planning on going on safari at Ruaha National Park. The largest park in Tanzania, Ruaha is a two-hour drive from the city along the 'Neverending' Road. The drive is well worth the wait, however, as the park's remote location makes it an ideal place to see big cats, elephants and buffalo.
Enjoy stunning views from Gangilonga Rock
Learn about ancient tools at Isimila Stone Age site
Discover local history at Kalenga Historical Museum
See big cats and elephants at Ruaha National Park