Nestled at the base of Loleza Peak, Mbeya is a lively urban hub in south-west Tanzania near the borders with Malawi and Zambia. It’s a great base for visiting majestic Lake Ngozi and Kitulo Plateau National Park, a protected area that’s renowned for both its flora and fauna.
Things to do in Mbeya
For sweeping views across Mbeya, join a half-day guided hike to the 2,656-metre-high Loleza Peak, which rises to the north of the city. On return to the centre, you can feast on barbecued chicken and nyama choma (grilled goat) at one of the traditional restaurants or shop for locally-made souvenirs at African Movement Art and Crafts.
Birdwatchers shouldn’t miss a visit to Lake Ngozi, an immense crater lake that’s one of the largest in Africa. It’s a challenging trek to the crater rim through a forest inhabited by noisy monkeys, chameleons and a diversity of native bird species. After a steep ascent, you’ll be rewarded with stunning views across Lake Ngozi’s emerald-green waters and tumbling cascades.
Continue driving east to Kitulo Plateau National Park, a spectacular tract of montane grassland and forest that was established primarily to protect its flora. It’s home to around 350 species of plants that include several rare orchids and Afroalpine specialists. On the south-west-facing slope of the park lies the Livingstone forest, where you can spot endangered highland mangabeys, Rungwe dwarf galagos and Abbott's duikers.
Getting around Mbeya
Mbeya Airport is 35 minutes’ drive from the city centre and has flights to destinations across Tanzania while regular trains connect from the Mbeya railway station to Dar es Salaam. Coaches and dalla-dalla minibuses run to and from the Malawian and Zambian borders. Mbeya is compact enough to explore on foot and taxis are readily available.