Iringa Region Guide – Tanzania
Iringa region in Tanzania with a population of 112,900 (as of 2004). It is situated at a latitude of 7.77°S and longitude of 35.69°E. The name is derived from the Hehe word lilinga, meaning fort.
Iringa is the administrative capital of the Region. It has many established industries, including manufacturing and food processing. Most of its electricity comes from the nearby Mtera Dam. This region is a minor transport hub, with regular bus service and trucking to Dar es Salaam, Mbeya, Songea, and Dodoma.
This place is famous for its woven baskets, made from local reeds. The baskets are used across Tanzania and also exported internationally. The city is also well known for its award-winning Neema Crafts Centre
After their stunning defeat at Lugalo by the Hehe, led by Chief Mkwawa, the Germans built a military station at ‘Neu Iringa’ to avenge the death of their commander Emil Von Zelewski and to teach the Hehe respect for German authority.
The fortress and headquarters of Chief Mkwawa was in the nearby village of Kalenga. The town stretches along a hilltop overlooking the Ruaha River to the south, and spreads along ridges and valleys to the north.
The altitude of the town’s environs is more than 1,550 metres (5,090 ft) above sea level. The months of June, July, and August can see low temperatures near freezing.
The Tanzam Highway passes through the valley below the town; the highway distance from this place limits to Dar es Salaam is 502 kilometers (312 mi), via Morogoro. The Isimila Stone Age site, which lies about 20 km (12 mi) to the southwest, contains archeological artifacts, particularly stone tools, from human habitation about 70,000 years ago.
You can get to Iringa by bus from Dar, Dodoma, and Mbeya. There are many bus companies but some are dangerous. The best are Sumry, Sutco, and Hood (maligned by Lonely Planet but much improved in the past few years).
The road from Dar is being upgraded into a very decent road so once the roadworks have gone the ride will be very good. The journey itself passes through beautiful scenery and a national park.
Iringa is the perfect stop over point on the way down through the Southern Highlands or if you are off to visit Malawi and Zambia. If you are going back the other way towards Dar es-Salaam it is definitely a much nicer place to stop than Morogoro.
It would be all too easy to just see Iringa as a blur as you hurtle past in a Sutco coach sipping your complimentary soda, but is definitely worth breaking your journey for a day or so to take in the sights, sounds, and smells of this bustling little town.
It is also the gateway to the jewel in the crown of Tanzania’s game parks: Ruaha. Ask at Iringa Info opposite Hasty Tasty for top of the market tours or at Neema Crafts for the smaller companies to arrange your trip.
Get a bus or taxi to Tungamalenga village near the park gate and stay at Chogela campsite, where they can arrange a cheaper vehicle hire (this is the cheapest way to do the park). Ask at Neema Crafts for Chogella campsite details.
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