“Everyone wants to live on the top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you’re climbing it.”
– Andy Rooney
Nestled in the great lakes region of Africa, Tanzania is a natural wonderland and home to Africa’s highest peak, Mount Kilimanjaro. Its nineteen national parks cover an astounding 42,000 km2 and are home to some of the world’s richest mountain habitats. Rich in fauna and flora, visitors are spoiled with lush forests, green plains, and towering volcanoes.
Amidst all this jaw-dropping beauty are famous hiking climbs such as Mount Meru, Ol Doinyo Lengai, Mahale Mountains, and Mount Kilimanjaro. Tanzania is full of rocks and home to mainly many undeveloped crags with good quality rock – mostly granite and basalt – and great potential for spectacular sport and trad climbing.
“Must-try” Locations For Rock Climbing In Tanzania
Iringa Backyard Boulders
In the area of Ilula, the Republic of Tanzania, there is a unique bunch of unforgettable boulders that will test even the most seasoned climber’s nerves while adorning them with views of the earth’s remaining Garden of Eden. The following 5 climbs have grades that should wet any climber’s thirst:
- Jan’O – 7A+
- Train Havana – 6C
- Nirvana itii – 6B+
- Thomas in Bush – 6A
- Sharkseal pup – 6A
Mwanza is a city in north-western Tanzania, close to the borders of Zambia and Kenya. It is one of Tanzania’s major ports on the southern shore of Lake Victoria, the largest lake in Africa. Mwanza has an abundance of rock formations from which climbers can enjoy being at one with nature as they ascend majestic mounds.
Jeremy Jennings describes Mwanza as the “most featureless egg-shaped granite boulders. The holds that are there are crimps and cracks. Perhaps the potential for some really hard stuff?”
Mwanza hosts a remarkable climb that brings a sense of childhood innocence to the bay for movie buffs and climbers alike. Mwanza’s climbing opportunities aspire to become one day a real bouldering paradise. Among the most popular climbing area is the stony beach of Lake Victoria and a smaller hillside near Mwanza town with several lines on some beautiful rock formations. Lake Victoria provides a lot of very solid-looking boulders that have a good landing, but no rock features yet defined.
The Usambara Mountains of northeastern Tanzania reside in tropical East Africa, which comprises the easternmost ranges of the Eastern Arc Mountains. This range has been immortalized by consideration in the Tentative World Heritage Site. The range is approximately 90 kilometers (56 mi) long. About half of that width is situated in the Lushoto District of the Tanga Region, formed nearly two million years ago by faulting and uplifting. 1900 meters high up is a cliff that supports Mambo View Point Eco Lodge. It showcases a breathtaking view over the African plains in the northern part of the Usambara mountains. In this little paradise, there is the village of Mambo, where the residents still live without running water or electricity.
Most of the climb is composed of Precambrian metamorphic rocks. Split into two sub-ranges – the West Usambaras and the East Usambaras – which are nearer the coast and receive more rainfall causing a more tropical climate
WILOROCK Mountain Range is a stunning landscape with towering rock formations and winding paths that wind through deep valleys. The Wilorock Mountain Range is located in the Western Arusha Region of Tanzania . It belongs to the Kilimanjaro National Park. Within this park there are several other mountain ranges, plains, and forests. Wilorock’s highest peak is Olmotonyi (3432 m above sea level). The average temperature in the valley is 20 degrees Celsius.
Wilorock climb peaks at 22 meters. It’s a 6A challenge with a total test overhang. There are no bolts but suitable places for a top rope anchor above. There is a fantastic route for sports climbing enthusiasts if an adventurous personality would be interested in bolting it. The views from atop the mountain range are breath-taking and well worth any physical exertion it takes to get there!
Other places for rock climbing in Tanzania:
Mount Meru: For experienced multi-pitch rock climbers looking to ascend Africa’s second-highest peak;
Arusha National Park: For sport and traditional climbing on overhanging sandstone walls;
Mambare River Campsite (only accessible if you are living in Mto wa Mbu Town): Single pitch routes that provide excellent views of Lake Manyara and the open savannah beyond;
Ras Kutani – Tanga Region, Pangani District: For sport climbing on granite at an old Arab settlement.
Tanzania Visa Application Information
Travelers who plan to visit Tanzania and try its climbing opportunities should know that since 2018 it is possible to submit a Tanzanian visa application entirely online. The online application has facilitated the whole visa procedure that used to be a long and complex process. Now, there is no need to face excessive paperwork or waste precious time waiting in Embassy never-ending lines.
With e-Visa to Tanzania, its holder can enter the country and stay up to 1 month for 99 Euro. Citizens of the U.S. are exceptional since there is a special visa type dedicated only for Americans. This visa is issued as a multiple-entry authorization and U.S. nationals can plan even a 3-month stay in Tanzania. Its cost is 149 Euro.
Conquering the unknown is a rock climber’s destiny. The beauty of Tanzania’s undeveloped rock climbing opportunities is what makes it such a savory spot on the map for climbers. The joys of climbing are not always about the challenge of daring to stare the cliff in the face. The journey and the people we meet is an experience we long for. Airport to the airport, shuffling to new destinations, meeting the locals, then tackling each challenge, hold by hold, reclining to a view only the brave could dream of. Tanzania offers low-budget travel and accommodation, welcoming locals. The scenery is made for high-budget 3D avatar film sets, and some of the best mountains to be conquered on earth.