CULTURAL TOURS PROGRAMS

MTO WA MBU CULTURAL TOUR PROGRAMME

Welcome to the green oasis of Mto wa Mbu, where you can see a mixture of different Tanzanian cultures, while enjoying the tropical vegetation at the foot of the Rift Valley.

THE INHABITANTS OF MTO WA MBU OFFER TO TOURIST:
--Walk through the farms in the green oasis at the foot of the Rift Valley
--A climb to Balaa hill from where you can oversee the whole town
--View into the culture of the many different tribes living in the area
--Trip to the Miwaleni lake and waterfall, where papyrus plants grow abundantly
--Visits to development projects that aim at improving agriculture and start income generating activities for the farmers
--Thorough explanation about the irrigation system that keeps the farms green

The profit will be used to promote energy-saving stoves: your visit helps to protect environment.

LOCATION
Mto wa Mbu is situated on the way from Arusha to the National Parks in Northern Tanzania, just at the foot of the Rift Valley. Mto wa Mbu is the entry port to Lake Manyara National Park; the park with the tree-climbing lions and many birds named after the long drawn lake that is fed by the water flowing down from the escarpment of the Rift Valley. It also conveniently on the way to Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti which makes it an ideal rest place for most safari travellers.

Introduction
The area around Mto wa Mbu was rather dry and hardly populated till the early fifties, when the first steps were made to irrigate the area. Within a few years hundreds of acres of newly cultivable land were created. The news of the fertile lands spread rapidly through the country and from all remote corners people came to try their luck. Fruits and vegetables from all over Tanzania were introduced in the area. Within a few decades the dry and empty plains were turned into a green semi-urban centre. The rapid population growth also turned Mto wa Mbu in a melting pot of cultures. Nowhere else in Tanzania have so many different tribes gathered in such a small area. Many people have still kept their traditions. The various traditional modes of production stand as an example of this cultural diversity. In the little town Chagga people are producing their banana beer, a farmer from Kigoma makes palm oil from palm trees that he brought from the shores of Lake Tanganyika, the Sandawe are making bow and arrow for hunting on smaller game and the Rangi are using the papyrus from the lakes and rivers for making the most beautiful mats and baskets. On the surrounding plains Maasai families live in traditional bomas and the warriors wander with their cattle looking for pasture and water.

TOUR PROGRAM
You can choose different tours that show you the scenic beauty and cultural diversity of Mto wa Mbu. Mto wa Mbu farming tour Starting from the market, where you visit a Chagga family producing banana beer, you walk northwards passing many different farms. On your way you get extensive explanation about the various fruits and vegetables growing in the area. Mzee Filipo, a farmer from Kigoma, will show you his oilpress and tell you about the history of irrigation in the area. Your trip ends at a farm built by the Belgium Development Organisation ACT, where you can visit their sunflower seeds production and make marvellous pictures of colourful flowerfields with the rift valley as background.

PAPYRUS LAKE TOUR
This walk starts five kilometre north of Mto wa Mbu, where the Miwaleni waterfall that falls down from the rift valley has created a green oasis. Passing some little streams you walk in the direction of the Papyrus lake, from where the Rangi people collect the materials for the mats and baskets they make. On your way you can see rice farming and visit Sandawe families who still make traditional bows and arrows for hunting. The walk can be extended with a climb to the waterfall at the rift valley. BALAA HILL TOUR
Starting from Mto wa Mbu you walk at the foot of the rift valley in northern direction. The farmers in this area mainly grow bananas (many different 30 varieties) and the big leaves provide a pleasant shade. On your way you can visit some farms and get explanation about the irirrigation methods in the area. Finally, you can climb Balaa hill, "the hill of misfortune", in about twenty minutes and enjoy the beautiful view over the green oasis of Mto wa Mbu. On the top the guides will explain you why the hill got its mysterious name. The walk can be extended with a visit to the Njoro springs, one of the main water sources for the area and a nearby waterfall.

ONE DAY WALK
People who like walking can combine the three half a day tours in a one day walk. Starting from the Mto wa Mbu market you go via the farm of ACT to the Papyrus lake. On your way back to Mto wa Mbu you walk along the foot of the rift valley, passing the Njoro springs and the Balaa hill.

Other options
When doing a part of the distance by car the various tours can also be combined in half or full day. Another popular option is renting a bicycle in the town and including many of the above tour options listed above. The guides of Mto wa Mbu have also recently started boat tours which include visits with fishermen and local farmers. On request, other tailor made tours can be arranged.

Guides
Our guides all grew up in Mto wa Mbu and recently finished Manyara secondary school. They can all speak English and are very familiar with the area. They will be happy to tell you many interesting facts and stories about the different cultures, the irrigation system and the various fruits and vegetables in the area. While looking for a job or further education, they like to gain experience and earn a small income by showing tourists the beauty of their area.

ACCOMODATION
In Mto wa Mbu there are several camp sites and guest houses. In most of these places tourists can eat a meal and order a lunch box. During tours, visitors will have the option of enjoying traditional cuisine prepared by local women in the village. Apart from the guest houses and camp sites in town, half hour by car from Mto wa Mbu there are three high quality lodges on the edge of the Rift Valley that oversee Lake Manyara National Park and surrounding area.

DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS
In the eighties the ILO had a Flood control programme in Mto wa Mbu, that also assisted the district in improving the irrigation system. Various intakes and aqueducts ensure that the water flows to all farms in the area. At the border of the irrigated land there are however serious problems of saltation, created by volcanic activities in the past. In this area the Belgium organisation ACT has in cooperation with the Monduli District Council built up a farm in order to try to use the land in a productive way and create employment for the local people. Among the crops that grow on the farm are many colourful flowers. The farm is also used as a centre from which ACT carries out its various community development activities. Nearby a dam has been built, where the Maasai cattle can drink water, even in the dry period. With support from ACT a Maasai women's group is producing energy saving stoves, that use three times less firewood and therefore help to preserve the natural forests and reduce the workload of women. The profit from the tourism programme will be used for the promotion of these stoves and other development purposes in the area.

When you are in doing this program, we can also arrange a visit to the Maasai women's group on Mondays and Wednesdays, when they are producing the stoves. The women will proudly show you their production method.