Kazakhstan mountains as seen from Almaty's Botanical Gardens.
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Bangkok, Thailand.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Not sure!

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Usambara Mountains - Do you need a guide?

We normally like to travel and explore on our own. But that's just us, and we realize that it seems like many (most?) people prefer to hire a guide. Here in Tanzania, it is definitely more common for visitors to hire a guide where ever they go. 

When I was doing research regarding hiking in the Usambara Mountains area where we are right now, most references were regarding guided trips. And sure, if you're going to do 3 to 5 day excursions, then it's probably best to have someone organize it for you.

Like other multi day treks (Kilimanjaro, Meru!) in Tanzania, those types of trips aren't cheap. 

But even guided day trips are expensive. Here is Lushoto, it seems the average price of a guided day hike like the ones we did on our own to Irente Viewpoint or Magamba Forest is $35 USD ($44 CAD) per person!

And yes, the prices are in U.S. dollars. That's over 80,000 shillings per person (figure that there would usually be more than one person on the trek). It's tough to find accurate income figures for Tanzania, but I found references online where a fully employed park ranger might make 40,000 shillings a day. And we know that locals can hire a full time maid for 10,000 shillings a day.

And then of course you're expected to tip the guide as well.

Hiking in the Usambara Mountains near Lushoto, Tanzania.

We have found the Lushoto region very easy to navigate on our own. It would NOT be so easy without access to a smartphone with a GPS mapping program like maps.me that lists many of the routes and trails. But just about every visitor has a smartphone with them.

The people are friendly and easy to approach. Many of them speak at least basic English, so it's not that difficult to communicate if you need to ask for directions. And of course Google Translate on your smart phone make you an expert at Swahili!

Guides can make for a more enjoyable time though. If you're specifically wanting local information, they can usually answer all of your questions. And we know from experience that our time hiking on Mt. Meru and hiking on Mt. Kilimanjaro would not have happened without the help of our guides. So if you can justify the cost, and it's really what you want and need, then paying the extra money might be worth it to you.

But here in Lushoto, we do not see the point of hiring a guide just to do day hikes in the area. It's very easy to navigate.


And in Canada...


  1. We've never hired a guide for a tour be it hiking, museums, or cities. With internet, you can research in advance for all the info you need. If it's hiking, and there is a marked trail, there is also plenty of info online regarding the hike, the trail, flora and fauna. We haven't climbed any mountains but if we did, I too would hire guides to climb a mountain especially when the treatment is like what you received.

    1. We are pretty much just like you and only hire a guide if we absolutely have too, we much prefer to do our own thing and to go at our own rate.

      Doing Mt. Meru or Mt. Kilimanjaro, you have no choice but to take the guide and porters along, it is the only way that you are allowed to do the trek. I know that there are some really good backpackers out there that can do the PCT and AT trails for weeks and months on their own with no issue but they still would not be allowed to do either of these treks on their own.

  2. I’m starting to worry about Kevin, he hasn’t been him self in the last couple days!!

    The blog has been somewhat repetitious and he hasn’t been as confrontational or opinionated.

    We want the real Kevin. LOL

    1. Lol, Kevin is doing just fine, there is just a lack of things to talk about because we haven't been out hiking due to the rain. Plus this area is just so laid back that he has been taking things easy too! ;-)


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