Amani Nature Reserve
Amani is the largest forested block within the East Usambara Mountains and occupies the southern extremity of these mountains. The Amani Botanical Garden, established in 1902, is one of the oldest Botanical Gardens in Africa. It covers 340 ha and more than 1 000 species of plants from all over the world have been introduced to the garden. This garden is valuable for conservation, education, and research.
The Amani Nature Reserve consists of tall luxurious sub-montane forests and deciduous to semi-deciduous lowland forests with an Area (ha) of 8,380 ha (This includes 1,065 ha of submontane forest). Amani is located in the Tanga region and it falls within two districts Muheza and Korogwe
The altitudinal range is approximately 300 – 1,128 m (Kimbo Peak), with a central plateau having a mean altitude of 930 m. The western side borders Lwengera Valley and rises sharply from lowlands at 150-300 m to form rocky escarpments, such as Mnyuzi Scarp.
The Amani proximity (40 km) to the Indian Ocean is the wettest of all the East Usambara forest blocks, with at least 100 mm of rain falling in most months. Monthly rainfall peaks from April-May and October-December. Mean annual humidity is 87 % in the morning and 77 % at midday. The mean annual temperature at Amani Conservation Centre (900 m) is 20.6oC, with a mean daily minimum and maximum temperature of 16.3 C and 24.9 oC, respectively. The hottest season is January-February and the coolest is July-September.
The reserve has exceptional conservation values that include a rain forest, biological diversity, endemic, endangered, and threatened flora and fauna, water catchment, and soil conservation values. There are also historical sites and the famous Amani Botanical Garden without forgetting the ethical botanical values for the local community.
The Amani Nature Reserve is internationally renowned for the high number of endemism (i.e. those found here and nowhere else. For example, more than a quarter of the 30- odd species of amphibians and reptiles in East Usambara are found nowhere else in the world. Among plants, the submontane forests are especially rich in endemic species.
The common tree species include Cephalosphaera usambarensis, Allanblackia stuhlmannii, Albizia gummifera, Beilschmiedia kweo, Diospyros abyssinica, Englerodendron usambarense and Drypetes gerrardii. Epiphytic lichens and bryophytes are abundant, especially in steep summits.
The Usambara is famous as a home of most of the species of African violet Saintpaulia, named after Baron Walter von Saint Paulia Illaire, the German administrator of Tanga Province in the 1890s. Amani Nature Reserve is a center for biological diversity.
The floristic composition is very diverse and there are 2012 vascular plant species per hector. Thus large propositions of the endemic species are found within Amani Natural Reserve. The Reserve has been likened to the African equivalent of the Galápagos Islands in terms of their endemism and biodiversity. Therefore, it is considered one of the most important forest blocks in Africa.
Approximately 3450 species of vascular plants are recorded in the Usambara Mountains, and over one-quarter are likely to be endemic or near-endemic. In addition to the variety of plants, the mountains host a number of endemic or rare fauna species, including the Usambara eagle owl and a viviparous frog species.
East Usambara is roughly an equal distance between the capital city of Tanzania, Dar es Salaam, and the center of the Northern tourism circuit, Moshi and Arusha. Muheza at the foot of the mountains is a 4-5 hours drive on a good tarmac road from either Dar es Salaam (330 km) or Moshi (320 km) buses take 6-8 hours to reach Muheza. Muheza is 35 km (30 minutes from the coastal town of Tanga on a tarmac road.
There is an airstrip at Tanga city, where local flights from Dar es Salaam and /or via Zanzibar to Tanga operate.
For travelers reaching Muheza late for the afternoon bus to Amani, simple accommodation is available in Muheza but a wider choice and a higher standard of accommodation in Tanga city.
Although the area has been the focus of conservation efforts and botanical research for over a century, the Amani Nature Reserve has only been a protected area since 1997. International efforts to preserve the beauty of the Usambara forests within its boundaries have met with much local success
Amani is very reaching with waterfalls, a beautiful viewpoint which you can also see the sunset, night walk, forest hiking, mountain biking, bird watching also apart from this one can enjoy the beauty of Tanga Amboni caves.
The beautiful town of Pangani is a small town on East Africa’s coast that was 50 km South of Tanga with a long history of culture the town has Arabic, German, Asian, and British Colonial rules influence. Without forgetting the white beach sand of Saadani and the only National Park on the beach.
In Tanzania’s national parks, guided nature walks have been prohibited but are a unique feature of the nature reserve and offer an exciting opportunity to view the flora and fauna of the area up close. For the aspiring African botanist, Amani Nature Reserve’s incredible diversity of plant life – between 600 to 1,000 different species – is sure to attract.
The East Usambara Conservation Area (Amani Nature Reserve created and maintains the nature trails, as well as training guides in an effort to encourage village collaboration and conservation efforts. Short or long walks can be arranged, and the guides are very knowledgeable about local species, bird and insect life, and traditional plant uses.