Meru/Usa forest plantation is located within Mount Meru Forest Reserve in Arumeru and Arusha districts, Arusha region. The forest lies between Latitude 3º15'-3º18' South and Longitudes 36º41'-36º42' East, about 20 km North of Arusha city.
The Forest Plantation is part of Meru Forest Reserve (26,000ha) which was gazzeted in 1920 by Government Notice number. 232. The plantation has an area of 8170Ha and for management purposes is divided in eight ranges namely, Olmotonyi, Nading’oro, Flota, Oldonyosambu, Narok, Themi, Ngongongare and Sakila.
The forest is accessed by an all-weather road branching at 5 - 10 km from the Moshi – Arusha - Nairobi highway to the Plantation Headquarters. Arusha city is a thriving centre linked by roads and air to local and international destinations, where by Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA) is about 45 km.
The city is an important tourist destination being situated at the edge of several National Parks, which includes Serengeti, Arusha, Manyara, Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority (NCAA) and the famous Mount Kilimanjaro, the peak of Africa which is about 120 km away.
Meru/Usa plantation was established to provide soil and water conservation, wood materials for wood based industries and domestic use, employment, climate emilioration and generation of government revenue
The plantation has high species diversity of both exotic and natural tree species. The major exotic tree species are Pinus patula, Grevillea robusta, Eucalyptus spp and Cupressus lusitanica. Natural forests cover 1,629ha and mostly located along the rivers and on valleys conserved for their biodiversity and water catchment values. The natural forests harbours many tree species such as Entandophragma excelsum, Ficus thorningii, Ekebergia capensis, Syzgium guinensis, Albizia gummifera, Olea capensis, Olea africana, Hagenia abyssinica, Albizia schimperiana, Croton spp and Podocarpus gracilior. Also there is a number of fauna such as birds, blue and white colobus monkey and baboons.
Meru/Usa Forest Plantation consists of tree of different age classes and standing volumes. Large volume is in age class of 11 to 15 years which constitutes about 52% Pinus patula and Cupresus lusitanica are the dominant species in the age classes 6 and >25 years) and their coverage is 35.2% and 16.7% respectively. Other species, Grevillea robusta, Acacia melanoxylon and Olea capensis (highly valued timber tree species) cover 48%.
Meru/Usa forest plantation has attractions for tourism such as
- Mount Meru Forest Nature Walk
- Forest Silent walk and meditation
- Hiking to the waterfalls
- Sambasha Hill Hiking
- Cultural Tours In Maasai & Meru Villages
- Bird Watching
- Mt. Meru Forest Cycling Tours
- Weekend Specials & Silent forest walks
- Kilimanjaro Trekking Acclimatization Programme
Eco –Tours on offer;
Meru Forest Plantation Tour (Half Day)
Visitors get an opportune time to visit one of its kind forest plantations, partly with planted forest and the other big part consisting of natural montane forest. Guides of the forest will brief you about the forest plantation and the community living around. You will take a walk to the plantation’s nursery where attendants are busy mixing potting ingredients. Learn how to do soil mixing, pot filling, weeding, watering and root pruning for the trees at the nursery. Participate in the transplanting exercise and listen carefully to the procedures it takes to plant a forest tree for high yield in timber production before planting yours. After planting get to know how foresters harvest trees and process different parts for different uses by visiting the sawmill workshop at the plantation.
Sambasha Hill hiking (Half Day)
The tour starts at the tree nursery where visitors learn various activities conducted by Meru-Usa Forest Plantation from planting to harvesting of forest trees for timber. Visitors get an opportune time to plant a tree –making this world a better place to live. You will take a walk in the forest plantation for a short-while and then enter a natural forest on the slopes of Sambasha hill that offers a panoramic view of nearby villages and Arusha city. On the way one will encounter Black and white colobus monkeys, Blue monkeys, forest antelopes and singing forest birds and beautiful flowers of the mountain. On top of the Sambasha hill learn bee-keeping and enjoy your drinks/bites at Sambasha picnic site under thick forest.
Themi River Waterfalls Tour (Half Day)
Starting at Oldonyo Sapuk village panoramic view of Arusha town, you will walk along the forest plantation and descend to the river valley through a little bit challenging slopes for about 15 minutes. Follow the river bed with your water proof shoes or slippers to where the waterfall is located. Listen to hundreds of tails on what local people believe about the falls, locally named by Maasai ‘NAVURU’. After enjoying the falls, start your journey back, through the river bed and then a short hike up.
Visitors are advised to bring walking shoes and slipper, walking sticks are provided by the Meru Forest Eco-tourism office (Hot lunch/traditional food prepared and served by women living around the bordering village/Maasai BBQ can be arranged)
Forest Bird Watching Tour (Half Day)
During this tour you have an opportune time to identify and watch different kinds of birds from highlands forest bird species to seasonal migratory birds that visit our forest and nearby local farms from time to time. The melodious sound of birds and other insects will multiply your joy and increase your relaxation in a natural world of its own kind. Our bird watching experience can start from any point of interest depending on what will be a combination and time for the tour.
Mt. Meru Forest Cycling Tour (Half day)
Explore the forest on 2 wheels! Join our guided bicycle adventure on the slopes of Mt. Meru!
Our cycling tour may cover 10 - 15 km alongside the forest, on the southern part of Mt. Meru where one can see various primates such as baboons, monkeys, Black and white colobus monkeys as well as various species of birds and flowers. Bike rides start from the forest’s main gate. You will enjoy the landscape full of fresh and crispy air from the forest on your ride and then extend to the local village settlements and farms to learn local agricultural practices – you can opt to hike down the river gorge to take natural shower at one of our majestic waterfalls. At the end of the bicycle tour a delicious local food is provided, and you will be part of our daily business of making Mt. Meru always green – visit the nursery and plant a tree
Silent Mt. Meru Natural Forest Walk and Meditation
- Do you want to escape the stressful noises of your everyday life?
- Do you want to feel nature, allow your senses to absorb what nature offers, happier and rejuvenated?
Your only choice, join Mt. Meru Forest Silent walk - special tour ever offered by professionals in Northern Tanzania!
The program involves a real silent walk through the forest and experience nature at its best, the tour will benefit you both physically and mentally. Be in close contact with the Forest and its wild life. Listen to the natural sounds and music of the surrounding nature: the melodious songs of the montane forest birds, the guttural uttering of the monkeys and the whispers of the wind. Breathe the crispy, fresh forest air and dive into the healing smell of beautiful flowers. Watch the butterflies as they decorate the forest. Let your mind become peaceful and quiet. Be part of nature!
Spectacular picnic sites are available for those bring their drinks and bush lunch. The sites are installed with basic facilities for your adventure. We apply the principle of ‘TRASH-IN TRASH –OUT’. Visitors are advised to avoid littering in the forest
Our forest is surrounded by local community mostly known as Wameru and Waarusha tribe. You have a great opportunity to interact with locals during your visit as well as learning their way of life. Visit different sites used for rituals and other tribal activities in the forest and listen to hair raising stories from the warriors, women and children born and raised in the rural villages
Village Cultural Tour (half day)
Take an opportune time to visit the local people, sing and dance with them and learn about their life style in typical African villages. Your local guide from the community will lead you to a massive fig tree used by Maasai (Illarusa dialect) as holy worshiping site. Listen to stories about what local people believe about these majestic trees and learn how they give their offerings to their gods. The tour proceeds to local farms, Maasai homes, herbalist and midwife who will spend their glorious time with you sharing their traditional knowledge how they prescribe, identify the right medication to cure local people using local plants. The tour ends with a traditional lunch prepared by Naramatisho women group. The tour is also combined with visit to local schools to learn about our education systems as well as other community projects
Tanzanian Food Cooking Experience (half day)
This tour is perfect for those who are interested in learning how to cook different types of local food. The dishes, that you learn to prepare, are always included in our tour packages. You will be involved from the first step of buying the ingredients at the local market or collecting ingredients from the garden/farm then cooking in a typical African kitchen in the traditional way to the last step of serving the delicious food. A wide range of mouth watering dishes can be part of the lesson such as cooking Makande, Ugali, different vegetable with cone, beans or banana and banana stew. Your tour guide will be there to explain each and everything from the first to the last step.
Itineraries and packages can be tailored according to time, level of fitness, comfort and other purposes as per individual needs!
Special activities and evening programmes visitors staying overnight
While enjoying a relaxed vibe of the forest and local villages taste a locally produced wine or beer and a Maasai barbeque. The evening goes with sharing stories about the forest, the people and their traditional lifestyles with off course some relaxation and listening songs and music from the forest stars, the birds and primates
Things to do:
Walking safaris, Forest hiking, Meditation, Bird watching, Forest silent walk, Forest Farm activities, Tree planting, Forest cycling, Visiting view points, Waterfall walks, Acclimatization trekking for those planning to conquer Mt. Meru & Kilimanjaro, picnic, cultural tourism activities such as coffee tour, visiting the medicine men, Maasai dance, visits to ritual sites and villages nestled on the slopes of Mount Meru
Where to stay;
One rest house with 5 beds is available for visitors at the forest plantation office. Camping ground installed with Modern facilities is available. All our accommodation options guarantees a hot water shower, modern toilets accompanied by outstanding customer service Eco-Tour Guides: Our Eco-tour guides are from the local communities surrounding the Meru Forest who knows well the area, their culture, history and speaks good English. However, there is a wide range of accommodation facilities in the town of Arusha and its outskirts that meet different levels of comfort, budget and quality of service desired by customers
Meru Forest Eco-tourism Coordination office is locates 12 kms North-West of Arusha town. A number of commuters (locally known as dala dala) ply the way from Arusha to Ngaramtoni. From Ngaramtoni one can take a tax or walk through the Forest road heading north for about 30 minutes to Meru Forest Eco-tourism office.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT;
Meru/Usa Forest Plantation
P. O. Box 1257, Arusha