Magoroto Forest Estate is Tanzania’s newest forest retreat situated near Muheza, Tanga, about 6 hours drive from Dar Es Salaam. It has a tropical rain forest climate with spices, birds and a man-made lake, making it the perfect getaway from the city. It was originally set up by German colonisers who wanted to create a lake to relax at (after a hard day’s colonising I guess?) After passing through many different hands, it is finally open to the public for the enjoyment of all.
It is possible to reach Magoroto Forest by public transport, if you are willing to take a boda boda from Muheza village. However, I chose to travel with a group. Solo travel in Tanzania can be expensive and difficult so I was really excited to hear about Unzip Tanzania.
Unzip Tanzania are a new travel collective who organise group trips to off-the-beaten-path destinations in Tanzania. They organise everything from camping equipment to transport to meals, making it an easy and affordable way to see this huge country. Plus there’s the added bonus of having a cool bunch of people to share the travel experience with!
I spent 3 days at Magoroto Forest, although 4 would be perfect. Once your body starts relaxing, it’s hard to want to board a bus back to the city, so I suggest taking 4 full days to truly unwind. That being said, I’ll give you my 3 day itinerary as it fits perfectly into a normal weekend break.
Day 1: Arrival, tent setting and sleep!
The drive to Magoroto Forest from Dar es Salaam is an adventure in itself. It’s a 4-6 hour drive on pretty mountainous terrain so I was glad to be in a bus full of fun people to make the journey seem quicker! Once we began the drive up the mountain from Muheza, I knew we were on our way to somewhere special. The views were spectacular (although I recommend closing your eyes if you’re afraid of heights!) When we arrived, it was already dark so we just ate and pitched our tents. I fell asleep easily in the cool mountain air and woke up to this breathtaking view.
I love how they have incorporated the camping area on the lakeside so we really felt at one with nature.
Day 2: Hiking, swimming and campfire fun
Day 2 began with breakfast with a view. We were then presented with three options- an easy, medium or hard hike. We were all low on sleep so I was relieved when the whole group decided on the medium option. Apparently the hard one has views the whole way to Mombasa but I honestly have no regrets…it gives me an excuse to go back!
If I’m honest, until this trip I will just say I was not hiking’s biggest fan! It has taken me a long time to admit that, because I love the views, the photo opportunities and the feeling of accomplishment, but hiking itself? It usually comes close to killing me!
This time was different though. First of all, for one of the first times in my life, I wasn’t the only one who wasn’t an experienced hiker. Usually I spend my time trying to keep up and pretending I’m still breathing but this time I was able to place myself solidly in the middle of the group and not have to fake an injury just to stop and take a breath. I had finally found my people!
The hike itself was not too difficult. The terrain was uneven and a long sustained incline, but the group atmosphere kept everyone moving. When we got to the top, we had to stop and take a few minutes silence at the view. Perfection!
My favourite part of Magoroto Forest was the lake. It is set up perfectly for relaxation. There are rafts, a boat, tubes, sun loungers and even a diving board. I could have easily spent three full days relaxing here.
Day 3: More swimming, tree planting and the long journey home
On the way back to Dar es Salaam, Unzip revealed a bonus activity that they like to do everywhere they go- tree planting! The manager of Magoroto Forest Estate explained to us that the steep cliffs on the drive up the mountain used to be full of trees. The main function of the trees were to offer some protection to drivers on the narrow road if an accident occurred. Sadly, in recent years the trees were being cut down for firewood.
In partnership with Magoroto Forest Estate, Unzip arranged for us to plant some new trees with the agreement that Magoroto Forest will plant some more to improve the safety, and environment bordering the road to the estate.
They will also engage the local community to take care of the trees and ensure they grow tall and strong like the ones that previously stood there. It was great to be able to give something back to the natural environment after spending a whole weekend enjoying it.
Magoroto Forest is an oasis of calm, tranquility and natural beauty. Have you visited? Let me know in the comments what your favourite part was!
Looking for more getaways from Dar es Salaam? Check out The Best Beaches near Dar es Salaam.