Amboni Caves

Northeastern Tanzania

Long the subject of local legend, these limestone caves are one of the most extensive subterranean systems in East Africa and an intriguing excursion for anyone with an interest in spelunking. Now home to thousands of bats, they were traditionally believed to house various spirits, and continue to be a place of worship and ritual. It’s possible to visit a small portion of the cave network, which is quite interesting, once you get past the litter at the entrance.

The caves were originally thought to extend 200km or more, and are said to have been used by the Kenyan Mau Mau during the 1950s as a hideout from the British. Although a 1994 survey concluded that their extent was much smaller – with the largest of the studied caves only 900m long – rumours of them reaching all the way to Mombasa persist.

The caves are about 8km northwest of Tanga off the Tanga–Mombasa road, and best accessed via bicycle arranged through Tanga Cultural Tourism Enterprise (about Tsh65,000 per person including entry fee, bicycle rental and guide). Alternatively, take a dalla-dalla towards Amboni village (Tsh1000) and get off at the turn-off for the caves, near the forestry office. From here, it’s 2.5km on foot to Kiomoni village; the caves stretch west of Kiomoni along the Mkulumuzi River. Bring along a torch and wear closed shoes to avoid picking bat droppings off your feet afterwards. Hiring a taxi from Tanga costs about Tsh50,000 return, including waiting time.

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