Iringa got its name from the Hehe word ‘lilinga’ meaning ‘fort’. Iringa is the administrative capital of the Iringa Region and has various established industries, including manufacturing and food processing. Majority of its electricity is supplied by the close by Mtera Dam. Iringa is a small transport centre, with steady bus services and trucking to Dar es Salaam, Mbeya, Songea, and Dodoma.
Iringa was constructed in the 1890s by the German Army as a defensive base to be used against the Hehe uprising, led by Chief Mkwawa. The Chief’s fortress and headquarters were located in Kalenga, a close by village. The town extends along a hilltop that overlooks the Ruaha River to the south, and stretched along ridges and valleys to the north.
The surroundings of Iringa reach an altitude of over 1,550 metres above sea level. During the months of June, July and August, the temperatures often drop to near freezing. The Tanzam Highway runs through the valley beneath the city, with the distance from Iringa to Dar es Salaam (through Morogoro) being 502 kilometres.
The Isimila Stone Age site is situated around 20 kilometres to the southwest and houses various archaeological artefacts, specifically stone tools from human inhabitancy approximately 70,000 years back. Iringa Urban Municipality is the administrative designation of the Municipality of Iringa. The town contains a couple of higher education establishments, including Tumaini University, Iringa University College and Mkwawa University College of Education.
Iringa can be easily reached by bus due to the many bus companies operating through the region. The road from Dar es Salaam is in the process of being upgraded into a good, solid road so that once road works have been completed, the trip to Iringa will be a pleasant one. The trip itself also takes you through some stunning scenery. Flights from Dar es Salaam to Iringa are also available, but can be rather expensive.
Iringa is the ideal stopover site on your way down through the Southern Highlands, or en route to Malawi and Zambia. If you are heading the opposite way, towards Dar es Salaam, the city of Iringa is most certainly a better place to rest than Morogoro. Iringa is definitely a worthwhile break in your travels, giving you the chance to enjoy the gorgeous sights, sounds and scents of this lively city. It also acts as the gateway to the finest game park in Tanzania, Ruaha.
When paying a visit to Iringa, be sure to check out Gangilonga Rock, which provides guests with fantastic vistas over the city. The rock itself is covered in graffiti from local youths. Neema Crafts Centre is a wonderful place to visit, with cafes boasting delicious cakes and freshly brewed coffee. You can embark on a tour of the workshops to see all of the different crafts being made, especially paper from elephant dung, which is a very intriguing process.
The rock paintings at Kombangulu are located around 10 kilometres from Iringa, towards Dodoma. The paintings are a beautiful complement to the Isimila Stoneage site. You could also take in a round of golf at the Mkwawa Golf Course, which provides guests with hours of entertainment. Iringa is a lovely city to pay a visit to, and is most definitely worth a stopover when travelling through this region.
Image courtesy of Africa Travel Resource