Living in Moshi, the Chemka hot springs (also called Kikuletwa hot springs or maji moto hot springs) are one of those places I keep going back to, no matter the fact that they get less and less off-the-beaten-path every time I visit. For tourists, I’d say they’re one of the best things to do in Arusha and Moshi and still a place you shouldn’t miss if you have a few extra days before or after your safari, simply for the relaxed vibe. You’ll probably not believe how tiresome safaris are until you’ve been on one, so don’t forget to squeeze a few less active days into your itinerary! 

What is it & why is it one of the best things to do in Moshi, Tanzania?

The Chemka or Kikuletwa hot springs are this little oasis in the middle of nowhere, somewhere off the main road between Moshi and Arusha, the 2 main starting points for Kilimanjaro climbs and northern safaris to parks like the Serengeti and Ngorongoro crater. You’ll drive over dusty roads (unless if you go in the rain season, then you’ll likely get stuck in the mud) for quite some time and then all of a sudden boom, it’s there. Radiant, crystal clear blue waters surrounded by lush trees that only scream one thing: JUMP! 

CHEMKA HOT SPRINGS, near Moshi, Tanzania

With a name that says ‘hot springs’, you’re probably thinking the water will actually be hot or at least warm but no… it’s actually the perfect temperature to refresh yourself and still stay in it for long periods of time without getting cold. Be aware that you need to know how to swim as it’s too deep to stand and there’s a bit of a current.

The Chemka hot springs are divided into 2 areas between which you can swim through a narrow-ish canal filled with dead tree branches and leaves from the overhanging palms. The first area is where you enter and is the smallest of both. It’s here that you’ll see local boys do their acrobatic rope jumps, where people sit at the shore and overall this is definitely the busiest, most lively part of the hotsprings. It’s also the area where at certain times at the day the light infiltrates through the trees in ways that are just spectacular. The second area is larger, quieter and less covered by trees and ideal for just floating quietly in the sun. 

Besides rope jumping, other fun activities are tire tubbing or getting the dead skin eaten off your feet by the tiny fish on the borders (this last activity is definitely not MY idea of fun but some people seem to love it). 

CHEMKA HOT SPRINGS, near Moshi, Tanzania

How to get to the Chemka hot springs

If you go by car, the hotsprings are a 1,5 hour drive from Moshi and a good 2 hour drive from Arusha. You can organize your own taxi or book a tour with a registered tour business in Moshi or Arusha if you don’t want to deal with organizing it yourself or if you don’t know a reliable driver. 

 

PRO TIP: IF YOU’RE BASED IN MOSHI, ASK YOUR DRIVER TO TAKE THE “TPC ROAD” FOR THE BEAUTIFUL VIEWS

The road through TPC to get to the hot springs, Moshi

Another way to get there is by combining public transport and cheap local private transport. Start by taking a daladala (minibus) to Boma N’gombe and there, find a bajaji (tuktuk) that is willing to drive you to the hotsprings. Be aware that the road from Boma N’gombe is super bumpy and bajajis are definitely not the most comfortable means of transport. As for the part in the daladala, it might be less bumpy but there’s a saying in Tanzania that goes ‘There’s 1 thing in Tanzania that is never full: a daladala’, so you should probably avoid this option if you struggle to share your private space with 17 others that are – just like you – sweating their lives away in a packed daladala. If you choose this option, leave early as it will take you much longer than 1,5 or 2 hours to get there.

If you’re up for a long ride in the sun, Chemka can also be reached by bike. There’s bike rental places in both Moshi and Arusha and most tour operators can also organize this for you. 

CHEMKA HOT SPRINGS, near Moshi, Tanzania

How much does it cost to visit the Chemka hot springs?

Of course the price will depend on your means of transport and whether or not you use a tour operator or go there by yourself. And if you chose the taxi or public transport options, you’ll have to put your negotiating skills to the test in order to get a fair price for the bajaji or taxi part or you might end up paying just as much as the price of an organized tour.

The number of people in your group also has an important impact on the price and the difference between the different transport options can become bigger or smaller depending on this. 

Here’s an idea of prices for a trip to the Kikuletwa hotsprings with Moshi as a starting point:

  • Chemka hot springs day trip with a tour operator: 
  • A correct price would be around 45 USD per person in a group of 4 to 6 people, 55 USD per person in a group of 3 or 65 USD per person in a group of 2. This includes transport, entrance fees, food, drinks and the services of not necessarily a guide but a driver who knows the place, can give you more information about the hotsprings as well as Tanzania in general and who will take care of everything for you (including watching your stuff while you swim). 
  • You can find it for cheaper but if you do, it’s highly unlikely that you’re dealing with a registered tour business that pays taxes and licenses and does things by the book.  
  • By taxi:
  • A taxi (normal car, max. 4 people) will take you to the hotsprings for around 100.000 TZS if you negotiate. For this amount they’re supposed to wait for you until you’re finished.  
  • Entrance fees charged range between 20.000 and 25.000 TZS per person if you go without a tour. 
  • For a group of 2 this brings the total to aprrox. 75.000 TZS or 33 USD per person excluding food, drinks and the services of a guide. 
  • Add around 7 USD per person for food and drinks at the hotsprings and you’ll pay a total of 40 USD per person without guide. 
  • By public transport:
  • The daladala ride from Moshi to Boma N’gombe should cost no more than 2000 TZS per person. 
  • For the bajaji ride you really have to negotiate as they might ask you for more than the price of a taxi. It’s difficult to give an estimation as bajaji drivers can be very stubborn and stick to the way-too-high price they’re asking but you shouldn’t pay more than 30.000 TZS per bajaji. For this amount they’re supposed to wait for you until you’re finished.  Keep in mind the fact that 4 people fit in a taxi and only 2 in a bajaji (you can fit 3 for short rides but don’t underestimate how long it’s going to take before you decide to take 1 bajaji for 3 people). 
  • Entrance fees charged range between 20.000 and 25.000 TZS per person if you go without a tour.
  • For a group of 2 this brings the total to 42.000 TZS or 18 USD per person excluding food, drinks and the services of a guide.
  • Add around 7 USD per person for food and drinks at the hotsprings and you’ll pay a total of 25 USD per person without guide.

If you have enough time, I’d say any option can work for you depending on your budget and how adventurous you want to get. If however, like many people who visit Tanzania, you only really have 1 or 2 days in Moshi or Arusha and just came back from a safari, you’ll probably be more tired than you’d expect and the tour operator or taxi option might be the better pick. Don’t forget to consider how important it is for you to have a driver that can give you more information as well, as you won’t get that service unless you book a tour with a tour company.  

CHEMKA HOT SPRINGS, near Moshi, Tanzania

Facilities you can expect to find & what to bring

Facilities at the hotsprings are basic but you’ll find a bar/restaurant with simple local dishes, squat toilets, a place to rent goggles, tire tubes etc. and a changing cabin. They recently put some tables and benches but it’s usually not enough for everybody and they’re also not the most comfortable (or even just straight).   

You should definitely bring a towel, a bathing suit and sun screen. If you have a GoPro or any other device that can shoot underwater videos and images, I’d definitely recommend that as well. But I’m sure the half-up-half-under pictures higher up in this post have already convinced you of that 😉

CHEMKA HOT SPRINGS, near Moshi, Tanzania

Not sure what to do in Moshi during your visit and thinking about heading to the Chemka hot spring? Or have you already been? Tell me all about it in the comment section!

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