A small village just a bit below the edge of Kilimanjaro National Park, a beautiful waterfall, an introduction to local coffee making and a delicious homemade ‘Chagga’ (*) lunch… A visit to Materuni waterfall and village is one of the best introductions to local village life near Moshi, Tanzania.
(*) The Chagga are the third largest tribe of over 120 existing tribes in Tanzania. A lot of them live on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro.
What is Materuni waterfall & village?
Materuni village is located about 45 minutes from Moshi by car, at an altitude of 1300 m above sea level. It’s one of the most visited villages around Moshi. Its main highlight is definitely Materuni waterfalls and the hike to get there from the village. But there’s more to do and see here, and many more reasons to visit!
If you combine the waterfall visit with a local coffee experience and a Chagga lunch, this makes for a great day trip before or after your Kilimanjaro climb or safari. You’ll get to know a lot about Chagga culture, about the village, about the plants and trees that can be found here and what they’re used for and of course about coffee, as that is also one of the things Kilimanjaro is known for.
The drive up to the village from Moshi (which has an altitude of 800 m above sea level) is also beautiful and will give you an excellent idea of what roads and villages look like outside of city centers as well.
Materuni waterfall hike
I’d recommend to start from Moshi around 9 AM as that’s more than early enough to finish everything and return back to Moshi before dark and because I’m not a morning person. If you are, you can of course go earlier but know that the office where you pay the entrance fees opens at 8.30 AM so there’s no point in arriving before that.
Regardless of how you get to Materuni, you’ll have to stop at the office in the village to pay. Local transport stops here and private cars normally also don’t go further than this point during this excursion.
I always start with the waterfall as it’s quieter in the morning and you won’t have to cross people that are already coming back on your way there. The paths are narrow at some points so it can be annoying if people are walking in 2 directions. It also works better time-wise if you want to get the fresh Chagga lunch. The waterfall is a 45-minute walk from the office but if you’re not in good shape or you don’t feel like walking, you can take a bodaboda to a place that’s around 15 minutes walking from the waterfall.
The hike to the waterfall is a pretty easy one from a physical point of view, you just need to be careful when it’s been raining. Good shoes are a must and walking sticks are recommended if the ground is wet. With my own tour business, we don’t organize this hike when we judge that it’s rained too much as the paths really turn into mud baths. My mother broke her leg here as she slipped, so yes, I’m serious. It’s a story we laugh about now, but she had to be carried over the super narrow path on somebody’s back and then on a mattress-turned-questionable-stretcher as soon as it got a little bit wider. They sent a car as far as possible to pick her up after which it was a painful 1-hour drive over bumpy roads to the nearest hospital.
Materuni village: coffee experience & Chagga lunch
Once you get to the waterfall you can of course rest for a while and you can even swim. But be prepared, as the water is usually super cold! You then hike back for about 1 hour, as the path goes uphill on the way back. You can stop along the way to get some local banana beer, which I’ll just describe here as having a quite particular taste 😉
After arriving back in the village, you can head to one of the places that organizes coffee experiences. All of them offer a similar service and also prepare Chagga lunches so it really doesn’t matter that much which one you pick. There’s a few close to the office and there’s others for which you need to walk a bit more. The coffee experience is pretty fun, as the local guys will be singing and dancing throughout the whole process. You’ll process coffee beans from the first step to the last, fully by hand, and end up with a nice cup of fresh coffee.
How to get to Materuni
If you go by car, Materuni is a 45-minute drive from Moshi and a 2h45 drive from Arusha as you have to pass through Moshi to get there. The ‘normal’ road is currently out of service and I have no idea when it will be usable again, so you have to take a small detour but it should take no more than an hour.
You can take public transport, organize your own taxi (ask your hotel!) or book a tour with a registered tour business in Moshi.
If you go by public transport, there’s a direct daladala from Moshi central bus stand to the office at Materuni village. This is very straightforward, you just have to wait until it’s full before it departs. The price is low at around 1000 TZS per person, one-way. I’ve never had to negotiate on busses here in Tanzania so I think they always just give you the correct price. You can just go to the bus stand and ask which one to take.
How much does it cost to visit Materuni waterfall?
It’s important to know that you can’t get from Materuni village to the waterfall by yourself as there’s not a single sign that tells you where to go. There’s guides at the village office and you can negotiate their salary but please keep in mind that a normal salary for a guide is 20 – 25 USD per day plus the same amount in tips. This is for small groups, let’s say up to 8 – 10 people. A lot of them will accept less out of necessity but I always find it important to pay a fair amount.
Of course the price will depend on your means of transport and whether you use a tour operator or go there by yourself. And if you chose the taxi option, you’ll have to put your negotiating skills to the test in order to get a fair price or you might end up paying just as much as the price of an organized tour. As I wrote above, the bus will cost you around 1.000 TZS one-way and for a taxi for max. 4 people you should pay around 100.000 TZS including a driver that serves as a guide. So you’ll save the salary of the local guide but you’re still supposed to tip the taxi driver.
The village fee is 10.000 TZS or around 5 USD per adult. Sometimes they give a discount for children, sometimes they don’t. The coffee experience and Chagga lunch are privately ran and tbh I have no idea how much they charge if you go privately. If it’s like everywhere else chances are pretty big it’ll be more than what they charge tour operators. Keeping those prices in mind, I’d say don’t pay more than 10.000 TZS per person for the coffee tour (unless you’re solo, then max. 20.000 TZS) and no more than around 25.000 TZS per person for the lunch. You’ll have to bring your own water.
If you go to Materuni waterfall and village on an organized tour, you can count around 60 USD per person in a group of 4 people and around 80 USD per person in a group of 2 people. This is considering you’re dealing with a registered tour business that pays taxes and licenses and does things by the book. You can also find guys in the street who will do it for half that price but it’s illegal and risky.
Not sure what to do in Moshi during your visit and thinking about heading to Materuni waterfall? Or have you already been? Tell me all about it in the comment section!