Maji Moto Chemka Hot Springs
This day trip takes you to an idyllic oasis – a beautiful geothermal spring, better known as “Maji Moto” (Swahili for hot water), is a popular destination for locals and expats alike. The hot springs are situated in an oasis near the village Chemka, fed by an underground river from the Kilimanjaro National Park ca. 60 km to the north. On a clear day you will have exceptional views of Mount Kilimanjaro and its peaks.
The area is surrounded by very old and huge trees and feels like a natural green oasis in the African steppe. The drive time from Arusha is about 2 hours and on site the villagers run several small shops with food & drinks. Bathing in the warm and crystal clear water is very much recommended and save – there are also rubber rings for non swimmers. Camping on site is also possible. The Maji Moto area is well maintained and clean, it is managed by the local Chemka village community who charge a small entry fee.
Maji Moto Chemka Hot Springs
You leave your hotel or lodge in Arusha and drive about two hours to Maji Moto (from Moshi the journey is shorter). This scenic drive takes you off the beaten track. In the small village of Bomba N’Gombe you leave the tarmac road and continue on dusty tracks.
Probably nobody would expect an oasis for refreshment and relaxation in the desert-like landscape between Arusha and Moshi. On the way to this hidden paradise you pass a few isolated settlements here and there, but nothing indicates a small green oasis with lush palm and fig trees. Thus, it is not surprising that first of all one has the feeling to be on the wrong way until finally, one recognizes a lot of green in the distance.
This oasis that appears from nowhere has many names, some call it “chemka” others “maji moto” or “kikuletwa hot springs”. Once you have crossed the dense green of the palm and fig trees, the surprise is all the greater when you see the idyllic pool. The turquoise water sparkles crystal clear in the sun’s rays, giving you a clear view down to the ground. At the front end of the pool there is an underground opening from which water gushes out. The bubbles and bubbling give the impression of boiling water. This is probably the origin of the name “chemka” for the water, which means “boiling” in Swahili. However, the water is anything but boiling hot, but rather lukewarm. After driving on the dusty roads, one longs for nothing else but to jump into the pleasantly warm and crystal clear water.
Afterwards you spend a few hours in the pleasantly clear and warm water, swing into the water on a rope and relax in the shade of the old trees. Thanks to the constant, relatively strong current through the underground springs, even longer swimming is very pleasant and the small lakes have drinking water quality. Since most of the locals cannot swim, there is a life ring rental. Impress your fellow travellers when you jump elegantly into the refreshing water like Tarzan on a liana. The water depth of the springs varies depending on the location, the deepest places are estimated at 6m!
It is believed that the source of the water is fed by an underground stream of Mount Kilimanjaro. When the weather is clear, the majestic Mount Kilimanjaro can also be seen from the hot springs, which is always a breathtaking photo opportunity. From the springs the water flows further downstream until it flows into a large dam, which the locals call “nyumba ya Mungu”, meaning “the house of God”. The local people use this water source to irrigate their fields, but it is unsuitable as drinking water because of its high fluoride content.
Several small bars and shops (run by the local villagers) offer Swahili dishes, grilled meat and cool drinks. After your swim in the crystal clear waters and a relaxing day you return to your lodge or continue on to your next destination.