Travelers to Tanzania usually base in Arusha or Moshi in between hiking trips and safaris. While recovering from multi-day tours and hiking trips one of the best things to do is a day-trip to the Chemka Hot Springs, also known as the Kikuletwa Hot Springs. Just 1.5 hours from Arusha and nearby Moshi Town, this is one of the hidden gems of Tanzania that you need to visit. The water was crystal clear in this jungle oasis where you can relax all day and even enjoy rope swings, tire tubing, and some high jumps out of the trees.
In this blog post, I will share with you all of the details about Chemka Hot Springs. I also filmed an underwater video from our experience in the hot springs, which will give you a good idea of what you can expect when visiting. It’s possible to drive to the hot springs independently but most tourists join a tour or a group to reach the hot springs on a day-trip from Arusha or Moshi. I booked my Kikuletwa Hot Springs Day Trip with Altezza and was really pleased with the service, organization, and lunch from our guide.
CHEMKA HOT SPRINGS UNDERWATER VIDEO
A video doesn’t lie. This short video was filmed on a GoPro 7 and captures the clarity of the incredible underwater world at Chemka Hot Springs. The more tourists that are swimming, the more sand and sediments start to float around so arriving early in the morning is the best time for the clearest water.
CHEMKA HOT SPRINGS (KIKULETWA HOT SPRINGS) LOCATION
Chemka Hot Springs is a two-hour drive from Arusha Town and just over an hour drive from Moshi Town by car. If you are taking the bus, you can expect to add some time on for the slower drive, pick-ups, and transits to a motorbike or tuk-tuk. If you are planning a day-trip to the hot springs from Arusha, you can catch a local bus to Boma la Ngombe and then transfer from the bus to a motorbike, local taxi, or tuk-tuk. I decided that with the long journey from Arusha and different vehicles needed, I would book the tour with a driver since we were two people. It was more expensive but a comfortable drive to and from the hot springs so we had more time to enjoy swimming and less time sitting inside a hot bus.
I’ve added the exact pin location to the map below, which is accurate.
BOOKING A TOUR TO CHEMKA HOT SPRINGS (KIKULETWA HOT SPRINGS)
If you aren’t renting a car or catching a bus and organizing your own day, which is a little harder than you might think, you’re the best option is to book a tour to the Chemka Hot Springs as I did. There are quite a few options for booking a tour and even as you walk around the streets of Arusha, you will meet some local guides who offer to take you on a coffee tour, waterfall tour, or to the hot springs. I even had one guide offer to chaperone me but on a DIY route so it would be cheaper but he would make sure we caught the right buses and at fair prices. It’s really up to your preference, budget, and level of adventure.
I booked the tour online with Altezza. We had done several treks with them by this point and I found their service to be the best in Tanzania. Always on time, our guides always spoke English and the food and gear were always of high quality. On this trip Altezza provided pick-up and drop-off from our hotel in an air-conditioned van that was equipped with free Wi-Fi for the 2-hour journey. At the hot springs, our guide set up a private table and chairs.
A beach-towel, as well as a snorkel and mask, made a huge difference to our experience at the hot springs. Lots of tourists came and swam but didn’t have a mask. As you can see from my video below, there’s quite a lot they missed. Even if your tour doesn’t include a mask, make sure you rent one at the hot springs to see the incredible underwater world.
The Altezza tour isn’t the cheapest on the market but probably one of the best. I’ll add the link below so you can check out the prices. The bigger your group the cheaper the day-trip to Chemka Hot Springs becomes.
BOOK YOUR TRIP NOW: Kikuletwa Hot Springs Day Trip
MY EXPERIENCE AT THE CHEMKA HOT SPRINGS (KIKULETWA HOT SPRINGS)
After some big hiking trips up Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Meru, it was time to enjoy a relaxing day and recover our legs. A day-trip from Arusha to a tropical hot spring sounded like the exact remedy our bodies needed! I booked our tour the night before and at 9 am the next morning, we were into a van and on our way towards Chemka Hot Springs.
The drive takes about two hours and along the way, you will have views of Mount Meru and Mount Kilimanjaro on a clear day. This spot with views of Mount Kilimanjaro was taken when we quickly pulled over the side of the road to snap a shot of the mighty Mount Kilimanjaro popping above the clouds.
The drive was quite comfortable until the last thirty minutes, which is when we left the paved road and ventured on to a very bumpy, rocky road. Passing through a Maasai cattle trading area definitely made for some interesting sightseeing on the drive towards the hot springs. Just a few minutes away from Chemka Hot Springs, I couldn’t quite imagine how there would be a nice swimming spot nearby. It was bone dry outside with gravel, dust, and dry dirt in every direction. The hot springs truly are an oasis amidst the dry rock of the region.
Arriving at Chemka Hot Springs, we found that we were the only ones there at 11 am. Perfect. Without knowing what to expect, were were blown away by the crystal clear water. The vibrant blue contrasted beautifully against the tropical green ferns and palms that draped into the water. It was the oasis of Tanzania.
I’ve spent a lot of time in the tropics exploring countries like Indonesia and the Philippines and Papua New Guinea. Throughout that time, I was lucky enough to explore some incredible waterfalls and hot springs. Let me tell you, this is right up there as one of my favorite.
The water truly was crystal clear. Once the sediment and sand are kicked up a bit it can be a bit hazy but when you first get in it’s basically transparent, making it a dream to snorkel in. There are two main areas at the Chemka Hot Springs. The first area is the open canal and small lagoon. Here you can find dead trees under the water, cat-fish, and the small fish that nibble at your feet when you dip your toes in. The light rays that stream through this region during the middle of the day is truly phenomenal.
This part of Chemka Hot Springs is where all the action happens with trees to jump off and several levels of rope-swings to attempt if you are up for it. The water was quite deep but you still need to take care of your landing position and style as you are only working with a couple of meters of depth. If you are really adventurous, you can climb up the tree (opening scene of my video above) and jump down into the hot spring. I always wait to see what the locals are up to and then follow suit. The guys who work and hang out at the hot spring are basically an acrobatic troupe and were keen to show me all the highlights of the hot spring and also the ins and outs of the rope swing and jumps. We were happy to give them a small tip for sharing their local knowledge and good vibes throughout the day.
The second area is the large lagoon, where you can lay about in the sun and explore the underwater cave if you are capable of free-diving down 5-6 meters to inspect the depths of the cavern.
CHEMKA HOT SPRINGS FACILITIES
At Chemka Hot Springs you actually have the entire set-up. You’ll find multiple food and drink vendors who are cooking a local-style charcoal barbecue as well as selling other meals, drinks, and alcohol. We also enjoyed a fresh coconut to keep us hydrated. Throughout the small complex, there are many chairs and tables set-up to relax with your group of friends beneath the shade of the huge trees that tower over the hot springs. A toilet block and a changing area (made of palm leaves) are available so you can get in and out of your swimming gear before and after you enjoy the hot springs. All of the vendors and local guides at the hot springs were very friendly and we felt comfortable leaving our cameras and gear on the table while we swam but be safe with your gear as you never know.
I hope you enjoyed this guide to the Chemka Hot Springs (Kikuletwa Hot Springs) in Tanzania.