Things To Know About The Famous Amboni Caves : These fascinating caves, the largest limestone caves in Tanzania, are situated along the Mombasa-Tanga highway in Kiomoni village, 8 kilometers north of Tanga. The caves, which span nearly 234 square kilometers, are thought to have formed about 150 million years ago during the Jurassic period.
The gorges with rock walls, the limestone pavements split by deep fissures and dongas, the fields of eroded limestone pillars, and the extensive networks of caves and rock shelters that open to the surface within the gorges are what make the cave area unique. There are ten caves in total, with several interior chambers that are quite dark; however, only one is accessible via this method and is open for guided tours.
The Amboni caves, which are home to numerous bats and were once believed to be the abode of various spirits, are still used by the locals for rituals and worship. According to history, the caves’ initial estimated length was 200 kilometers or more.
The caves are surrounded by a number of incredible and mythical tales. The locals hold the caves to have supernatural formations, where it is said that “Mizimu” powers have lived ever since the cave was formed. There are also sacred spaces where people can worship particular ghosts. The name of one of them is “Mzimu wa Mabuvu.” Locals claim that the mighty spirit can grant them wealth and lessen their suffering from illness.
DISCOVERY OF THE AMBONI CAVES
Amboni Limited, a business that primarily ran sisal plantations in the area, acquired the land in 1892. The Amboni caves were brought to the attention of the British Colonial Administration, and in 1922 the area was designated as a conservation area.
Although it is unknown when the Amboni caves were discovered, reports indicate that ethnic groups in the area, including the Sambaa, Bondei, Digo, and Segeju, used the caves for prayer. In 1963, the Tanganyika government transferred control of the caves to the Department of Antiquities.
Numerous inspiring and mythical tales, as well as a number of local legends, are connected to the Amboni caves. The locals believe that since the formation of the caves, divine forces known as “Mizimu” have lived there as supernatural features. Certain cave chambers, where demons like “Mzimu wa Mabuvu” are worshipped, are considered sacred. Some of the locals hold the faith that a supernatural deity exists who has the power to heal their ailments, relieve their suffering, and even increase their fertility.
POTENTIAL CAUSES OF AMBONI CAVES FORMATION
The process of creating limestone Amboni Caves were created by a special kind of erosion. Three theories can account for their formation, according to Mturi (1975–2018–19). The vedose process is the first one. According to this theory, rainwater absorbs carbon (IV) oxide from the atmosphere to create a weak carbonic acid that can dissolve calcium carbonate, the mineral that makes up limestone. The limestone is dissolved as the acidified rainwater seeps through it, creating caves and crevices.
The phreatic origin is the name given to the second theory. According to this theory, erosion of the sub-water table caused the Amboni caves to form. When acidified rainwater reaches the water table through limestone, it becomes saturated as a calcium bicarbonate solution. In this case, it could dissolve calcium carbonate.
The Amboni caves, which are found in Kiomoni village, are regarded as the largest limestone caves in all of East Africa. The one and a half-kilometer-long caves are a fascinating historical site that the local populations used as hiding places. Thousands of tourists from around the world and the local population have visited the caves over the years, making them one of the most popular attractions in the region. The caves’ interior is very dark and potentially dangerous. Tourists can access the majority of the tunnels and chambers by taking a guided tour.
ATTRACTIONS AND BELIEFS
One of the most well-known tourist destinations in the region, the Amboni Caves have extensive underground halls with towering formations. It is advised that visitors wear comfortable clothing and bring small cameras with them because it is exhausting to carry larger cameras while navigating confined spaces. Additionally, visitors are asked to leave large bags at a designated location before going into some small spaces. The trip is worthwhile, though, because of the stunning formations that can be seen while moving through the squeezes.
The Amboni caves have religious significance to the local populations because they are used as shrines for worship and sacrifice. Since ancient times, the caves have been used by some locals as a place to pray for various purposes. In a practice that most people would consider superstitious, prayers are said in the first chamber. The villagers offer gifts to the spirits by placing various items in the chamber during prayers. The Department of Antiquities in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism is responsible for maintaining the caves.
LOCATION OF AMBONI CAVES
The road that branches off the Tanga-Mombasa highway leads to the Amboni caves, which are located about eight kilometers from Tanga. After leaving Tanga, turn left onto the B121 road that leads to Mjessani to reach the main forest section (Msitu wa Mbogo). Park your car along the B121 road about 5.5 kilometers away, then travel two kilometers south on a footpath to reach the river. Turn left into Kimono village on the Tanga-Mombasa road four kilometers after leaving Tanga to reach the Amboni forest patches. The road travels through the entire village and goes down to the caves. To locate the additional forest patches upstream, park the car and take a stroll along the river. You can travel on foot within two hours from Tanga to all of these locations.