History / Overview
Amboni Cave is the largest known cave system in East Africa. Located near the town of Tanga in Tanzania, there are six separate caves of which only three are officially open to the public. The other three are likely to be inhabited by wild animals and have been closed by officials. Composed of limestone, the forces that formed Amboni are unusual. Over 150 million years ago, when the level of the ocean was higher, sea water supposedly carved out these passage ways in the rock.
It is rumored among the local people that there is one long passage way that leads across the border to Mombasa Kenya but this is extremely unlikely. The cause of this rumor is probably an unusual occurrence that took place many years ago, just after the second world war. Two European explorers set out to document the caves taking their dog along with them. After entering the cave, they were never seen again but their dog with it's ID tags was found dead 250 miles away at the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro.
Another famous legend among locals is the tale of Osale Otango. Otango, a local rebel of the 1950's made it his priority to kill and steal from "Mzungus" (white people) especially the German settlers of the Tanga region. Otango used the caves as his hideout between his night excursions to haunt the white settlers and authorities. Stories of his supernatural powers quickly grew among the people. He was shot and died in 1958 but many people still believe he could not be killed and is still lurking somewhere in Amboni.
If you sign up for the cave tour you will be lead around various chambers while frequently being asked "do you see it?" by your guide as he points to formations that are supposed to resemble animals and whatnot. Highlights include one small passage way, a chamber where you can observe bats face to face, and the "Mzimuni Chamber". The Mzimuni Chamber (Chamber of Spirits) is where some local women come to leave offerings on the floor and pray for fertility. You will see a wide range of objects scattered here.
Directions / Red Tape
Take the Horohoro-Mombasa road 3.5 miles northwest of Tanga to the turnoff for Kiomoni village. The caves are west of Kiomoni village along the banks of the Kulumuzi River. If this sounds confusing, just hire a guide at the tourist office located downtown Tanga on the corner of Independence Ave. and Usambara St.
To enter the cave you must sign the register and pay 2000 Tanzanian Shillings which is roughly less than 2 US Dollars.