If you’re planning a Kikuletwa Hot Springs day trip while you are in Tanzania, you’ve come to the right place! Most people will fly in and out of JRO (Kilimanjaro) airport, and may stay a day in Arusha or Moshi on either end. If that is the case for you, Kikuletwa Hot Springs is an incredibly easy day trip.
We landed late in the evening after what felt like days of travel, so we wanted to enjoy a relaxing first day. A Kikuletwa Hot Springs day trip is a perfect stop for a chill first day or a great way to end your Tanzanian adventure.
There are a few things that are important to know before you go to Kikuletwa Hot Springs, so check out this guide for everything you need to know: the location, how to get there, what to expect, what to bring, what to wear, and all of the other things you never knew about Kikuletwa Hot Springs!
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Are Kikuletwa and Chemka Hot Springs the Same Place?
If you’ve been looking for hot springs near Moshi or Arusha, you may have come across both Kikuletwa Hot Springs and Chemka Hot Springs. If you read about both springs, they sound pretty similar, and there is a good reason for that… Kikuletwa Hot Springs and Chemka Hot Springs are the same place!
Kikuletwa Hot Springs Location
Kikuletwa Hot Springs is definitely not on the main road, so you’ll want to mark your location before you head out. On the map below, I tagged the location of Chemka Hot Springs, as well as hotel suggestions in both Arusha and Moshi.
How to Get to Kikuletwa Hot Springs
You have a couple options for how to get to Kikuletwa Hot Springs. You can either self-drive or go with a guide. It is approximately 35 minutes down a dirt road with some serious potholes and no signage. There are no public transportation options to get to Chemka Hot Springs. No matter what, make sure to check out the views from the parking lot – you can see Kilimanjaro on a clear day!
Self-Drive: To find your best deal on rentals in Tanzania, check out Expedia. This option gives you the most flexibility, and you can beat the crowds by driving yourself. If you want the flexibility, but you don’t want to drive, you could also hire a taxi to drive you there and back.
Tour: The perks of going with a guide are that you won’t have to navigate potholes or arrange transport, and your guide will be able to watch over your belongings while you’re enjoying the hot springs. I’d personally recommend this option for peace of mind.
Kikuletwa Hot Springs Entrance Fee
Typically, entrance fees are straightforward, but the entrance fee at Chemka Hot Springs is a little fuzzy. At times, there is no entrance fee. Other times, it is $5 for all foreigners, and at others, it is $5 for children and $10 for adults. It is very dependent upon who is working, but the good news is, it is never that expensive!
We went in with a guide, and he handled the entrance fee for us as part of our tour cost – again, going with a guide is by far the easiest and I would highly recommend this route!
What to Expect for Your Visit to Chemka Hot Springs
There are a few things I wish I knew before our Kikuletwa Hot Springs day trip, so I want to pass along some knowledge nuggets so that you are more prepared than I was!
Are the Kikuletwa Hot Springs Actually Hot?
Spoiler alert: Chemka Hot Springs are not actually hot. They were about 83°F (or 28.3°C) on the day we visited, which felt absolutely perfect in the sun.
In Swahili, “Chemka” translates to boiling, which is in reference to how the water looks as it emerges from the underground springs. Therefore, we end up with “hot springs” that are not actually hot, but really more of a lagoon. If I could rename this area, I would call it the Kikuletwa Lagoon. Even though the Kikuletwa Hot Springs are not hot, it feels like a perfect desert oasis and is absolutely worth a visit.
Inflatable Tubes at Chemka
You’ll see the locals offering inflatable tubes at Kikuletwa Hot Springs. At first, we jumped in without any since we’re good swimmers, but we ended up going back to grab some tubes.
It is surprisingly deep throughout the lagoon, and the current is pretty strong. The tubes made it so much more relaxing, so I’d recommend grabbing one to fully enjoy your time swimming.
We did not have to pay anything additional over and above the entrance fee to have use of the inner tubes. If you choose to get a tube, watch out for the metal valve stems that stick out of the tubes. Some are on the inside of the tube, and others are on the outside. Try grabbing a tube with a valve stem on the outside so it doesn’t scratch you while you’re lounging in your tube.
Where you enter the lagoon, you’ll see a rope swing (to the right in the picture below). This is super popular with the locals, and you can see them doing tricks on the rope all day. Picture triple flips, high jumps, etc. It gets pretty wild!
However, don’t be intimidated by the epic tricks that the locals do. Plenty of tourists partake in the swing and do more the more traditional swing and drop method.
Fish Will Nibble Your Feet
Another very random quirk about Chemka Hot Springs is that there are little fish that will nibble your feet as you enter the lagoon. I’m extremely ticklish, so this was quite a surprise!
The good news is, once you are off the ladder, the fish seem to leave you alone. They’ll only latch on as you enter and exit the Kikuletwa Hot Springs.
Sundays are the Busiest
When you’re planning your visit, try to visit on a weekday to avoid the crowds. The weekends, particularly Sundays, are the busiest at the lagoon. Unfortunately, Sunday was our only option, so we made it work!
The good news is that if you arrive a little earlier (think 9AM), it is still pretty quiet. If you’re planning to do your Kikuletwa Hot Springs day trip on a weekend day, I’d try to get there earlier to enjoy the lagoon before the locals arrive.
Facilities at Kikuletwa Hot Springs
There are facilities at Kikuletwa Hot Springs, but they are pretty rudimentary. There are a few rooms you can use to change; the rooms have dirt floors, metal doors, and concrete walls (with no hooks). If you are planning to use the facilities to change and need to put any items on the floor, they will get dirty. This is just a heads up so that you can be prepared – we used the facilities to change after we were done swimming and had no problems whatsoever. We left our change of clothes and backpacks with our guide while we swam at Kikuletwa Hot Springs.
There are also squatty potties at Chemka, though there was no toilet paper when we visited. If you think you may need to use the restroom, plan to bring some toilet paper of your own.
What to Wear to Chemka Hot Springs
For your visit to Chemka Hot Springs, wear a bathing suit, cover-up, and flip flops. The walk from the parking lot to the lagoon is only a minute or so, so no safari clothes or hiking shoes are needed. Also, the ground around the lagoon is a bit muddy, so flip flops are the easiest shoe choice.
If you prefer, you could also change into your bathing suit at Kikuletwa using the facilities there. I’d recommend showing up in your bathing suit so you are ready to go when you arrive!
What to Bring for Your Visit to Chemka Hot Springs
Fortunately, a Kikuletwa Hot Springs day trip doesn’t require much packing. Make sure you bring a towel, change of clothes, GoPro (or waterproof camera), sunscreen, and sunglasses. While the entrance to the lagoon is shaded, there is a part of the lagoon that gets direct sunlight. The sunny area is also the area with no current, so this is where we spent most of our time.
Food at Kikuletwa Hot Springs
You don’t have a ton of food options for your Kikuletwa Hot Springs day trip. There is one little place to eat there where you can purchase water, drinks, and traditional Tanzanian dishes (meat & rice). We didn’t choose to eat there, but instead waited until we were back in Arusha.
If you do choose to eat at Chemka Hot Springs, there are plenty of benches and picnic tables in the shade for you to enjoy your meal.
Where to Stay Near Kikuletwa Hot Springs
You have a few choices when choosing where to stay near Kikuletwa Hot sSprings. I’d recommend either Moshi or Arusha. Moshi is closer than Arusha, so you’ll have to decide what makes the most sense for the rest of your Tanzania itinerary.
Where to stay in Moshi:
Tulivu Kilimanjaro Retreat: This hotel is a beautiful paradise in Moshi. At night, take advantage of the cozy fire, and there are tons of common spaces to enjoy. The staff are incredibly accommodating, and you cannot go wrong with a stay here.
Flamingo: This hotel is located conveniently to Moshi, but you’ll be able to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. Enjoy a great outdoor pool area, views of Kilimanjaro, and huge rooms. Plus, if you’re planning to stay here after hiking Kilimanjaro or taking a safari, you should take advantage of their spa! Indulge in a relaxing massage to top off your trip.
Kaliwa Lodge: Kaliwa Lodge is located a bit outside of Moshi at the foothills of Kilimanjaro. You will you be able to enjoy stunning views of the mountain and fully relax in this beautiful oasis. Seriously, just check out the photos of this hotel. Fair warning: reaching this hotel is not for the faint of heart and the road is pretty bumpy, but the views are absolutely worth it once you arrive.
Where to stay in Arusha:
Lake Duluti Lodge: If you have the budget, this is the place to stay that will fulfill all of your luxury dreams. The lodge is located to the east of Arusha, and has a garden, pool, and sun terrace. After a day of exploring, slip into a cozy bathrobe and enjoy an exceptionally luxurious stay.
African Tulip: This hotel is conveniently located in Arusha and is moderately priced. African Tulip is home to an on-site restaurant, which is incredibly helpful after a full day of exploring. The staff was so friendly and made our stay a great start to our Tanzania trip!
For some more travel inspiration, check out some of the posts below!
Safari Tips for First-Timers: 20 Top Things to Know Before Going on Your First Safari
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Safari Photography Tips: 14 Outstanding African Safari Photography Tips
Safari Outfits: What to Wear on Safari for Women: 10 Cute Outfit Ideas
Tented Safari Camps: Top 13 Things You Always Wanted to Know About Tented Camps
Tanzania Itinerary: Tanzania 7 Day Itinerary
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Have you visited Kikuletwa Hot Springs in Tanzania? What tips would you pass along for your day trip to Chemka Hot Springs?