The town of Iringais an old German town from the colonial era. It is the capital of Iringa Region. It is the gateway to the southern part of the African Rift Valley and is located on top of a steep escarpment rising off the Tanzam Highway. Anyone wishing to reach Ruaha National Park by road will have to pass through Iringa en-route. The hotels in Iringa are basic but there are several good accommodation options nearby which are suitable as part of a long safari. At an altitude of 1500m it is often cool at night.
Iringa has a population of 112,900 (census 2004). The word Iringa is derived from the dominant local tribe, the WaHehe's language (the KiHehe word lilinga, means 'strong place'. Iringa, as it is seen today, was built around 1890 by the German Army as a fortress town to use as a base to put down the Hehe uprising lead by Chief Mkwawa. This revolt was called the 'maji maji' ('water water' ) rebellion because of the belief by the WaHehe that sacred water could make you bullet proof. Sadly this was not the case and you can see the skull of chief Mkwawa at his old headquaters at the nearby village of Kalenga. The skull was returned by the Germans after Tanzanian independence.
Iringa is a great place to to break for a night on the way to explore the Southern Highlands or Ruaha National Park. Whether you prefer to stay in Iringa Town or just outside there are several interesting sites to be seen in the area. Gangilonga Rock The 'talking stone' or 'Gangilonga' is a large rock with superb views over the town and the surrounding rocky hills.