Mto wa Mbu is situated on the way from Arusha to the National Parks in Northern Tanzania, just at the foot of the Rift Valley. Mto wa Mbu is the entry port to Lake Manyara National Park; the park with the tree-climbing lions and many birds named after the long drawn lake that is fed by the water flowing down from the escarpment of the Rift Valley. It also conveniently on the way to Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti which makes it an ideal rest place for most safari travelers.
The area around Mto wa Mbu was rather dry and hardly populated till the early fifties, when the first steps were made to irrigate the area. Within a few years hundreds of acres of newly cultivable land were created. The news of the fertile lands spread rapidly through the country and from all remote corners people came to try their luck. Fruits and vegetables from all over Tanzania were introduced in the area. Within a few decades the dry and empty plains were turned into a green semi-urban centre.
The rapid population growth also turned Mto wa Mbu in a melting pot of cultures. Nowhere else in Tanzania have so many different tribes gathered in such a small area. Many people have still kept their traditions. The various traditional modes of production stand as an example of this cultural diversity. In the little town Chagga people are producing their banana beer, a farmer from Kigoma makes palm oil from palm trees that he brought from the shores of Lake Tanganyika, the Sandawe are making bow and arrow for hunting on smaller game and the Rangi are using the papyrus from the lakes and rivers for making the most beautiful mats and baskets. On the surrounding plains Maasai families live in traditional bomas and the warriors wander with their cattle looking for pasture and water.