Iringa in general and Neema Crafts Guest House in particular is a great place to go if you want to experience Tanzania away from the typical safari-and-Zanzibar tourist trail.
I must admit I haven't stayed anywhere else in Iringa (for many years, anyway), but I can't imagine anywhere better than Neema Crafts and Guest House: a central location, helpful and welcoming staff, clean, spacious, very well priced, and with one of the most renowned eateries in Tanzania just outside on the balcony
Neema (Swahili word for "grace") has a great story. It started as an arts workshop designed to employ a couple deaf people in Iringa. In an economy as difficult on employees as Tanzania's, handicapped people are often totally marginalized and unemployable.
It has grown to employing over 80 handicapped people. They have the workshops, the gift shop, the restaurant... and now a guesthouse.
The guesthouse has large, cheery rooms with homemade furniture and mosquito nets.
It is a pleasant place to stay and the location is excellent for walking to the market and central area of Iringa.
I believe the rate was $28 for two, with breakfast. There are lower rates for Tanzanian citizens.
The management of Neema was in transition when we were there. The original founders have moved on and a delightful young couple was just taking charge
The restaurant is good, the workshop continues to produce
neat stuff and employees seem happy.
There was also an internet cafe and free wifi in the cafe. We weren't able to get our netbook to connect to their wifi, so the manager gave me a credit to use in the internet cafe.
I was kind of embarassed when I realized that 30 minutes costs 500 Tsh - roughly $.29...
They let me use
my thumbdrive so I was able to upload blogs and photos after completing them on
Neema provided us with such a pleasant refuge for several days to explore Iringa and to just rest up... nice room, restaurant with a great balcony for writing, reading, enjoying dessert... (no beer, though - church-affiliated... bars nearby) we will always remember Neema with great fondness.
We wouldn't stay anyplace else if we return to Iringa. We also bought
lots of stuff from the gift shop to support their efforts.