Beautifully nested on the foot of Mt Meru and near Kilimanjaro, the highest African peak is the Geneva of Africa, called Arusha. With a population of 416,442 plus 323,198 in the surrounding Arusha Districts, Arusha serves as a gateway to the Northern Safari Circuit. Besides serving as a hub, Arusha has a list of interesting to-dos up its sleeves.
This short guide is for those travelers who want to make the most of their limited time in Arusha and venture beyond the leafy gardens of their overnight lodges. Of course, we won’t judge you if all you want to do after a long-haul flight or exciting road safari is simply flop next to the pool! But many travelers want to see a little more of Africa, so read on to see what Arusha has to offer.
Benson Safaris Tanzania gladly offers city tours that will get you the most out of your Tanzanian safari. Here are some of the interesting things you can do.
A good place to shop is the Maasai Market, which is packed full of colorful clothes, beads, jewelry, paintings, and all sorts of other goodies. This is the perfect place to do your souvenir shopping. A useful tip with all markets in Africa is to start at the back, with the traders furthest from the entrance: they see the fewest shoppers and so are grateful for your custom and may be more open to striking a really good bulk deal or ‘umbrella price’ if you buy more than one item.
Further afield, the Cultural Heritage Centre showcases African artists and is a collection of galleries and boutiques in Arusha’s most eclectic-looking building. There are beautiful wildlife sculptures on the grounds and hundreds of mementos from you to choose from.
Interested in Tanzanite, a rare gemstone that is only mined in Tanzania, and yes Arusha is its home. Visit The Tanzanite Experience Museums will give you a chance to delve deep into history and enjoy one of the main attractions in Arusha. It is an exciting journey leading you right into this precious gemstone’s heart.
Through a guided tour, visitors understand why Tanzanite is not only so rare and sought after, the complexities involved with its mining, the skills involved in cutting and polishing as well as enjoy the stories and myths surrounding the gemstone.
Looking for more action in Arusha? No problem. You can also go canoeing and mountain biking at Lake Duluti, a classic crater lake formed as volcanoes along the Rift Valley leaving this part of the world studded with dimples that have filled with fresh water over the millennia since. Duluti is only a short drive from Arusha city center – be sure to look out for aquatic birds like pelicans and flamingos.
If you’re a keen golfer, then the Kili golf villas on 1,040 acres of prime African bushland, nestled between Mt Kilimanjaro and Mt Meru, are bound to please you. To the south stretches the Maasai Steppe and the great ridges of the ancient Eastern Arc chain: the Pare, Usambara, and Blue Mountains, all of which are visible from the estate will do it for you.
Arusha city center has beautifully designed cafes with some of the best coffee you have ever tasted, It’s also surrounded by coffee plantations, giving you some of the freshest coffee on the planet. Meander with a guide through the fields at Arusha Coffee Lodge to understand how pretty flowers become unassuming brown beans that end up in millions of cups every morning. Stock up on fresh coffee beans to take home and learn about ‘parchment roasting’ and traditional grinding methods using heavy stones.
- The main language is Kiswahili, but many people speak English.
- There are two airports: Arusha Airport (ARK) on the outskirts of town and Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA) about 50 km away.
- Flights to domestic safari destinations and Zanzibar will usually leave from Arusha. If you’re departing Tanzania, you’ll transfer by road or air to KIA to catch your international flight.
- Arusha is the gateway to Tanzania’s Northern Circuit, which includes the Serengeti, Tarangire National Park, and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area.
- There are plenty of ATMs in Arusha to withdraw Tanzanian shillings for your trip. You can also use US dollars for some purchases, but not for small goods in town.