Travel guide to Arusha in Tanzania

Arusha is a city of around 400,000 people in Northeast Tanzania, East Africa. Arusha is Tanzania’s entrance to the northern circuit of heavenly national parks and many remarkable safaris.

The town offers a nice pause from the rigors of life on the African road – it has beautiful places to stay and eat. It is exceptionally green and enjoys temperate weather yearlong, thanks to its 1300m altitude and its position near the foot of Mount Meru.

As the safari capital of North Tanzania, though, Arusha is also where you will most probably find touts offering souvenirs, safaris, and all manner of deals, some original, many of them not. Their main haunts are along Boma Rd and the bus stations. The town’s downtown area and the principal road towards Dodoma are boisterous and crowded with traffic.

How to reach Arusha?

You can reach Arusha by taking a flight to Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO IATA) (around min from the city center).

It has frequent flights to Amsterdam with KLM and Zanzibar, Addis Ababa, Dar es Salaam, and Nairobi. A taxi ride costs US$50, but many airlines run a free shuttle service.  

You can take one of the buses. Arusha is a central transport hub and has connections throughout the nation. Some companies offer first-class tickets, which are somewhat more comfortable.

The crowded interior of an Arusha minibus

The primary mode of public transport is “daladala,” the omnipresent minibusses that utilize their trade on town’s main routes. They are very economical. The government controls all pricing of transportation in Tanzania. Prices are posted on the sides of the daladala for each block or stop covered. You are not required to pay above that price. 

Here are places to visit in Arusha

Elephants as seen from a safari truck
  • Natural History Museum: Inside the old fortified compound (German boma), this museum was built in 1900 and has three parts. The best is the wing devoted to human evolution since much of what we know about the subject came from fossils excavated in Tanzania. There are also exhibits on insects, wildlife photos, Arusha’s history during the German colonial era, and mounts.
  • Meserani Snake Park: The compilation of snakes and other lizards here is the main attraction, but there’s also a sentimental yet educational Maasai cultural museum with mock-ups of bush life and home, which you’ll tour with a Maasai warrior. You can also take a 45-minute camel ride to a Maasai village. It’s 27km west of Arusha along the Dodoma road. Dalla-Dallas to Monduli can cut you at the gate.
  • Arusha Declaration Museum: Despite the encouraging subject matter – the museum honors the groundbreaking 1967 declaration by then-president Julius Nyerere calling for African socialism self-reliance and familyhood (ujamaa) – explore photos from the colonial era and a few ethnographic artifacts. When newly independent African countries were striving for direction, the Arusha Declaration took the continent by storm.
  • Arusha National Park: Arusha National Park has a broad variety of wildlife. Despite being a small park animals include Cape buffalo, giraffe, warthog, zebra, the blue monkey, flamingo, elephant, the black-and-white colobus monkey, and lion. Leopards are present, but rarely seen. Birdlife in the forest is beautiful, with many wild species more easily seen here than elsewhere on the tourist route – Bar-tailed trogon and Narina trogon are both highlights for visiting birders, whilst the range of starling species provide somewhat less gaudy interest.

What to eat at Arusha?

A typical lunch of chicken and potatoes

Arusha has a wide variety of restaurants, with a predominance of Indian cuisine. As a rule of thumb, it is the favorite food, thanks to the town’s wonderful sub-continental community. Arusha has many attractive bars and eateries. There are uncountable local bars that are usually welcoming to courageous foreigners. For nightclubs, the Colobus Club, Maasai Camp, Velocity, Polygon Triangle, and Triple A, 777 are popular with foreigners.

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