Arusha, also known as “A” Town by the locals, is situated at the foot of Mount Meru, Africa’s 5th highest mountain. The altitude gives the city a pleasant climate and lush green environment.
Arusha is not a particularly attractive city in itself and is regarded by many visitors as little more than a necessary stopover before their safari starts in earnest. However, the natural charm of the Tanzanians and the buzz of a fast-growing city mean that Arusha has plenty to offer for those who are prepared to see beyond their air-conditioned safari trucks and satellite-TV equipped hotel rooms.
Arusha is home to the UNICTR, the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. It’s also the site of the signing of the Arusha Declaration. In many ways Arusha is a more honest African City than many, developing as it is without affecting to look ‘western’, with architecture that shows how the city has grown through the years without apology for the juxtaposition of colonial buildings, 60’s futurist public blocks and modern builds with hand built buildings thrown up out of need and functioning perfectly as the building blocks of the irrepressible modern African trading city.
When you’re-visiting Arusha in Tanzania you definitely have to go on safari, In fact the starting point of most Safaris in the Northern circuit is Arusha. Nearly all the national parks in the northern circuit can be a day trip, apart from the Serengeti.
The nearest park to visit is the Arusha National Park formerly known as Momela Park. Just 80KM from the town center it is a haven for wild animals, though with few big predators, walking safaris and canoe trips at lake Momela are on offer. This is one in a few parks where walking safaris lead you to spectacular sights in particular waterfalls where there you can swim and relax after your walk.
Just 130Km from Arusha town is Manyara national park, famous for the tree-climbing lions. Manyara is a beautiful park to visit as its terrain is very different from the other parks, with lush green during rainy season like a pocket sized jungle.
Slightly further, with just 160 Km of travel from town is Tarangire national park, also knows as the home of the Elephants. Tarangire is more open. It has big steppes with open Savannah broken only by isolated stands of Baobab trees. In Tarangire can you see a lot of elephants and birds of different kinds.
A bit further with just 190 km away from Arusha town is the Ngorongoro conservation area and crater: one of Tanzania’s most celebrated wonders and a UNESCO world heritage site. The crater is 610 meters deep, covering an area of 540 square kilometers. It is another haven to wild life, including the greatest predator population in Africa. The Volcanic crater acts like a natural coral and is jam packed with wildlife, including all the big 5 game animals. This place will not only amaze you with its vast scenery but you have a chance to see the rare and highly endangered black Rhino.
While in Ngorongoro you can choose from a range of activities that include walking, Maasai Boma tour & a visit to cradle of mankind at the Olduvai George.
Day- Hikes to Mount Meru & Kilimanjaro
Arusha is very close to Africa’s highest mountain, Mount Kilimanjaro. Moshi being just 80 Km you can choose to do a day hike at the starting point of Mount Kilimanjaro.
Your safari company can arrange for you to take a break from the animals and see some tribes in the area. 3 hours drive to the campsite meant that we were within 45 minutes drive of 2 tribes. Most people stop off to see the Massai tribe villages near to the Ngorongoro Crater, however, I wanted to see some of the more rare tribes. The Togo tribe live just outside a small mountain village. They use material they find to make metal objects to sell such as arrowheads and jewelry. The family of 8 lived in a small compound made of several small straw huts. The village was nice, but had a feeling of being ‘set-up’ to please the tourists. The Hadzabe tribe are much more remote and cut off. They are hunter-gatherers still and move around to get food. They live in small camps but their homes are just a few leaves and twigs, not really able to call it a house. We met the tribe at 6am and joined them on their hunt with arrows. 3 hours later, nothing had been killed, but they still let us use their arrows and offered us a 3 day old porcupine to eat. I passed.
Tribes (A day with the locals…)
by boltonian Written Aug 10, 2010
In Tanzania’s lush northern interior, within an amphitheater of world famous views of Kilimanjaro, Mount Meru and the Maasai Steppe, one thousand acres has been developed into the Kilimanjaro Golf and Wildlife Estate; affectionately known locally as ‘KiliGolf’ by residents and locals. Located some 1,400 metres above sea level, Kiligolf offers outstanding views of Mount Kilimanjaro, of Mount Meru (the country’s second highest peak) and the Maasai Steppe. It is these three vistas that make the estate so unique. The course at Kilimanjaro Golf and Wildlife Estate is the first championship layout in Tanzania. The par for the golf course is 72.
Visitors are welcome to The Arusha Gymkhana Club, where one can take advantage of the facilities that are on offer: golf, tennis, snooker, swimming pool and gym. Arusha Gymkhana Club is a private members sports club that provides sports and social facilities to the community of Arusha as well as members of their families. Many local, national and international sporting events are held from time to time, attracting a large number of business and consumer oriented visitors. The club also boasts a challenging 9-hole golf course kept in excellent condition, which promises a good golfing experience. We also have a fully functional clubhouse.
MESERANI SNAKE PARK
The snake park is a special treasure of Arusha, a wonderful source of enjoyment and relaxation for locals and foreign visitors.
25k from Arusha and on the way to Ngorongoro and Manyara, Snake Park provides various activities, take a guided tour and learn about some of the most dangerous snakes in the world, from the Black and Green Mamba, Egyptian Cobra, Puff Adders and many more. Capture your special moment and hold a real live snake – they’re surprisingly friendly! Check out the 10 foot crocodiles at feeding time and stroke a baby crocodile.
At snake Park you can also visit the Maasai Cultural Museum, jump on a camel and go on safari to the local Maasai village. Meserani Snake Park runs a free education centre for Maasai children and operates a free medical clinic for local people
After all your activities, relax and enjoy a fully equipped campsite and barbecue area and a fully stocked bar.
A VIST TO THE OLD BOMA MUSEUM
In 1899 the Germans began construction of a strong fortification, a ‘boma’, which they forced the Warusha to build. Maasai in Arusha still remember the humiliation of this task: the new colonists took pleasure in riding around on the backs of the Warusha and Maasai men, egging them on with whips. One Maasai recorded the growing resentment at this form of transport in his memoirs. He was particularly enraged by an unusually heavy cargo; passing the river with his charge set heavily across his back, his patience snapped and he tossed his ‘master’ into the water. Fearing the consequences, many Maasai went into hiding in the bush, until a Maasai chief was sent to find them.The chief explained to the mutinous group that he was acting as a mediator, and that if the group returned to work all would be forgiven. The runaways marched back into the new town in a column of about 400 men; as they strode down Boma Road, the entire troop was gunned down in the street – one of history’s many warnings never to trust a ‘safe conduct’. It is said that the ‘mediator’ was promptly promoted. The bloodstained fort was completed in 1900 and became a barracks for 150 Nubian soldiers, later being made the regional government offices until 1934. when it was turned into the Arusha Museum of Natural History.
HISTORICAL SITES, ENGARUKA & OLDUVAI GORGE
Engaruka, situated 63 km north of Mto wa Mbu, on the road to Oldonyo Lengai and Lake Natron lies at the foot of the Rift Valley escarpment. It is an important historic site as some 500 years ago, a farming community of several thousand people chose to develop and indigenous irrigation and cultivation system here. For unknown reasons, the farmers left Engaruka around 1700, but the ruins talk volumes about the highly specialized agricultural economy.
The people of Engaruka offer visitors the following attractions:
– A guided visit to one of the oldest African irrigation systems
– A visit to the Maasai cattle market
– A visit to a Maasai Boma
– Walking safaris in an area of outstanding beauty
– A look at the local community life.
There are various guided tour options:
Half day tours
- Visit to the ruined city you can see the remnants of the ruined city of Engaruka. The guide will help you to identify old graves, house walls, irrigation canals and terraces, and explain the various theories about the rise and fall of the farming community. Enjoy en-route, the colourful birds and butterflies as well as remnants of the German colonial era.
- Engaruka farming tour from the ruins, walk to the village of Engaruka, en-route visit several farms and learn about various farming and irrigation methods. The guide will throw light on the tribal background of the village. On the way back, visit the market area located in the shade of an Africa tulip tree and a huge mkuyu tree.
- Rift Valley escarpment tour from the ruined city, narrow footpaths wind up the Rift Valley escarpment. Climb the escarpment guided by a Maasai warrior, who will help you spot many colourful birds and show you trees and plants that the Maasai use for making food and medicines.
- One day tour: Kerimasi mountain climb
North of Engaruka is the green mountain of Kerimasi. The climb takes three to four hours from the foot to the summit. From the top, you see impressive views of Oldoinyo Lengai, Lake Natron, the Ngorongoro highlands and the mountains of Kitumbeine and Gelai. The descent takes about two hours.
- Two day tour: Hike to Oldoinyo Lengai
Conquer Oldoinyo Lengai or ‘the mountain of God’ in Maasai parlance. On the first day, you climb Kerimasi Mountain and descend on the north side to camp at the foot of Oldoinyo Lengai, the only active volcano in Tanzania. On the morning of the second day, start the 4-5 hour climb to the top, where you can even enter the crater to watch the volcanic activity. The descent takes about 2 1/2 hours.
Getting there: From Arusha, take a bus to Mto wa Mbu, In the late afternoon, 4 x 4 cars drive you down the 63km to Engaruka which takes roughly 4 hours. (Income from tourist visits will be used to improve the local primary school and for conservation of the ruined city).
VISIT THE COLOURFUL BUSY BUZZING MARKET
For atmosphere, you can’t beat Arusha’s Central Market (between Somali and Sokoine rds.). Most stalls cater to locals, but you will unearth a few gems, including an Indian-owned shop that sells Maasai blankets to the Maasai at half the price you will pay anywhere else. (Heading north toward the market from Sokoine Rd., it’s next to the only bicycle shop.) Do be aware that the area is notorious for pickpockets so try to visit with a local guide/driver and make use of Safariland Cottages secure storage to carry only the cash you need.
CULTURAL HERITAGE & ART GALLERY
Cultural Heritage is a unique cultural centre on the outskirts of Arusha. They have curio shops, a jewellery boutique, a tanzanite and precious stone counter, a restaurant, bargain centre and an outstanding commercial art gallery.
There are a vast array of ornaments, jewellery, antiques and local crafts to cater for any budget. High quality clothing, textiles, accessories, books and spices can also be found onsite at Oneway and the Spice Centre.
Discover exquisite precious and semi-precious stones including rubies, emeralds, tsavorite, diamonds, sapphires, opals and the most highly treasured – tanzanite, a rare blue/violet stone found only in Tanzania. Purchase loose stones, select from ranges of hand made jewellery or work with jewellers and designers to create your own unique piece.
The only arts & antique collection of its kind in Africa, ranging from African antiques to contemporary painting and sculpture you will be dazzled by an assembly of art and artefacts.
Tanzanite: “1,000 times rarer than diamonds” and unique to Tanzania. There are many shops selling these brilliant blue gemstones in Arusha, but the Tanzanite Experience also offers you the chance to learn bit a more about its history and how it was formed.
Buying tanzanite here ensures that you get the best quality and that it has been properly graded and certified. Prices are reasonable too, and there is a dazzling array of stones and jewellery to choose from, ethically sourced directly from their own mine, the world’s largest supplier of tanzanite. It’s an excellent way to spend an hour in Arusha and maybe pick up one of the rarest gemstones in the world.
Shanga Shangaa, meaning “Beads Amazing”, in Swahili, is a small business employing 42 disabled, mute or deaf people based near Arusha in Tanzania. The company produces a range of beautiful necklaces made from beads and a selection of silk, kanga, chiffon and voile coloured fabrics.
The company began producing Shanga necklaces for a Christmas fair in Arusha in 2006. The success of the necklaces resulted in a more serious and sustainable operation being developed which now supplys retail outlets across Tanzania.
“You can experience Shanga by visiting our River House location set adjacent to Burka Coffee Estate; Arusha’s oldest, and arguably most beautiful, coffee plantation. During your visit, you may have a tour of our Shanga Shangaa workshop, browse uniquely crafted housewares made by our staff in the original Shanga Shop, or simply relax over a cappuccino in our lush garden setting.
The River House Restaurant offers a healthy array of lunch options in our open-air garden pagodas, overlooking the Burka Springs that runs through the coffee estate. The River House Restaurant is open 7 days a week from 9:30am until 4:30pm with lunch being served from 11:30am until 2:30pm daily. We kindly request that you make a reservation for lunch prior to arrival. Workshop tours and beverages in the garden are available daily without reservation during our hours of operation.”
Legendary Spa offers a unique experience of complete relaxation and well-being. Enjoy professional treatments at the foot of Mount Meru, in the scenic surrounds of The Selian Coffee Plantation.
Situated at The Legendary Lodge amongst coffee bushes the spa offers the following treatments:
Only the highest quality products are used and all treatments are done by professional beauty therapists.
As well as enjoying a soothing massage or facial at spa, one can work out at the nearby recreation centre with a full gym, steam room, pool, tennis and squash courts, and running track. Yoga classes are also available and private sessions may be arranged.
ARUSHA DECLARATION MUSEUM
The Arusha Declaration Museum is located in the Kaloleni area in Arusha town. It is the first ever museum in the Arusha region and in the northern tourist circuit. The Museum is housed in the historical building which until 1967 was used as the social welfare hall for the people of the Kaloleni area. This museum was opened to the public in 1977 and it mainly exhibits the political history of our nation. When visiting this museum you will see depiction of the formulation of self-reliance policy, the struggle for independence, the colonial history, and the political development of Tanzania.
City Walk in Arusha
On this trip, you will get an idea of life in the colourful city of Arusha. People of many different tribes and religions live together in Arusha mostly attracted by economic reasons and the booming economy. The guide will show you daily life, habits and values of normal modern Tanzanians. Depending on your personal interests, you will visit for instance, colonial buildings like the whitewashed German Boma, the Arusha International Conference Centre (AICC). You have also other interesting places like monuments, Mosques, live markets, cemeteries, schools, orphanage centres, hospitals, and blacksmiths, the clock tower (the Centre point between Cape Town and Cairo by distance) among many other attractions.
A walk to the Meru -Waterfalls
This walk will take you through the Mount Meru area, walking through lush green forest to Sanawari village. Here there is a natural swimming pool and tourists enjoy swimming in it’s cool water. Walkers are advised to bring a small lunch box ,swimming clothes and also a raincoat because it can rain anytime. Please note that this tour carries a 5000tsh pp. (VDF) Village development fee.
Emanating from within the earth, the geo-thermally warmed water is constantly renewed and is therefore very fresh, clear and clean. Here guests can have a swim in the warm water, or just have a lovely walk around the bowed fig trees surrounded with colourful birds and later relax with a picnic lunch and cold drinks. There is something magical about Maji moto – not only because of its breathtaking beauty but the fact that it boldly contradicts everything we associate with the African bush.
Ee Yeyyo BOMA (Cultural tour in Arusha)
This can be a full day or a half-day program. Guests will experience WaMeru hospitality, share their food and learn some of their traditional language. One can take a walking tour around the Meru land with different sceneries, take part in handcraft making with a traditional women’s group and join in their song and dance (Mbere). Guests can listen to WaMeru stories, riddles and sayings from a storyteller or join in the day-to-day activities of the locals to have a better feel of how they live. Our guests enjoy learning the names and uses of medical plants, shrubs and trees as used by WaMeru.
LAKE DULUTI (Arusha)
Lake Duluti is a small crater lake to the east of Arusha town. There are two possible options on this excursion. Guests can either take a guided-walk around the lake with beautiful sceneries surrounded by birds, monkeys and other local fauna or opt for the popular choice cannoning across the lake. Later in the evening guests can walk back to Duluti Lodge to enjoy a cold drink by the lake and gaze at the flaming colours of the African sunset.
TOUR OF ARUSHA COFFEE PLANTATION
Arusha has some of the largest coffee plantations in east Africa: a coffee lover’s paradise. Guest can have a 1 to 2 hour walking tour in one of the coffee plantations, viewing the scenery, smelling the aromas and see how the coffee is harvested and processed. Later guests relax in one of the plantations retreats and have a cup of coffee picked right from the farms or have a relaxing massage at the coffee lodge. This has become a popular choice activity especially for the expats living or working in Tanzania.
Visit a traditional Maasai Boma (village)
Local transport (daladala) takes you in about 1 hour and 45 minutes from Arusha to Monduli juu (upper Monduli), 50km. North West of Arusha. From there is a short distance to Emairete where the tour starts. Emairete consists of a wonderful crater where in former times; only the cattle belonging to the medicine man were allowed to graze. The Maasai guide will show you around, and then walk uphill to the boma of midwife, mama Oletiambuti. She will explain all about the traditional Maasai way of living and about daily activities: the importance of cattle to a Maasai, the greetings, behaviours, traditional medicine among others. Afterwards, you will walk around Emairete village, see local Maasai in their daily activities, walk through some natural trails in the area and visit a local bar in Emairete market where you can taste a locally brewed beer while waiting for transport back to Arusha.
Nambala village trip
Take ‘daladala’ (collective taxi/minibus) to the village of Nambala and enjoy the quiet village life.
Your guide will lead you on the small village paths to the little well. Walking through the fields you will reach the small houses of farming families and the wazees (elders) of the village will be grateful to welcome you in their houses. Visit the batik and if you ask in advance, the village traditional dance group ‘Uwana’ dances some traditional dances for and with you. To finish your trip, enjoy a cool drink in the lively village bar to Tengeru, or take the turnoff to go to Nambala village. On Wednesdays and Saturdays, a colourful market is taking place there.