Right at the foot of Mount Meru lies the quiet town of Arusha. A-Town as refered to by locals is also known as the safari capital. The famous mid point from Cape Town to Cairo. Arusha is always bustling with tourists, travellers and hikers as it is also a few kilometers from Mount Kilimanjaro. Hikers choose to stay in Arusha before and after the hike as it has all the needed ingredients to make your stay a comfortable and a memorable one.
How to get there
There are two airports in Arusha, (Arusha Airport and Kilimanjaro International Airport) responsible for the scores of people that fly into the town from different parts of the world. It also caters for those moving between Dar es Salam and Zanzibar. South Africans travelling to Arusha can choose from the main airlines that operate there. These include, Air Kenya, Qatar, Ethiopian Airlines, Turkish Airlines and Rwanda Air. There is also an option a charted flight to tourist destinations like Serous and Mikumi.
Where to stay
Arusha has a variety of accommodation, from hostels to lavish hotels which can be attributed to the type of visitors the town attracts. As in any other city, it is better to book in advance and always try and stay away from the peak season which is also the hiking season. This means accommodation in Arusha becomes a bit expensive because of the demand during the peak season. Four Points by Sheraton, The Palace, Kibo and Arusha hotels are the ones recommended for hotel and comfort lovers. On the other hand there are loads of other accommodation options such as Meru House Inn that can also be explored.
Arusha by virtue of it being at the centre of all the tourists areas in Tanzania has a huge contingent of tourists and is always buzzing, some leaving and some coming while some are leaving to different areas. Because the people of Arusha get to meet the different types of people they have taken on a very welcoming approach to the visitors. The town has a cocktail of many Kenyan tribes and this makes it rich with history and a paradise for tourists and travellers to dig into. Visitors can partake in a lot of cultural tours to learn more about the people of Arusha.
In every City there is always a gap that thieves can always spot, people just need to be very vigilant. When we were in Arusha we were hustled by some man that we later learned had been following us for quite some time. He and his cronies made us pay for entering a free monument. He wanted 50 Tanzania shillings but we only gave him 10 just to get him off our faces. Also take extra care with your belongings, leave all valuables at the hotel and carry as little cash as possible. Also avoid walking alone at night, especially women. However, that is standard for most cities universally, this is not by anyway unique to Arusha.
Where to eat
Arusha not only boasts a variety of restaurants, the cuisine choice is even larger and accommodating to all types of pockets, deep or shallow. AfriCafe makes the meanest freshly baked goodies, dig and Olive restaurant and Paradise Hotel have very enticing menus. You can also get Chinese and Indian cuisine at Khan’s Barbeque and Chinese whispers, respectively. For local street food, one could go to the Arusha Central market where they will get a variety of freshly prepared food.
What to do in Arusha
Visit the Clock Tower
This Tower has been one of the best attractions of Arusha for decades. It is said to be at the center point of the Cape to Cairo route and also the centre of Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania (the triangle). Tourists and locals take nice pictures there too.
This small town is a link to a lot of safari routes. It is a gateway to the most popular safari hubs. Amongst others, these include: Serengeti, Kilimanjaro, Manyara and Ngorongoro.
Yet another spectacular master piece for adventure lovers. This Mountain can be spotted from the centre of Arusha. Take a hike on this Mountain and enjoy the wonderful views of the City. What you don’t know about Mount Meru is that it is referred to as Mount Kenya from the Kenyan side (it is one Mountain).
Cultural, Tanzanite Mines and Museum Tours
If you are based in Arusha, you are at the centre of it all as there are daily tours to visit any of the 120 tribes found in Tanzania. While on the discovery path, find out more about the origins of the Tanzanite and how its mining came about, by taking a short drive to the Tanzanite Museum and the Tanzanite Meralani.
Arusha National Park
At this park you get to experience walking Safari, marvel on the beauty of the Mt Meru, Mt Kilimanjaro, Ngorongoro Crater and Momella lake. It also boasts a variety of game and bird species.
When they say dynamites come in small packages they are referring to this small town of Arusha. To add on to its tittle the ‘Safari Capital, it can easily be dubbed the adventure capital as safari is just one of the activities that can be enjoyed from Arusha. If you have not been to Arusha then you need to rethink your Tanzanian itenerary as this town is your gateway to a host of unique adventures.
Hope to see it on your bucket list soon 😉 #khenkethamzansi