Arusha, the fourth biggest town in Tanzania offers more than a conducive, almost predictable climate; it is the safari capital of northern Tanzania, and acts as the gateway to Mt Meru and Kilimambogo, expeditions to Arusha and Tarangire National Parks, wild safaris in Serengeti as well as experiencing Lake Manyara and the enchanting Maasai culture. The town, originally built in the 1900s as a German garrison has since grown to catch up with other popular Tanzanian cities, and now hosts the East Africa Community Headquarters as well as the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.
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Apart from serving as a gateway to most of northern Tanzania’s tourism circuit, Arusha in itself is a multi-faceted city with every contradiction that comes with a rising urban center. The architecture depicts a somehow balanced mélange of colonial, western and local that seem to have long reached a non-written consensus on co-existence. The people are warm and friendly, and whatever the town lacks in infrastructure, it does compensate in its camaraderie and welcoming weather.
Hiking Mount Meru
Mount Meru is Africa’s fifth highest mountain at 4,565 meters and renown for charming views and postcard photography for those bold enough to scale the volcanic rocks to the summit. Geography explains the mystique of the intriguing horseshoe shape as stemming from a massive eruption thousands of years ago, leaving a crater in the middle of the once Kilimanjaro-sized giant. This hike can take 3-4 days depending on one’s fitness and ability to acclimatize.
Arusha National Park
Arusha National Park is one of the smaller parks in Tanzania, good or bad thing? I’d say it’s an advantage for the Safari enthusiast with limited time and big heart for game! The one-day trip makes for a hustle-free rendezvous with buffaloes, elephants, primates, and many more. Bird watchers will be entertained as well. The topography is just as rewarding with a thick tropical forest, ice-cold turquoise lakes and the popular Ngurdoto crater, all making beautiful picnic sites.
Shanga Shangaa – Africa House
This is the ultimate, stop, shop and snack hot spot in Arusha. The name is a fair translation to mean ‘amazing necklace’ an item no shopper will leave Shanga Shangaa without. This fantastic place was set up to help people with special abilities earn a living as well as morally support each other. Every product is made of recycled materials, glass, beads and stones giving birth to an authentic and exquisite collection. There’s a café that serves delicious local and Swahili cuisine, you can also wine and dine on the lovely lawns forming a perfect way for a leisurely spent afternoon.
From Chinese dumplings to Swahili mahamri and Italian Pizzas, Arusha does not disappoint. Most of the restaurants are centrally located in the business district with just a few locations in the residential. Njiro road as well as Moshono area are popular for night clubs, but as an experienced club hopper, the locals know best; make friends, and test the cues!
The Tanzanite Experience is a must-go zone for best cut stones and some extensive crash-course on the precious pebble. The shop by Maasai Women Development Organization (MWEDO) is great for high quality beadwork. Kase on Boma road has good maps and books on National Parks and Heritage, for the self-caterer, Soko Kuu will do great favors to your kitchen!
Whether on a budget-conscious trip, or seeking luxury on the slopes of Mighty Mount Kilimanjaro, Arusha has great considerations for your ledger books! Log on to Jovago-Arusha-Hotels for all your accommodation needs.
Arusha’s clock tower is believed to mark the midpoint between Cairo and Cape Town-there is a huge deal of disputing bar talk as well as Geographical evidence. Not to worry though, this vibe keeps the locals going, and the region happy to take directions from one of Africa’s most popular clock tower!
Safety: Whether in London, Libreville, Amsterdam or Arusha, being street smart is critical for every newbie. Walk confidently, avoid unnecessary crowds, negotiate like a native and don’t display expensive jewelry, cameras and accessories downtown. You’ll be fine.
Money: Tanzanian Shilling, All International Credit Card (Visa, MasterCard) are accepted in the ATM.
Exchange Rate: http://www.xe.com/currency/tzs-tanzanian-shilling
Country Code: +255
Main Airport: Arusha is served by two main airports; Kilimanjaro International Airport and Arusha Municipal Airport. The former has a good number of international flights, while the latter is mostly domestic.
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