Arusha is well-known for being the safari capital of Tanzania’s northern safari circuit. This includes the Serengeti national park, Ngorongoro, Lake Manyara, Tarangire and more. So, if you decided to visit Arusha, a lot of good things are bound to happen.
It’s noon in Arusha and the streets are flaring with life. Everywhere you look there is action. A businessman rides by on a motorcycle talking on his cell phone and laughing at the same time. A Maasai warrior strolls the other direction wearing traditional red-checkered attire. Across the street you count 35 bananas carried on a woman’s head. You continue walking the streets, receiving smiles from the locals.
Passing a restaurant you smell barbequed chicken and your stomach gurgles. Just as you consider lunch, a young man approaches and shakes your hand. He wants to show you his artwork, gorgeous paintings of a giant volcano. But wait! You’ve seen this image before. Turning around, Mount Meru towers over the city. It’s the same mountain in the painting. You settle on an agreeable price, buy the painting, and walk onward into the bustle.
Welcome to Arusha, center of known safari universe!
Arusha is located in Northern Tanzania and is the second largest city in Tanzania with half a million residents. It’s important to understand Arusha because your safari will start and end here. And though you may not begin to fully appreciate Arusha’s commotion upon arrival, its amenities will be relaxing after days or weeks on the safari circuit.
The 5 Arusha must do’s:
1. The markets
Looking for gifts or fabrics for family and friends? Arusha is a great place to start. Spend a morning at either the Central Market or the Maasai Market for some world-class bargaining. The farmer’s markets are amazing, too.
2. Natural history center
This is by far the best museum in the city. If no travel is complete without a museum visit, look no further. The Natural History Center boasts an excellent exhibit on human evolution, among other things. Tanzania is the geographic center of the human story, so this is pretty powerful!
No place in Arusha warms your heart like Shanga, a nonprofit employing over 70 Tanzanians with disabilities. Each worker performs tasks such as glassblowing, weaving, and textiles. Come meet the talented folks who work here and leave with some memories.
Legend has it, one day a local Masaai saw a bolt lightning strike and turn some nearby stones a magnificent blue, and now we have this: Tanzanite, a blue gemstone “a thousand times rarer than diamonds. Though the more scientific reason has to do more with tectonics and continental uplift than lightning, this much is true: you won’t find Tanzanite native to anywhere else on the planet so you better seek it out while in Tanzania. This ultra-rare (ultra-expensive) gemstone can be found at jewelers and stores in Arusha. The Tanzanite Experience offers the best tour in town. Here’s a short video to learn more: Click Here
5. Day trip: Lake Duluti
Bird and boat lovers take note! Located only 10 miles from Arusha, this lake is set to a gorgeous backdrop of forest and volcanoes. Witness dozens of bird and reptile species, from lounging monitor lizards to nose-diving kingfishers. Renting a canoe is highly recommended.