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.
Arusha is served by two airports. Kilimanjaro International Airport (IATA: JRO) has regular flights to Amsterdam with KLM, and to Addis Ababa, Dar es Salaam, Zanzibar and Nairobi. Kilimanjaro Airport is approximately 60km (45min) from the city centre. A taxi ride costs USD50 but many airlines run a shuttle service for free or USD10.
Arusha Municipal Airport (ARK) is on the outskirts of the city but only runs domestic flights, mostly to Zanzibar and Dar es Salaam, and charters. air viva offers regular flights between Arusha and Dar es Salaam, Zanzibar and Kilimanjaro.
Visas-on-arrival are available at Kilimanjaro International Airport for USD50, or USD100 for some nationalities.
Arusha can be reached by express coach from Nairobi (Kenya, 6h, daily 08.00 and 14.00 from in front of Parkside Hotel, USD25), Dar es Salaam (12h), and Kampala (Uganda, 17h) with direct services also available from Mwanza, Tanga, and Lushoto. Some companies offer first-class tickets which are slightly more comfortable although it is worth noting that standards are generally comparable with most African bus services. Moshi can be reached in about one hour. There are various shuttle buses between Arusha and Moshi which are more comfortable than coaches.
The main mode of public transport is daladala, the ubiquitous minibuses which ply their trade on all the main routes in town. They are very cheap, TZS400 (USD0.25) is the fixed price for any trip around town, (beware of those who quote more to foreigners). Daladala is very cramped and safety is a serious consideration. Accidents involving daladalas are frequent and usually with serious consequences for the passengers. Pickpocketing has occurred on locals and visitors in close quarters and can happen quickly; store valuables in bags on your lap.
Taxis are plentiful and cheap; make sure to agree on a price before leaving for your destination (expect to pay no more than TZS5,000 for a trip within the city centre, or TZS8,000 for the outskirts, at any time of the day).
Car hire is possible; most companies prefer to provide their own drivers.
Climb Mount Meru (4,667m). It can be done in 2-4 days, depending on your physical condition. You are not required to take guides and porters up Mount Meru, but you must be escorted by armed rangers. Temperatures can be freezing, so prepare warm clothing and sleeping bags.
Comfortable and enjoyable climbing of Mount Meru would need a professional mountain guide in addition to armed rangers. The role of mountain climbing guide is to provide information about Mount Meru like weather, wild animals available, birds and to support when summiting at Mount Meru. The guide will also guide on acclimatization, altitude sickness and make sure food is prepared. Porters will also be helpful to carry food and support materials.
Most mountain guides and porters are employed by local tour operators, so your best bet is to search out a reputable tour operator and be put in touch with a suitable guide that way.
Other sight seeing places and things to do include are wildlife safari tours to Arusha National park located at slopes of Mount meru. Camel safaris is done at slopes of Mount Meru at Maasai village. Camel safaris offer great opportunity for wildlife safaris, masai culture tour and adventures. At the slope of Mount meru, Kilimanjaro is visible in clear days without clouds
Tanzania Tourist Board can arrange cultural excursions to nearby villages for TZS15,000-50,000. These cultural tourism visits can be some of the most rewarding parts of a trip to East Africa, and the human (cultural) element involved complements an animal-centric safari to the game parks. Some cultural tourism programs (Ilkiding'a, Ng'iresi) are within an hour's hike of Arusha. Several others are within an hour's drive (Monduli Juu, Longido, Mulala, Tengeru, Ilkurot, Oldonyo Sambu). They are great opportunities to learn about the Maasai and Meru tribes who live nearby, pastoralism, agriculture, stories & legends, local economies. There are several good hikes around Mt. Meru, including some beautiful waterfalls. Longido has camel safaris. They are flexible in nature, meaning you can arrange an hour-long visit or a day-long one. Some sites have lodging or camping.
Keep in mind your guide may ask for donations to a charity, school or orphanage. Some dishonest guides might pocket the money, so it is advisable to give money directly to a reputable charity. The guide will give you that information.
Century Cinema has movies for TZS5,000-7,000 (USD3-5). It is part of a modern complex on Njiro Rd, which also houses modern and upmarket restaurants including popular Indian restaurant "Khan's", steak outlet "McMoody's" and serving Ethiopian, Tanzanian, European and other cuisines is a restaurant "Spice Retreat". Njiro Rd is not safe to walk on at night, so get to the complex by another form of transport rather than by foot. A taxi to/from the town centre shouldn't cost more than TZS4,000 (USD3).
Definitely something to try, if you can afford it. There are many types of trips for many budgets; usually the pricier ones get you out farther into the Serengeti and the Ngorogongoro Crater, to places that are a little less touched by man. The less expensive excursions to reserves and parks are specialized, of a shorter duration, and worthwhile. If there's one trip that will change your perspective on life, it's an African safari.
Not all tour guides are knowledgeable on all topics. A field guide to your favourite pursuit, such as birding, which is popular with visitors, is a worthwhile idea.
Beware of paying more than market prices, you will still be offered the same accommodation as the person who is paying the regular price.
The markets in the centre of town are not to be missed. Bargaining is required, meaning prices will range from dirt-cheap to tourist-expensive, depending on the goods and whether or not you pay attention.
You can find almost anything at these markets, from food to clothing to little trinkets to take home to friends and family. The batik and silk-screened cloths in bright colours are highly recommended. They're usually sold just as bolts of cut cloth, but you can do pretty much anything with them when you get home. Also, the Kikoys that the women of Tanzania wear make wonderful and original wrap skirts.
Maasai women artisans make beautiful hand-beaded jewellery that they sell to tourists, frequently to pay for their children's schooling. If you come across this you should definitely purchase a few items, as they are extremely beautiful and make wonderful, unique gifts.
The Maasai market is a one stop shopping area for handicrafts made by local Tanzanians. You get to buy various handicrafts made of ebony, redwood, and various types of paintings made by local artisans. Bargaining is expected here, and prices may vary greatly depending upon that.
Arusha has a wide variety of restaurants and informal eating places, with a predominance of Indian cuisine. Meals range from less than US$ 1 for street fare to US$15 for main courses at the high-end hotels.
A typical lunch of chicken and potatoes
Africafe Coffee House, Old Boma Rd (near to the Clock tower). 8AM-8PM. Stylish cafe, good coffee specialties, delicious pastries like carrot cake and muffins, breakfast, burgers, salads. Despite the name, they serve real coffee and no Africafe instant coffee. Sometimes there is WiFi.From TZS2,500. edit
Alberos Treehouse, Haile Selassie Rd (Two blocks east of clocktower off Nyerere Rd), ☎ +255 653 575 507. 11am - 11pm. Italian pizza and pasta with barbecue on the weekends. Pizza delivery service is available every day.from TZS10000. edit
Bay Leaf, 102 Vijana Rd. Elegant European style restaurant with absolutely delicious, though rather pricey dishes. You can sit inside or in the garden.From TZS20,000. edit
Big Bite, Swahili Rd, ☎ +255 754311474. High end Indian restaurant that has been in Arusha for more then 20 years. Excellent food. They also do takeway/take-out and free delivery. Owners are very friendly and helpful.TZS10,000 (USD3.75)/=. edit
Cafe Bamboo Restaurant. Higher end cafe/restaurant from a local standpoint, but inexpensive for many foreign travelers. Snacks such as samosas, chips and kebabs. Also serves western, Indian and traditional African dishes. Popular with tourists.edit
Chinese Dragon. A good place for Chinese food in Arusha, moderately priced. 10,000-15,000. edit
Khan's Chicken on the Bonnet. Pakistani BBQ, includes chicken, beef, mutton, assorted salads, and nan. Arguably best BBQ in town (rivals with Nick's Pub BBQ in Njiro). Two locations, one in town centre which serves as a car repair shop by day and BBQ venue by night, newer location at cinema in Njiro.TZS4,500-9,000 (USD3-7)/person. edit
L'Oasis Lodge, Close to idara ya maji, Sekei Arusha (access via Moshi/Nairobi Rd.), ☎ +255 757 557 802 (email@example.com), . 7am - late. Nachos, cold drinks in the garden or by the pool. No reservations needed for groups less than 10.edit
The Lively Lady Bar & Grill, (opposite the Railway station, down the road with Arusha Backpacker's on the corner), ☎ +255 713 650777 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . 5PM-12 midnight, 6 days a week, (closed on Sundays). A small and funky rock-bar in the middle of town. Good European/Indian style kitchen, large collection of drinks and good rock-music to spice up your evening.edit
McMoody's. 7AM-10PM, 7 days a week. Has a little bit of everything in a fast-food setting right in the centre of town. They also have a branch in the complex in Njiro Rd near the cinema. Breakfast including eggs, bread and coffee/tea is TZS1,400 (USD1). edit
Onsea House Restaurant, ☎ +255 787 112 498. Renowned as best French/Belgian restaurant in East Africa. Recommended for a romantic candle light dinner or special celebration. Reservations recommended.edit
Shanga River House (email@example.com), POB 15938, Dodoma Rd (on Dodoma Road to Arusha Airport), ☎ +255 689759067 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . 9:30-4:30. 'email@example.com - firstname.lastname@example.org' Shanga is located on Tanzania's oldest coffee estate, in Arusha, next to Tanapa. Ask about the Pink Balloon project. This is a friendly and delightful place to visit - your heart may be warmed by the warmth of the manner of the staff. Shanga employs 50 differently abled Tanzanian people in workshops where they recycle glass, aluminum, paper and tires into unique, quality creative products. Shanga features the River House Restaurant and the Shanga Shop which offers unique and creative gifts at good prices. River House Restaurant is open 9:30 AM to 4:30 PM; lunch is by reservation only. The home grown healthy lunches are served in garden pagodas near the river. Coffee and tours are available before and after lunch. It is a haven removed from the bustle of Arusha, and another delightful experience. edit
Via Via Cultural Cafe, Old Boma Rd (in the gardens of the Natural History Museum, next to the AICC building). 9.30-?. Nice and quiet setting in a magnificent garden surrounded by a forest, popular with ICTR employees. Concert and Party every Thursday night. You can also book cultural tours there.From TZS6,000. edit
Fifi`s Restaurant, Themi road (200 m down from the clocktower on the left), ☎ +255774301007, . 7:30 AM to 9:00 PM. A brand new restaurant offering high quality international food, fresh pastry and the best coffee in town. The restaurant has 2 sections with a lovely lounge area at the back. Parking (guarded) is free for customers.edit
Rivertrees, River Trees Road, Usa River (Kilimanjaro Airport), ☎ + 255 73 297 1667, . 24. Rivertrees serves up some of the best pizzas in town and gourmet country dishes. It is a good meeting place and an easy stop on the way or back from Kilimanjaro airport. Nearby residents often nip in for drinks, a healthy meal, or lounge about. Free wireless internet is available. Rivertrees gets its name from the stunning trees towering over open lawns and lush gardens on the banks of the Usa River (village by the same name). It is also a good place to watch sports on satellite TV in the al fresco bar and, the lodge has 22 cottage style rooms spread throughout the estate. $$. edit
Arusha has many interesting bars and restaurants. As a rule the best food is Indian, thanks to the large sub-continental community in the city. Liquid Blue in Njiro and Big Bite on the Swahili Rd are among the most popular Indian restaurants. For 'Nyama Choma', or Tanzanian roast meat, Nick's Bar in Njiro is also popular. There are countless local bars which generally welcome foreigners. The less adventurous stick to Via Via, on the grounds of the old German fort, which is an interesting cultural centre and part of an NGO which trains locals in the hospitality industry.
There are plenty of options for bars and restaurants for those who for some reason seem to wish to avoid locals altogether; these places are very easy to find.
For nightclubs, the AQ Club,'Babylon,Velocity, Colobus Club, Maasai Camp, Triple A, 777 and Polygon Triangle are popular with locals and foreigners alike. They start late and finish very, very late (or early). Pickpockets have been known to operate and all these bars are popular with local sex workers; caution is advised.
Arusha has plentiful accommodation to cater to all across the scale. There are many hotels in the centre of the town, including the international-grade Impala Hotel and the Arusha Hotel (see below). You won't get any surprises in this sort of accommodation. At the highest end of the scale there are numerous luxurious lodges in and around the city, some of which offer stunning scenery and the best standard of accommodation.
Be sure to avoid touts (people hired by hotels/hostels to get travellers to stay there). If you are travelling as a couple, a good idea is for one person to sit in a lobby or restaurant with the bags, while the other looks at the rooms. You are likely to get a cheaper price without the bags, and not be targeted by sneaky touts (they signal reception or hang around behind you) which will raise the price US$5-10 for you for their commission.
For budget travellers, many recommend the Maasai Camp (about 45 minutes walk from the city centre) which offers tent sites and bandas, a full service restaurant with a good selection of dishes (seafood, pizza, pastas, famous enchiladas), and bar. Many begin safaris here. There is a car workshop for those with car problems. This is popular with overland long distance haul truckers. Views of Mt. Kilimanjaro and Mt. Meru. Nature walks. Another is the Snake Park (which is in a village called Meserani, about 16 km out on the Dodoma Rd) on the route to Ngorongo Crater and the Serengeti. They have fully equipped campsites, a BBQ area and fully stocked bar. Pet a crocodile, learn about the most venomous and dangerous snakes. Ride a camel. These are both lively locations with popular bars and good services at a very low price.
For a quieter stay, Centre House, run by Camaldolese Benedictine nuns (of suffragan diocese orders in Africa deriving from the Patriarchate of Lisbon; these orders are also found in Brazil, India, Poland, and Columbia) is located a few minutes walk from the clock tower and offers basic rooms, both dormitory style and smaller rooms. Food and drinks including beer are available.
NOTE: In all lower end pricing accommodations, especially those shared with strangers, you sometimes have a greater risk of theft. Ask to store your valuables and ID in their safe when you leave, or take them with you in a concealed clothing pouch to deter pickpockets.
Arusha Backpackers, Sokoine Rd (near bus station). checkout: 10:00 am. A restaurant and a bar on the top floor of the hotel. An internet cafe on the top floor for quick browsing. The other facilities available are 24 hr hot water facility in the bathrooms, a TV room, a reading room and also a massage room. They charge around TZS40,000 for 1 hour of massage.US$20/dbl. edit
Arusha by Night Annexe, Stadium Rd & Colonel Middleton Rd, ☎ +255 272 506 894. Budget hotel located by the stadium and bus stations. Double rooms for 15,000 TZS (Nov 2011). Basic breakfast included. Hot water only at certain times. Road-side rooms are very noisy.(-3.368211,36.685216)edit
The Arusha Naaz Hotel
Arusha Naaz Hotel, Sokoine. A good option for travellers on a budget who still want a private room with a/c, TV and internet WIFI in a safe, central location. Very pleasant staff and good restaurant.US$50. edit
Caanan Hotel, Nairobi Rd, Mianzini (next to the white petrol station), ☎ +255 732 975 127, . checkin: 12 noon; checkout: 11AM. A midrange (3 star equivalent) 18 bed hotel. All rates include breakfast, dinner is available and you can give a half days notice, the hotel will arrange free transport for you from any where in the City Centre. Ideal if you just jumping off the Shuttle bus in Arusha.$19. edit
Meru House Inn, (in the centre of town). Budget option with double rooms going for TZS7,000 (USD5) a night, clean rooms with shared toilet and showers - it also has a great, very reasonably priced Indian restaurant on the ground floor.
Onsea House. A luxury B&B with only 5 rooms, Arusha's only boutique hotel, recommended as hip, relaxing hideaway just 7 km from the centre.US$185. edit
Kigongoni Lodge. Run by an NGO. All the profits go to support a local school for mentally handicapped children so that you can stay in luxury while helping the nearby community.edit
Annexe at L'Oasis Lodge, Close to idara ya maji, Sekei Arusha (Access rd Moshi/Nairobi Rd), ☎ +255 757 557 802 (email@example.com), . 12 rooms with twin beds in the gardens surrounding the main lodge in the village Sekai, including access to lodge facilities. About 10 min drive from the town centre. Bookings not essential but much appreciated.edit
The African Tulip, 44/1 Serengeti Rd. A small, well-liked luxury hotel for a reasonable price. A good one! US$230. edit
The Arusha Hotel, Main Rd. 4 star hotel with modern, well-decorated rooms and lovely staff.US$160. edit
The Impala Hotel, Old Moshi Rd. 3 star hotel with mixed reviews. Some rooms are lovely and spacious, while others disappoint. Ask to see your room before committing. US$145. edit
Mount Meru Hotel, Moshi Nariobi Rd. Set in a wildlife sanctuary, so you can sip your coffee ten feet from ostriches and monkeys.US$90. edit
The Bay Leaf Boutique Hotel, 102 Vijana Rd (corridor area of Arusha Pass the Impala Roundabout on your way north on 'Phillips' Rd; turn left just after the first speed bump; there is a sign on the road; second property on the left.), ☎ +255 27 254 3055, . A small boutique hotel. 6 rooms, all individually decoratated. Very chic & with attention to detail. Walking distance to banks, local attractions and the clock tower. Lunch: 11:30AM-3:30PM (average: TZS10,000-12,000). Dinner 6:30PM-10:30PM (Average TZS20,000-40,000)US$200-350. edit
Tumaini Cottage, Arusha (turn left before you reach Happy Sausage from Nairobi Rd, then follow the road all the way to the end), ☎ +255 754 588 698, . Wireless internet.edit
Kundayo Serviced Apartments Lodge, Plot No. 208, Block GG - Kimandolu (100 meters from Arusha-Moshi Road, about 500 meters from Phillips junction toward Moshi), ☎ +255754697105, . Kundayo Serviced Apartments Lodge provides a unique service to all visitors to Arusha. Whether you are planning to stay for one-day, one-month, a year or longer, we have the perfect accommodation option to suit your needs. At Kundayo Lodge we have recognized that not all visitors like to stay in conventional hotels, and instead many like the flexibility of being in a place like home. As such, each of the apartments come with fully fitted kitchens, comfortable bedrooms, lounge and dining area. US$45. (-3.366556,36.713229)edit
Arusha Hostel Lodge And Adventures (1430), Ngulelo (Ngulelo,Arusha-himo road), ☎ +255 784 876 731, . checkin: Any time; checkout: 10:30pm. AHLA is your gateway into East Africa. We offer a wide range of adventures, including: Cheap Accomodation in our Hostel Lodge, Affodable wildlife safaris to the Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Crater, hiking Mt. Kilimanjaro and Mt. Meru, cultural Masai tourism, cycling, and beach vacations to Zanzibar. Additionally, AHLA organizes volunteer experiences at a low cost. No matter what you want to make out of your trip to Tanzania, we can make it happen!$12-25. edit
Peace Matunda School and Orphanage, just outside Arusha, Tangeru (Mini busses and Dala dala's run constantly throughout the day), ☎ +255 787 482 966 or +255 763 186 147, . checkin: anytime; checkout: anytime. Peace Matunda School and Orphanage is run and funded by the Peace Matunda Tourism company. It is located just outside the busy city (about 30minutes by bus). They offer a well developed campsite, safe and with western washrooms and hot showers. They also have indoor accommodations and great food varying from local to western meals. Often it is used by people looking to volunteer at the orphanage or school and is a great place to get accustomed to the more rural areas as it sits on the side of Mt Meru in a quiet village. Most staff can speak decent English and are fairly friendly. Prices are often negotiable depending on your time of stay and meals needed. Dont hesitate to email them or call for more information.negotiable. edit
The Greenhouse, PO Box 14888, Arusha (Sombetini Road, Arusha), . checkin: 11:00; checkout: 13:00. The Greenhouse offers 3 rooms, accommodating up to 10 people - 2 rooms with 4 beds and 1 room with 2 beds and shared bathroom facilities including hot showers and western toilets. The lounge area is comfortable and homely with a TV, DVD player, stereo system and Wi-Fi and the veranda/ front of house area offers additional seating. All meals are included in the price as well as free-wi fi. Environmental activities are constantly being implemented including vegetable gardens, fruit trees, compost bins, recycling of glasses and water sewage for gardens. Located 10 minutes from the city centre by car/ bus.$13 USD. edit
Arusha is a moderately safe city by African standards, though precautions should be observed.
It is not advisable to walk at night, alone or in groups - cabs are plentiful but fares should always be agreed upon at the start of a journey (cabs have no meters, making it all too easy to exaggerate fares at the end of a journey). Avoid taking motorcycle taxis, especially at night in front of clubs. Thieves easily use this opportunity to rob people.
In the city centre (on Sokoine road) and in certain areas (along old Moshi road) there are frequent attacks on tourists, especially when they are walking with their backpacks/bags. Make sure that you take a cab when you are arriving/leaving from Arusha (as gangs usually know when and where backpackers arrive) and avoid taking a bag when walking in town.
Foreigners are virtually guaranteed to be approached by touts. This can be intimidating, especially when they latch onto and follow you, but they are usually harmless. In this case do not stop, slow down or make eye contact; simply say "hapana asante" (no thank you) if they ask or offer you anything. You will save yourself a lot of bother if you do not engage them. When walking in any part of the city beyond the central district, it is advisable to take a guide. The bridge on Old Moshi Rd is a particularly notorious mugging spot, and although often patrolled by police it should be avoided if on foot. If you sit alone in the park nearby the bridge, police will usually aproach you within a few minutes and insist that you leave.
Mica Computer Services, Azimo St. (opposite Arusha Declaration Museum), ☎ +255 272 506737, . 8AM-6PM. Friendly computer store in the heart of town selling computers, accessories and software. Toner and ink cardridges, empty CD's and DVD's. Will burn your pics for free of charge.(S3.36911,E36.69079)edit
Teli Tech Computers, Azimio St/ Sokoine Rd (opposite Rusda Supermarket), ☎ +255 786 951 951, . 8:30AM-5:30PM. Well stocked computer store offering repair services, web hosting, cartridge refilling and more. Fast internet cafe and secretarial services. Common meeting point for volunteers.edit