An important location to the Tanzanian tourism industry, Arusha is the gateway to prime safari destinations such as the Serengeti National Park,Lake Manyara National Park and to Africa's highest peak, Mount Kilimanjaro. Located in the base of the volcanic Mount Meru, Arusha witnesses huge herds of Wildebeests crossing its plains during the annual migration.
Mount Kilimanjaro - Composed of the three independent peaks Kibo, Mawenzi and Shira, Mt Kilimanjaro is one of the world's leading single and freestanding mountains. It is also an active contestant to the list of New Seven Wonders of Nature.
Ngorongoro Crater - One of the world's largest inactive, intact and unfilled volcanic caldera, surrounded by the treasure-trove of historical sites like The Engare Sero Footprint Site and Olduvai Gorge. Take a walk through the history of mankind and ages of evolution.
Cultural Heritage Center - A interesting place with souvenir and curios to meet all tastes. The cultural center has been an integral part of Arusha with a wide display of cultural artifacts along with jewellery and locally found stones.
Tarangire National Park - Named after the river, Tarangire is the sixth largest national park of Tanzania. The park is also famous for the termite mounds that dot the landscape. The abandoned mounds are often home to dwarf mongoose.
Lake Manyara National Park - Located in both Arusha Region and Manyara Region, but under the jurisdiction of Tanzania National Parks Authority, Lake Manyara National Park is known for the flamingos that inhabit the lake in flocks of thousands.
Meserani Snake Park - An educational experience in a authentic Tanzanian setting! Watch some of Africa's deadliest snakes at close proximity and enjoy the briefing from highly experienced natives and other stories.
Arusha National Park features a variety of ecosystems, such as grasslands, swamps, crater lakes, highland and forest. Arusha is a bird watcher's Mecca with more than 400 species which include Augur Buzzard, African Crowned, Tawny, Snake Eagles, pelicans, bee-eaters, flamingos hornbills, herons, ducks and waders. With the close proximity of National parks like Lake Manyara National park, Serengeti National Park and Tarangire National Park there is an abundance of wildlife to be viewed and enjoyed.
Best time to go to Arusha is from June to October when animals are easier to spot
Most part of the year can be considered as high season especially from July to March though the park never gets too crowded, tourism is at its lowest from April and May.
To enjoy the best weather be sure to make your to Arusha between June to October when the rainfall is minimal
Unfavorable weather is between March and April when it is the peak of wet season.
The food options are many. You can pull up a chair and be seated beside the Maasai men and taste Nyama Choma (roasted meat and maize), chapatti, pilau and biryani or enjoy the street food on Mosque Street, with piled plates containing Indian style chutneys, naans and salads. Arusha farmer's market is another popular place among the foodies. Dig in a bit more deeper and explore the Themi Living Gardens, with organic food at eco-restaurant Eat Wild, run by a women’s community project.
Arusha boasts a good selection of coffee shops serving flat whites, iced lattes and other European style cups. For coffee connoisuers there are some luxurious coffee lodges on the outskirts of the city offering ‘Bean to Cup’ plantation tours.
A melting pot of both indigenous and ethnic cultures comprising of Iraqw, Hadzabe, Maasai, Swahili and many more, Arusha is home for all of them.
The waMeru people are believed to have arrived to the slopes of mount Meru around 800 years ago from the Usambara Mountains in Tanga Region. Upon arrival they were met by the hunter-gatherer group called the Koningo and were absorbed into Meru society. The waMeru are known for their intensive agricultural practises. They are also known as the Rwa.
Around 1830, people of Pare origin from Arusha Chini area in Kilimanjaro region settled in the southwestern slopes of Mount Meru. They are distinctly related to the Maasai.
During the 1880s Bovine pleuropneumonia and Rinderpest swept the lands killing many of the Waarusha livestock. The famines and droughts of 1883-6, 1891-2 and 1897-1900 weakened the kingdom of Arusha and its people, resulting in Germans declaring a war to capture Arusha. The Germans confiscated the people's weapons and cattle, burned their home and food reserves to the ground to further weaken them.
First World War saw the defeat of Germans by the British expelling the German settlers and replacing them with the Greek and British settlers.
Arusha has a unique pattern of two wet seasons and two dry seasons. Most of the annual rainfall occurs during the long rainy season which is from March to May. The short rainy season is in November and December. June through October is the long dry season, and August is typically the driest month of the year. January and February has sporadic rains and is the short, hot, dry season. Average temperatures are at its peak in February with high of around 82 F (28 C) and lows of 54 F (12 C), and lowest temperature is in July with highs of 72 F (22 C) and lows of 54 F (12 C).
The easiest way to get to Arusha is a direct flight to Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA), located about 46km/29mi from Arusha. Alternatively, you can fly to Julius Nyerere International Airport (DAR), located near Dar es Salaam and get a connecting domestic flight to Arusha Airport (ARK) or Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA).
A cheaper option is to fly to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO), located outside of Nairobi in Kenya, and take a shuttle bus to Arusha.