Gateway to safari adventures

The safari capital of Tanzania

Arusha cultural heritage centre with statues of safari animals

Say “African safari” in northern Tanzania and the town of Arusha comes to mind as the portal for all adventures like climbing Kilimanjaro and journeys to the Serengeti. But an exploration of this active, cosmopolitan city will yield all sorts of entertainment, history, shopping experiences, and culinary surprises.

This is a surprisingly large regional capital of half a million buzzing with more than 100 nationalities. The cultural influences of Swahili, Arab, Indian, Hadzabe, Maasai, and many more groups have left their mark on the city’s architecture, mercantile culture, nightlife, and food scene.

Though located near the equator, Arusha’s elevation at 1,400 m (4,600 ft) near Mt. Meru affords a comfortable temperate climate and the city is layered with lush greenery. Indeed, before heading out for your safari adventure or perhaps on your return, don’t miss the many charms this unexpected city has to offer.

Arusha's street food

You may feel an assault on your senses as the piquant aromas of Arusha’s street food swirl about you. Roasted meats, chapati, BBQ, ‘Chicken on the Bonnet’, chutneys, and myriad roadside dishes are all for the having on Mosque Street.

Partake of a surprisingly rich selection of coffee shops as well, where all manner of lattes and chai await. Dig deep into the java experience near the edge of the city with plantation tours from the coffee fields to a hot steaming cup of the real thing.

Clock tower and road sign in Arusha in Tanzania
Tribal clothing accessories and jewellery at a market stall in Arusha

Charms of local markets

The shopping here is rich, colorful, and varied with stalls offering Maasai goods such as fabrics and hand-made baskets at the Arusha Central Market. Practice your bartering skills at the Maasai Market on Fire Road with its deep collection of handmade goods.

Other markets worth a visit for their eco-awareness and equitable approach are the Maasai Women Fair Trade Center and The Cultural Heritage craft mall.

Museum Culture

You might not expect to find excellent museums in this portal town to safari adventure but a visit to the National Natural History Museum will provide in-depth exhibits on the region’s people, wildlife, and local history.

Being near the anthropological treasures of Olduvai Gorge, you’ll also find displays illustrating how our ancestors in the area lived millions of years ago.

The Arusha Declaration Museum provides a window into Tanzania’s efforts for independence and its colonial past.

Landmarks in Arusha City in Tanzania
Themi Living Gardens in Arusha in Tanzania

Things to do around Arusha town

The Tanzanite Experience – Tanzanite is the country’s national stone and an important export. Here you’ll see how Tanzanite is mined, cut, and graded through interactive tours and exhibitions. Plus you’ll have opportunities to purchase this precious and colorful souvenir.

Camel Ride to Maasai – Ever ridden a camel? This experience isn’t just a quick ride around a park but a 30-minute trek to a nearby Maasai village to see and learn about these indigenous people.

The Arusha Cultural Heritage Centre – Explore African culture and art at this unique modern structure with its extensive galleries of statues, masks, furniture, architectural items, and much more. Here you’ll find an impressive collection of paintings and tanzanite on display.

Themi Living Gardens – Take a break from the buzz of the city at this peaceful and green spot. Relax and enjoy a leisurely meal at one of the several organic restaurants found here.   

Things to know about Arusha

Known as the gateway to Tanzania’s northern parks, Arusha offers many attractions of its own. One can easily fill up a day or two at this regional capital.

Best hotels & Resorts in Arusha Town

This is Arusha Town

With its surprising mix of restaurants, museums, café culture, and fascinating markets, Arusha is a busy and unexpected break from the wildlife experience. Plan on spending some time here before or after your Africa safari.

Join us at Arusha Town

Africa Kenya Safaris offers Tanzania only safaris and combined Tanzania & Kenya safaris from Arusha Town. Just contact us to get your safari started.

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7 Days Tanzania Safari

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