Arusha is a city located in northern Tanzania, near the border with Kenya. It is the capital of the Arusha region and is situated at the foot of Mount Meru, which is the fifth highest mountain in Africa. The city has a population of around 500,000 people and is a major hub for tourism, business, and international development.
Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa, is close to Arusha and is known for its beautiful scenery. The city is also close to a number of national parks, such as the Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, and Tarangire. These parks are home to elephants, lions, and giraffes, among other animals.
In addition to its natural beauty, Arusha is also known for its bustling markets, where visitors can find a wide range of locally-made crafts and souvenirs. The city is particularly famous for its Maasai Market, which is open daily and offers a variety of traditional Maasai clothing, jewelry, and handicrafts.
Arusha is a culturally diverse city, with several ethnic groups living in the area, including the Maasai, Meru, and Chaga. The city is also home to several museums and cultural centers, which offer visitors a glimpse into the region’s history and heritage.
Arusha is an important business and economic center, with several international organizations and NGOs based in the city. The city’s infrastructure is well-developed, with several airports and major highways. This makes it easy for people from all over the world to visit.
Best 10 things to do in Arusha
Arusha is a bustling city in Tanzania that serves as a gateway to several natural attractions in the northern part of the country. Here are the top 10 things to do in Arusha:
1. Arusha National Park:
Arusha National Park is a protected area located in northern Tanzania, near the city of Arusha. It covers an area of approximately 137 square kilometers and is one of the smallest national parks in Tanzania. Despite its relatively small size, Arusha National Park is home to a diverse range of wildlife and habitats, including grasslands, montane forest, and highland heath.
Some of the wildlife that can be found in the park includes giraffes, zebras, buffaloes, elephants, leopards, hyenas, and various species of primates, such as the black and white colobus monkey and the blue monkey. The park is also known for its rich bird life, with over 400 species recorded within its boundaries.
Read about Best 15 National Parks to visit in Tanzania.
One of the unique features of Arusha National Park is Mount Meru, an active stratovolcano and the second-highest peak in Tanzania after Mount Kilimanjaro. Climbing Mount Meru is a popular activity for visitors to the park, and the trek typically takes three to four days.
Other popular activities in Arusha National Park include game drives, walking safaris, and canoeing on the Momela Lakes, which are a series of shallow alkaline lakes within the park. The park is easily accessible from Arusha and is often visited as a day trip or as a starting point for longer safari itineraries.
Check out Tickets & Tours for Arusha National Park.
2. Go on a safari:
Safaris in Arusha offer an unforgettable experience for visitors who want to witness the beauty and diversity of Tanzania’s wildlife up close. With several national parks and conservation areas located within a short distance from the city, Arusha is an excellent starting point for a safari adventure.
One of the most popular safaris in Arusha is a game drive in Arusha National Park. The park is home to a diverse range of wildlife, including buffaloes, giraffes, zebras, leopards, and various species of primates. Visitors can also explore the Momela Lakes, which are a series of shallow alkaline lakes within the park, and enjoy canoeing and birdwatching.
Another popular safari destination near Arusha is Tarangire National Park, which is located approximately 120 kilometers southwest of the city. The park is known for its large herds of elephants and baobab trees, which create a unique and striking landscape. Tarangire is also home to a diverse range of wildlife, including lions, leopards, cheetahs, and various species of antelope.
For those looking for a more adventurous safari experience, climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is a popular option. The mountain is the highest peak in Africa and attracts thousands of climbers each year. The trek typically takes five to seven days and offers stunning views of the surrounding landscape.
3. Explore the Cultural Heritage Center:
The Cultural Heritage Center in Arusha is a unique and fascinating destination that showcases the rich cultural heritage of Tanzania. Located just a few kilometers from the city center, the center is a popular tourist attraction that offers visitors the opportunity to learn about the traditional arts, crafts, and customs of the country.
The center features several exhibits that showcase the diverse cultural heritage of Tanzania. Visitors can explore a variety of traditional houses and huts, including a Maasai boma, a Chagga house, and a Sukuma house. Each structure is furnished with traditional items and artifacts, giving visitors an authentic glimpse into the daily life of these cultures.
One of the most popular attractions at the Cultural Heritage Center is the art gallery, which features a wide selection of traditional and contemporary African art. Visitors can browse through a variety of paintings, sculptures, and other artworks, many of which are for sale.
The center also features a variety of workshops and demonstrations, where visitors can learn traditional crafts and techniques from skilled artisans. These workshops cover a range of topics, including weaving, beadwork, pottery, and carving.
In addition to its exhibits and workshops, the Cultural Heritage Center also has several restaurants and cafes, where visitors can enjoy traditional Tanzanian cuisine and refreshments. The center also has a gift shop, where visitors can purchase souvenirs and handmade crafts.
4. Take a hike in the Arusha Forest Reserve:
The Arusha Forest Reserve is a beautiful and serene destination that offers visitors the opportunity to explore the natural beauty of Tanzania’s forests. Located just a few kilometers from Arusha, the reserve is a popular destination for hiking, birdwatching, and nature photography.
There are several hiking trails in the Arusha Forest Reserve, ranging from easy to moderate difficulty. The trails wind through lush forests, past crystal clear streams, and offer stunning views of Mount Meru and Kilimanjaro on clear days. Hiking in the forest reserve is a great way to get some exercise and immerse yourself in nature, while enjoying the peaceful surroundings.
As you hike through the forest, you’ll have the opportunity to see a variety of wildlife, including monkeys, baboons, and various species of birds. The reserve is also home to a variety of plant and tree species, including the indigenous African tulip, which is known for its bright red flowers.
One of the most popular hiking trails in the Arusha Forest Reserve is the Levison Wood Trail. This trail is named after the British explorer and adventurer Levison Wood, who walked the entire length of the Nile River. The trail winds through the forest, past a beautiful waterfall, and ends at a viewpoint with stunning views of Mount Kilimanjaro.
Before embarking on a hike in the Arusha Forest Reserve, it’s important to check in with the reserve authorities and obtain any necessary permits. It’s also recommended to hire a guide, who can provide valuable information about the forest and ensure your safety while on the trail.
5. Visit the Meserani Snake Park:
The Meserani Snake Park is a fascinating destination located in Arusha, Tanzania. The park is home to a wide variety of snake species, including some of the most venomous snakes in Africa, making it a popular attraction for visitors interested in reptiles.
One of the highlights of the Meserani Snake Park is its snake pit, which houses a variety of venomous snakes, including black mambas, puff adders, and cobras. Visitors can watch these snakes from a safe distance, as trained handlers feed and care for them.
The park also features a large collection of non-venomous snakes, including boas, pythons, and rat snakes. Visitors can learn about the different species and their habitats, as well as their behavior and role in the ecosystem.
In addition to snakes, the Meserani Snake Park also has a variety of other animals, including crocodiles, tortoises, and lizards. Visitors can watch the crocodiles being fed, learn about the different species of tortoises, and see the various types of lizards, including chameleons and geckos.
The Meserani Snake Park also has a small museum, where visitors can learn about the history of snakes and their importance in different cultures around the world. There are also informative displays about snake venom and its use in medicine and antivenom production.
Visitors to the Meserani Snake Park can also participate in guided tours, where they can learn more about the different species of snakes and other reptiles, as well as their habitats and behavior. The park also has a restaurant and gift shop, where visitors can purchase refreshments and souvenirs.
Check out Meserani Snake Park Tours and Tickets.
6. Go on a coffee tour:
Arusha is a major coffee-producing region in Tanzania, and a coffee tour is a great way to learn about the local coffee industry and experience the rich flavors and aromas of Tanzanian coffee. A coffee tour typically involves visiting a coffee plantation, learning about the cultivation and processing of coffee beans, and sampling different varieties of coffee.
One popular coffee plantation to visit in Arusha is the Arusha Coffee Lodge, which offers a comprehensive coffee tour for visitors. The tour includes a visit to the plantation, where visitors can see coffee trees, learn about the different stages of coffee cultivation and harvesting, and see the coffee processing facilities.
During the tour, visitors can also participate in a coffee tasting, where they can sample different varieties of coffee and learn about the different flavors and aromas that distinguish Tanzanian coffee. The tour is led by knowledgeable guides who are passionate about coffee and can answer any questions visitors may have.
Another coffee plantation to visit in Arusha is the Burka Coffee Estate, which has been producing high-quality coffee since the early 1900s. The estate offers guided tours where visitors can learn about the history of coffee production in Tanzania, as well as the different techniques used in the cultivation and processing of coffee beans.
During the tour, visitors can also participate in a cupping session, where they can taste different varieties of coffee and learn about the different characteristics that make Tanzanian coffee unique. The estate also has a coffee shop where visitors can purchase coffee beans and souvenirs.
A coffee tour in Arusha is a great way to learn about the local coffee industry and experience the unique flavors and aromas of Tanzanian coffee. With its beautiful coffee plantations, knowledgeable guides, and delicious coffee, Arusha is the perfect destination for coffee lovers and anyone interested in learning more about the culture and history of Tanzania.
Check out Coffe tours available Here.
7. Shop at the Maasai Market:
The Maasai Market is a vibrant and colorful open-air market located in Arusha, Tanzania. The market offers a unique shopping experience where visitors can find a variety of locally made crafts, jewelry, clothing, and souvenirs.
The market is named after the Maasai people, who are known for their traditional way of life and distinctive dress. Many of the items sold at the market are made by Maasai artisans, including beaded jewelry, leather goods, and colorful textiles.
Visitors to the Maasai Market can browse the various stalls and interact with the friendly vendors, who are always happy to share information about their crafts and offer bargaining tips. The market is a great place to find unique and authentic souvenirs, including beaded necklaces, bracelets, and earrings, as well as handcrafted wooden carvings and pottery.
In addition to crafts and souvenirs, the Maasai Market also offers a wide range of clothing items, including traditional Maasai shukas, which are brightly colored cloths worn as garments. Visitors can also find other types of clothing, including t-shirts, dresses, and skirts, all made from traditional African fabrics.
The Maasai Market is open every day, and it’s a great place to visit for both tourists and locals alike. The market offers an authentic glimpse into the local culture and is a great place to support local artisans and small businesses.
8. Visit the Old Boma Museum:
The Old Boma Museum is a historical and cultural museum located in the heart of Arusha, Tanzania. The museum is housed in a former German colonial administrative building, which dates back to the early 20th century.
The museum offers a fascinating look at the history and culture of Arusha and the surrounding region. Visitors can explore the various exhibits and displays, which cover a range of topics, including the colonial period, the local Maasai culture, and the natural history of the region.
One of the highlights of the museum is its collection of traditional Maasai artifacts, including beaded jewelry, clothing, and other items used in daily life. The Maasai people are one of the most well-known and distinctive indigenous groups in Tanzania, and their culture and traditions are an important part of the country’s heritage.
Another interesting exhibit at the museum focuses on the history of German colonialism in Tanzania. Visitors can learn about the impact of German rule on the local population and the ways in which colonialism shaped the country’s history and culture.
The Old Boma Museum also features a natural history exhibit, which showcases the diverse flora and fauna of the region. Visitors can learn about the different ecosystems found in Tanzania, including the savannah, the rainforest, and the mountainous regions.
In addition to its exhibits, the Old Boma Museum also hosts a variety of cultural events and activities throughout the year, including traditional music and dance performances, art exhibitions, and workshops on traditional crafts and skills.
9. Take a hot air balloon ride over the Serengeti:
Taking a hot air balloon ride over the Serengeti is a truly unforgettable experience and a must-do activity for any visitor to Tanzania. The Serengeti is one of the most famous national parks in the world, known for its incredible wildlife and stunning landscapes, and a hot air balloon ride provides a unique perspective on this incredible destination.
The hot air balloon ride typically takes place early in the morning, as the sun rises over the park. Visitors will meet their pilot and crew and watch as the balloon is inflated and prepared for flight. Once aboard the balloon, visitors will float gently over the Serengeti, with panoramic views of the savannah, forests, and hills stretching out in every direction.
Read more about how to book your ride at The hot air balloon in Serengeti, Tanzania.
One of the most incredible aspects of the hot air balloon ride is the opportunity to see wildlife from a completely new perspective. From above, visitors can spot herds of wildebeest and zebra moving across the plains, as well as lions, cheetahs, and other predators stalking their prey. The experience of watching the wildlife from the air is both exhilarating and peaceful, and provides a unique perspective on the natural beauty of the Serengeti.
After the hot air balloon ride, visitors can enjoy a champagne breakfast in the bush, complete with stunning views and the chance to spot more wildlife. The experience of floating over the Serengeti in a hot air balloon is truly unforgettable and is sure to be a highlight of any trip to Tanzania.
10. Go on a cultural tour of a Maasai village:
Going on a cultural tour of a Maasai village is a fantastic way to learn about the traditional way of life of one of Tanzania’s most well-known indigenous groups. The Maasai are a semi-nomadic people who have lived in the East African region for centuries and are known for their distinctive customs, dress, and way of life.
During a cultural tour of a Maasai village, visitors can interact with members of the community and learn about their daily routines, traditions, and beliefs. Typically, the tour begins with a warm welcome by the village chief, followed by a tour of the village, which may include a visit to a traditional Maasai home, a chance to see livestock, and an opportunity to learn about the Maasai diet, which often consists of meat, milk, and blood.
Visitors can also learn about the traditional Maasai dress and jewelry, which are typically handmade and feature intricate beadwork and vibrant colors. There may be a chance to purchase some of these items as souvenirs, which can make for unique and meaningful gifts.
One of the highlights of a Maasai village tour is the chance to watch traditional Maasai dancing and music performances. These performances are typically high-energy and feature acrobatic movements and vocalizations. Visitors can also join in the dancing and learn some traditional Maasai moves.
Throughout the tour, visitors can ask questions and interact with members of the Maasai community, providing a unique opportunity to learn about their customs and beliefs. Many visitors find that the cultural tour of a Maasai village is one of the most memorable and meaningful experiences of their trip to Tanzania.
Check out Best Maasai Village Private Cultural Tour.
In conclusion, Arusha, Tanzania, offers a variety of activities and attractions for travelers to enjoy. From exploring national parks and going on safaris to learning about the culture and history of Tanzania, there is something for everyone. Whether you’re seeking adventure or relaxation, Arusha has plenty to offer, and visitors will undoubtedly be left with unforgettable experiences and memories.