Arusha, called "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 hotel rooms.
Arusha is home to the UNICTR, the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. It is also the site of the signing of the Arusha Declaration.
Arusha is served by two airports.
- 1 Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO IATA) (approximately 60 km (45 min) from the city centre). It has regular flights from Amsterdam with KLM, and from Addis Ababa, Dar es Salaam, Zanzibar and Nairobi. A taxi ride costs US$50 but many airlines run a shuttle service for free or US$10.
- 2 Arusha Municipal Airport (ARK IATA) (on the outskirts of the city). It only runs domestic flights, mostly fro Zanzibar and Dar es Salaam, and charters. Air Viva offers flights between Arusha and Zanzibar, Dar es Salaam, Kilimanjaro and other domestic destinations.
Visas-on-arrival are available at Kilimanjaro International Airport for US$50, or US$100 for some nationalities. The visa must be paid in US dollars -- 1 dollar bills and coins won't be accepted. Immediately outside the arrival hall is an ATM and a currency exchange office that you can use if you don't have the necessary cash with you.
Arusha is a major transport hub and has connections throughout the country. 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. Especially when doing long distance trips, it is usually wise to take one of the better companies (e.g. Dar Express or Killimanjaro Express or Modern Coast Bus) and buy the ticket at least a day in advance.
Direct express coaches go from/to
- Nairobi (Kenya) (6 hr, Tsh 22,000-25,000) with Dar Express, Riverside Shuttle Service, modern Coast and Impala Shuttle Service.
- Dar es Salaam/Ubungo (11 hr+) mainly morning departures, several companies, e.g. Dar Express (Tsh 33,000), Kilimanjaro Express (Tsh 33,000).
- Karatu (3 hr, Tsh 5000TSh) several daily with Dar Express, Saibaba
- Kampala (Uganda) (17 hr)
- Moshi (1 hr, Tsh 2000). There are various shuttle buses between Arusha and Moshi which are more comfortable than coaches.
- Mwanza (12 hr+)
- Loliondo/Wasso with Loliondo Express (10 hr+, Tsh 22,000), a couple of departures per week with notoriously overloaded busses. The bus passes three toll pikes where you need to pay (US$8-15) each time.
- Other services also go to Tanga, Lushoto
- 1 Dar Express (A few meters from the northeast corner of the Stadium). Booking office & departures. Several other companies’ booking office are nearby.
There is an overnight service from Dar es Salaam via Moshi, operated by TRC. Tickets are quite cheap and the full journey takes just over 17 hours. The train from Arusha to Moshi 86 kms by rail. takes 2-3 hours.
- 3 Arusha railway station (Southeast of city centre).
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. The government regulates all pricing of transportation in Tanzania. Prices are listed on the sides of the daladala for each distance or stop covered. You are not obliged to pay above that price. As with most destinations in the world, they will try to fit as many people as possible to maximize their profits. Accidents involving daladalas are frequent and usually with serious consequences for the passengers. Pickpocketing is also common on daladalas, but can be easily avoided by sitting with bags on your lap and not keeping valuables in your pockets. Nevertheless, people are very honest and will often stop someone trying to steal or rip you off.
Taxis are plentiful and cheap, although you should make sure to agree to a price before leaving for your destination. The standard fare for a small trip in town is TSH 4,000 to 16,000 depending on the distance. Remember that fuel is expensive in Tanzania, so taxis try to cover costs every way they can.
Car hire is possible though most companies prefer to provide their own drivers. Self driving is possible, Tanzanian roads are good if paved and can be challenging when gravel. You should have some experience in offroad driving (e.g. from Namibia or Botswana) and a sense for adventure. Flat tyres are common but are usually no problem as you will have spare tyres and every filling station can fix a tyre.
- 1 Arusha Declaration Museum. Dedicated to the 1967 Arusha Declaration, which remains one of the most prominent attempts to define African socialism. It defined the political course of Tanzania for several decades. The museum also includes the large Declaration Monument.
- 2 Arusha Cultural Heritage Centre, ☏ .
- 3 Arusha National Natural History Museum, ☏ .
- Tanzania Tourist Board can arrange cultural excursions to nearby villages for Tsh 15,000-50,000. 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 good waterfalls. Longido has camel safaris. And 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 will probably hassle you for donations to their school or orphanage. Some dishonest guides might pocket the money, so it is advisable to give money to a reputable charity. Trust your instinct.
- Century Cinema has movies for Tsh 5,000-7,000. 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 multi-cuisine restaurant "Spice Retreat". However, 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 Tsh 4,000.
- Climb Mount Meru (4,667 m). It can be done in 3–4 days, depending on your 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 for warm clothing and sleeping bags.
Definitely something to try, if you can afford it. There are multiple types of trips for multiple budgets; usually the pricier ones get you out farther into the Serengeti, to places that are a little less touched by man. But even the cheaper excursions to reserves and parks are worth doing. If there's one trip that will change your perspective on life, it's an African safari.
Not all tour guides are equally knowledgeable. It doesn't hurt to do a little research on your own about the places you'll be visiting. That way when you ask the guide, "What kind of bird is that," and he replies, "It's called an African bird," you'll know that it's time to get out the field book. Beware of paying over the market price, as you will still sleep in the same accommodation as the guy who paid the normal price, you'll eat the same food, and your vehicle is just as likely to break down.
- 1 Local produce market. 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 also on how sharply 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 screened cloths in bright colors 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 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.
- 2 Maasai market. A one stop shopping area for handicrafts made by local Tanzanians. you get to buy various handicrafts made of ebony, redwood ets and various types of paintings made by local artisans. While the market caters mainly to tourists (it's sometimes even called tourist market), prices are not inflated (although there is always a large scope for bargaining).
Malls & supermarkets
- 3 Village Supermarket, Njrio complex Njirio Road, ☏ . 8:30AM-9PM. Every thing you need, all in one place. They also have supermarkets in Dar
- Shoppers supermarket, Sokoine Road. 8am-22.00. large supermarket also has stores in Dar and Dodoma.
- Sanaa Supermarket, Somali Road. 9am-20.30pm. large supermarker.
- Rushada Supermarket, Azimio Road. 9am-19.30pm. large supermarket.
Banks and ATMs
- Equity Bank. Has a Mastercard/Visa Card ATM.
- Stanbic Bank. Has a Mastercard/Visa Card ATM.
- KCB. Has a Mastercard/Visa Card ATM.
- Ecobank. Has a Mastercard/Visa Card ATM.
- I&M Bank, Jakaranda Street. Has a Mastercard/Visa Card ATM.
- DTB, Old moshi Road. 24 hours atm.. mastercard visa card atm. no fee.
Arusha has a wide variety of restaurants and informal eating places, with a predominance of Indian cuisine, which as a rule of thumb is the best food, 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 Bar in Njiro is also popular. Meals range from US$ 0.40 for street fare to US$15 for main courses at the high-end hotels.
- 1 Africafe Coffee House, Old Boma Rd (near to the Clock tower). 8AM-8PM. Stylish European cafe, that is famous with foreigners. Good coffee specialties, delicious pastries like carrot or chocolate-banana cake as well as muffins, breakfast, burgers, salads or smoothies. Despite the name, they serve real coffee and no Africafe instant coffee. Sometimes there is WiFi. Cakes from Tsh 5,000.
- 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 Tsh 20,000.
- Cafe Bamboo Restaurant. Higher end cafe/restaurant, but inexpensive for foreign travellers. Snacks such as samosas, chips and kebabs. Also serves western, Indian and traditional African dishes. Popular amongst tourists.
- Chinese Dragon. A good place for Chinese food in Arusha, moderately priced. Say hi to Louie for a special deal! Tsh 10,000-15,000.
- Khan's Chicken on the Bonnet. Pakistani BBQ, includes chicken, beef, mutton, assorted salads, and nan. One of the best BBQ in town (rivals with Nick's Pub 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. Tsh 4,500-9,000/person.
- L'Oasis Lodge, Close to idara ya maji, Sekei Arusha (access via Moshi/Nairobi Rd.), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. 7AM - late. Nachos, cold drinks in the garden or by the pool. No reservations needed for groups below 10.
- The Lively Lady Bar & Grill (opposite the Railway station, down the road with Arusha Backpacker's on the corner), ☏ , email@example.com. M-Sa 5PM-midnight. 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 spicen up your evening.
- McMoody's. 8AM-9:30PM, 7 days a week. Has a little bit of everything in a fast-food-y setting in the centre of town. They also have a branch in the complex in Njiro Rd near the cinema. Mains Tsh 6,000-15,000 (July 2017).
- Onsea House Restaurant, ☏ . Renowned as best French/Belgian restaurant in East Africa. Recommended for a romantic candle light dinner or special celebration. Reservations recommended.
- Shanga River House (firstname.lastname@example.org), Dodoma Rd (on the road to Arusha Airport), ☏ , email@example.com. 10AM-5PM. Shanga is a heartwarming project on Tanzania's oldest coffee estate, in Arusha, Tanzania. Shanga employs 50 disabled Tanzanian people in their workshops where they recycle glass, aluminum, paper and tires into high quality, creative products. Shanga features the River House Restaurant and the Shanga Shop. River House Restaurant is for lunch on reservation only. It is a haven away from the bustle of Arusha.
- 2 Via Via Cultural Cafe, Old Boma Rd (in the gardens of the Natural History Museum, next to the AICC building). 9:30AM-?. Nice and quiet setting, popular with ICTR employees. Concert and Party every Thursday night. You can also book cultural tours there. From Tsh 6,000.
- Spice Retreat Restaurant, 1st Floor, Njiro Complex, ☏ . Noon-midnight. Indian, Asian, Mexican and international cuisine. Views of Mt. Meru and Mt. Kilimanjaro on clear days. Also a nightclub. Tsh 5,000-15,000.
- 3 Kiti Moto, Makao Mapya Neighborhood (Taxi would be best: Tsh 3,000 [no more than 5,000] from the main bus station and Tsh 5,000 [no more than 10,000 from the city center]. Upstairs, second floor, inside Seuri Guesti [Guesthouse] right next door to Premier Palace Hotel [not The Palace Hotel in a different part of Arusha])). Lunch and dinner until about 9 or 10PM, 7 days a week. This restaurant is dedicated to serving only pork, which is not common in East Africa. The main carbohydrate is ugali (maize meal, not wet). There are also french fries (called "chips" in East Africa) or chipati (like a crepe) most of the time. Local (not tourist) prices here: Tsh 10,000 to 20,000 for two people.
Arusha has many interesting bars and restaurants. There are uncountable local bars which are generally welcoming to adventurous foreigners. The less adventurous visitors stick to Via Via, in 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 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 the local sex workers so the usual discretion should be applied.
Arusha has plentiful accommodation to cater to all ends of 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 or 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) or the Snake Park (which is in a village called Meserani, about 16 km out on the Dodoma Rd). These are both lively locations with popular bars and good services at a very low price. For a quieter stay, Centre House, run by nuns 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 is available from the sisters.
- 1 Arusha Backpackers, Sokoine Rd (near bus station). 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 Tsh 40,000 for 1 hour of massage. US$20/dbl.
- 2 Arusha by Night Annexe, Stadium Rd & Colonel Middleton Rd, ☏ . Budget hotel located by the stadium and bus stations. Double rooms for Tsh 35,000 (October 2019). Basic breakfast included. Hot water only at certain times. Road-side rooms are very noisy. Tsh 35000 for a double room.
- BaseCamp Tanzania, Old Moshi rd, Kijenge (follow Nyerere rd pass the Impala Roundabout, cross a bridge and continue into Kijenge until reaching the Mount Meru Petrol Station, turn left up the dirt road, heading to the white house with the blue roof at the top of the hill), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Hostel accommodation, in-house meals, wireless internet.
- Meru House Inn (in the centre of town). Budget option with double rooms going for Tsh 7,000 a night, clean rooms with shared toilet and showers - it also has a great, very reasonably priced Indian restaurant on the ground floor. However, Meru House Inn has been plagued by thefts, several guests have experienced thefts from their room, possibly by staff. Make sure to put your valuables/passport in a safe.
- 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.
- Annexe at L'Oasis Lodge, Close to idara ya maji, Sekei Arusha (Access rd Moshi/Nairobi Rd), ☏ , email@example.com. 12 twin bedded rooms 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.
- 3 Raha Leo, Stadium Road. Calm and clean hotel with a nice atmosphere and friendly staff that’s famous with backpackers. Run by a church, double rooms will only be granted to married couples. The proximity to the bus station may be useful. dbl from Tsh 30,000.
- 4 Seuri Guesti (Guesthouse), Right next to Premier Palace Hotel (not The Palace) (Makao Mapya Neighborhood). Half of the rooms have private bathrooms including hot showers and western toilets. There are 2 restaurants and 1 bar in the guesthouse. One of the restaurants - Kiti Moto, listed above - is dedicated to pork only, which is difficult to find in East Africa. A local kind of place, it is owned by a cool Maasai guy named Steven who speaks perfect English. Tsh 12,000 - 15,000 (Oct 2014).
- 5 Arusha Torch Budget Inn. Clean and bright spacious rooms as well as friendly staff and the central location make this a welcoming place attracting both tourist and business travelers. Breakfast includes a delicious fruit juice, coffee/tea, omelet and some bread & jam. dbl from US$30 (incl. breakfast).
- 6 Tanzania Mountain Retreat Lodge and Camp, ☏ . Tanzania Mountain Retreat offers affordable to luxury accommodation in a garden oasis at the base of Mount Meru. Camping starting from €5 and lodging starting from €35. Camping includes use of showers, bath and facilities. Dining only is available with reservation from €3. Breakfast is buffet style with fruit platter, coffee/tea, eggs, chapati, fish and more. €5.
- 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.
- Tumaini Cottage, Arusha (turn left before you reach Happy Sausage from Nairobi Rd, then follow the road all the way to the end), ☏ . Wireless Internet.
- 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.
- 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.
- The Arusha Hotel, Main Rd. 4-star hotel with modern, well-decorated rooms and lovely staff. US$160.
- The Outpost Lodge, Serengeti Rd.. A lodge in the old mansion of the Grzimek family. Has a pool, green gardens, fast Wifi, bar. Spacious rooms with stone floors, plenty of hot water. Around the corner from the African Tulip. US$81 (double room).
- 7 Briston Hotel. 5-star hotel with spacious, clean rooms. double US$50.
- 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.
- The African Tulip, 44/1 Serengeti Rd. A small, well-liked luxury hotel for a reasonable price. A good one! US$230.
- [dead link] 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.), ☏ . 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 Tsh 10,000-12,000). Dinner 6:30PM-10:30PM (average Tsh 20,000-40,000) US$200-350.
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.
In 2013 and 2014 Arusha experienced bomb attacks. They have targeted religious sites and figures, restaurants and hotels frequented by visitors.
Avoid drinking the local water, even when using water purification drops/tablets. The region has an unusually high level of fluoride in its natural water sources.
- 2 Mica Computer Services, Azimo St. (opposite Arusha Declaration Museum), ☏ . 8AM-6PM. Friendly computer store in the heart of town selling computers, accessories and software. Toner and ink cartridges, empty CDs and DVDs. Will burn your pics for free of charge.
Arusha has different organizations with volunteering opportunity
- Dunia Salama Foundation, Usa River, works in environmental preservation, children's educational support, health, digital rights and Internet pPromotion: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Arusha National Park
- Ngorongoro Crater
- Lake Manyara National Park
- Serengeti National Park
- Katavi National Park
- Mahale Mountain National Park
- Gombe Stream National Park