Arusha, Tanzania Travel Guide
In northern Tanzania lies the country’s absolute safari city, Arusha. If you want to mingle with the animals in the Serengeti National Park or explore the Ngorongoro Crater, your excursion will probably start in Arusha.
In the city at the foot of the famous mountain Mount Meru, live almost 500,000 inhabitants. The city has a multicultural community and houses both native Bantu people, Arab and Indian Tanzanians, as well as minority groups of Europeans and Americans. For the same reason, many different religions are also practiced in the city. Here, Muslims, Jews, Christians and Hindus live side by side.
According to softwareleverage, Arusha is located in the north of Tanzania. Arusha’s location among some of Tanzania’s largest nature reserves has made the city a typical starting point for tourist safaris. With close proximity to Africa’s largest mountain Kilimanjaro, there are also a number of mountaineers who visit Arusha on their way
Experiences in Arusha
Arusha National Park
Arusha National Park is located 25 km northeast of Arusha city, and spreads over 137 km2. Despite the park’s modest size, it is still rich in both nature and wildlife. There are not nearly as many predators living here as in the surrounding popular reserves. This, in turn, allows you to get even closer to, for example, giraffes, zebras and monkeys, as the animals are more relaxed.
If you want to get at eye level with some of the animals in the park, you can go on a canoe trip in Momella Lake. In this shallow lake you will experience the beautiful pink flamingos and waders, which have their habitat in the lake. In itself, a boat trip on the lake is also a beautiful sight from which you have a perfect view of the forest scenery.
Mount Meru is also located in Arusha National Park. The mountain is with its 4566 m. Tanzania’s second highest mountain. Mount Meru is actually an active cone volcano, but the last eruption dates back to 1910. There are opportunities for trekking and mountaineering experiences on the mountain. Here, however, there are mandatory requirements for the accompaniment of a guide.
Serengeti National Park
With good reason, the park was called Siringit “The Endless Plains” among the Masai. The 15,000 km2 plain, which can accommodate Zealand twice, offers beautiful nature and rich wildlife. Among wildebeest, giraffes and bird species that you probably have not heard of at all, the lucky ones can also get acquainted with The Big Five.
The Big Five is represented by the lion, the leopard, the black rhino, the elephant and the buffalo. The term is created among hunters on big game hunting, where the recognition is greatest when these African animals come under the target. Today, however, hunting is banned in most of Tanzania.
On a safari through the Serengeti, however, you must be extra lucky, to experience the phenomenon. Especially the black rhino hides well. Partly because the animal had almost been exterminated in the 1980s and partly because they prefer to stay in the lush shrubbery.
The Masai have also referred to the park as Siringitu “The place where the earth remains forever”, and the earth is something very special. The Serengeti is part of a unique ecosystem with the Ngorongoro crater, which creates a fantastic breeding ground for, among other things, coffee plantations.
Three hours drive from Arusha is the 260 km2 Ngorongoro Crater. The drive is long, but the experience is also great. Here, too, a rich wildlife can be experienced. However, you will not encounter the giraffe whose legs are too long for the steep crater.
Until 1956, the Ngorongoro Crater was part of the Serengeti National Park. Due to a conflict with the local Masai, the area was downgraded to a conservation area the same year. That is, the Masai now have permission to settle in the area.
A completely unique experience at Ngorongoro Crater is balloon safari. You will soon forget the feeling of the early morning breeze as you hover over the savannah in a hot air balloon. The experience ends with breakfast like you have never tried it before. On the savannah, champagne brunch will be served while you soak up the many impressions, scents and sounds for you.
The absolute jewel of Kilimanjaro National Park is the mountain of the same name. To reach the summit of Uhuru Peak, you must ascend to 5895 m altitude, making Kilimanjaro the highest mountain in Africa. The people themselves call the mountain “the roof of Africa”. The statement represents the possibility of having an entire continent under one’s feet. There is also said to be volcanic activity on top of the mountain, but since one has to go 100,000 years back in time since the last eruption, the volcano is considered dormant.
The trip up the mountain is not easy, but it is beautiful and what awaits you to the top is one of nature’s great gifts. In addition to stunning views from the top of Africa, you will also be able to experience the ice cap at the top of the mountain. How many years ahead this is possible, however, is not known, as the ice is melting to a violent degree due to climate change. Where the ice cap covered 12 km2 in 1912, in 2007 it was measured to cover only 2 km2.
Mt. Meru Curios & Craft market
Near the bell tower in the center of Arusha, is the city’s largest market. The market, also called the Masai market, is the perfect place to buy gifts to take home to loved ones. Here you will find Arusha’s widest selection of wooden figures, crafts, paintings, jewelery and the like.
In November 2014, the market burned to the bottom. For the Masai who lived off their turnover here, it was a very tragic event. There has since been much speculation as to whether the fire was started for political reasons, but this remains unclear. However, the market is up and running again, and remains an exquisite place for city visitors.
A quarter of an hour’s drive from Arusha city center is Arusha Farmers market. Here is the place if you want to buy delicious homemade food, organic vegetables, cheeses and the like. This market is not very crowded with tourists, so the local atmosphere can be fully experienced.
However, tourism is increasing, which can be felt in initiatives such as a local chef entertaining and showing what you can make from the locally grown food. On August 8 every year, “Nane nane day” is held. This day celebrates the recognition farmers have received for contributing to Tanzania’s economy.
Via via café
In central Arusha is a very differently constructed, Belgian-run café. The café is built like a typical African village with nine outdoor bungalows and thatched roofs. At Via via you can eat a delicious African dish, enjoy a cocktail and have a chat with the locals or other tourists.
Every Thursday night you can dance to African rhythms when a local band gives a concert at the café. Around midnight, more dancing and more cocktails are planned, when the cafe turns into an open-air disco. There is still room for young and old, tourists and locals. Via via also arranges and lays out houses for film evenings, exhibitions and other cultural events.
The history of Arusha
From deserted plain to popular trading town
The city of Arusha was founded in the 1830s by the Masai who farmed on the southern side of Mount Kilimanjaro. In Arusha, they began to grow and produce everything from grain and honey to beer and tobacco. In the 1860s, the demand for the goods grown by the Masai increased. Therefore, the route to Arusha was extended, and a real trading town was seriously created.
Under German rule
Like the rest of Tanzania, Arusha was marked by the colonizations of Africa. In 1896, Arusha was conquered by the Germans, who, however, had to surrender to the British during World War I. In 1928, the expansion of the railway to Arusha was initiated, which increased the trade industry in the city once again. This gave life to the city and in the period 1940-1948 the modest population increased from 2000 inhabitants to 5000 inhabitants.
Arusha, a great inspiration
Arusha has been a source of inspiration for many African cities, and a leader in the direction of a modern Tanzania. It was in this city, among other places, that the British signed Tanganyika’s Declaration of Independence in 1961. Eight years later, the Arusha Declaration was drafted and signed. Here were written down a large number of objectives for the city, which dealt with agricultural development, the creation of social equality and economic prosperity. Most of the objectives have not yet been achieved. Yet the Arusha Declaration has had an impact on Tanzania as we know it today.