The city of Arusha is located in Northern Tanzania and, at a population of 416,442, it is the capital of the Arusha Region. Arusha sits at the foot of Mount Meru and thus, enjoys a temperate climate, with temperatures less extreme than other parts of Africa. Among the most popular destinations in the area are several national parks, including Tarangire National Park, Lake Manyara National Park, Serengeti National Park, Arusha National Park, and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. In addition, from Arusha, you also have easy access to Mount Meru and Mount Kilimanjaro.
- +Visiting several different National Parks in the area
- +Climbing Mount Meru
- +Admiring Mount Kilimanjaro
- +Experiencing the markets
- +Going on day-trips in nearby villages
- +Coffee walk
About Arusha City
Arusha City is a complex place that is very interesting to any visitor. It can be considered quite different from the typical African experience, because it offers quality restaurants and accommodation that can be viewed as almost luxurious, compared to African safari conditions. In addition, the climate is temperate and the inhabitants enjoy a bit of greenery throughout the year. This difference in climate and environment is owed to its proximity to Mt. Meru and its altitude.
Arusha is an excellent starting point for safaris and it is close to a multitude of beautiful national parks, including Arusha National Park, Serengeti National Park, Lake Manyara National Park, Tarangire National Park, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, as well as Mount Kilimanjaro and, of course, Mount Meru.
The city is considered a veritable safari capital of N Tanzania, so the selection is wide and diverse. You can find plenty of offers, tours, souvenirs and all sorts of other offerings of unique experiences or memories of Tanzania and Arusha.
People & culture
Arusha is a quite diverse and multicultural city, as it hosts a multitude of different backgrounds, including Indian-Tanzanian, indigenous Bantu, Arab-Tanzanian, as well as white American and white European, albeit in considerably smaller proportions.
The major religions that characterize the population in the city of Arusha are Hindu, Muslim, Jewish and Christian, but the latter two are less encountered.
In fact, Arusha is considered to be an important international diplomatic location, serving the role of capital of the East African Community.
Arusha can be accessed by air, via the two airports: Arusha Municipal Airport and Kilimanjaro International Airport. Arusha Municipal Airport features only charter and domestic flights to Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar, while Kilimanjaro National Airport offers flights to and from Nairobi, Addis Ababa, Dar es Salaam, Amsterdam and others.
Should you wish to reach Arusha from Nairobi, there is a coach available. Buses also run between Moshi and Arusha.
When to Go & Weather
- The dry season in Arusha is from June until October, while the rainy seasons are from March to April and from November to December, with August being the driest month and April the wettest.
- The highest temperatures are felt in February and July is the coolest month of the year.
- Arusha benefits from a temperate climate, thanks to its location at the foot of Mount Meru and its altitude, which grants it a different environment from most African cities. The maximum temperatures reach about 27 degrees Celsius, while the minimum is of about 12.
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Arusha, in its current site, was settled in the 1830s, South of Mount Kilimanjaro. In 1896, Germans conquered Arusha, with a permanent presence having been established by 1900. In 1916, however, Arusha was taken over by the British in World War I, and after the war, missionaries started pouring in from Greece, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Arusha has been a crucial location in the history of Tanzania, and it continues to be important both for cultural and economic reasons. Despite its importance, Arusha was only declared a city as recently as 2006.
Today, Arusha is the capital of the region, and it is significant because of its touristic importance. Arusha drives tourism in the area, and it is the starting point for most safari circuits and trips. Almost all of the national parks on the Northern circuit can be reached via Arusha, with the closest being Arusha National Park. It is not as popular as others on the circuit, but it makes for a good quick trip or a half-day game drive, which is attractive to many of the tourists and visitors that come around these parts. Especially as national park tourism has increased over the years, Arusha has become an essential part of the process.
Arusha is incredibly rich in wildlife, scattered all over its various national parks, especially Serengeti National Park or the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. The closest, however, is Arusha National Park, which is among the smallest and not as popular as others, but still incredibly beautiful. The park has a wide range of wildlife, including zebra, buffalo, the blue monkey, giraffe, the black-and-white colobus monkey, as well as leopards and African elephants, which are not seen as often. Lions are missing from the park, but there are various types of birds that can be admired. For lions, herds of migrant elephants and other impressive and unique views of wildlife, the other parks in the Northern region will serve that purpose.
Habitats are very diverse in the region and across the many parks, you can find a variety of ecosystems set in place in order to support the different kinds of wildlife. From Miombo vegetation and savanna to open plains, rainforests and many, many others, flora definitely comes in a variety of forms. This way, the wildlife can hide in the tall grass, graze in the plains, live in the trees of the rainforests, etc. The most important component for the long-term sustainability of the ecosystem is balance. As long as all the flora and fauna are present and undisturbed, the region and wildlife can be properly conserved.
One of the special activities that are offered in Arusha is a tour of a coffee plantation, also known as “coffee walk”. On such a trip, the visitors have the chance to follow the journey of the coffee bean from the time it is harvested and up to the point where it is sent into the world to be enjoyed by coffee lovers everywhere. This trip not only offers insight into what is a fascinating process, but it also focuses on its ecological and sustainable aspect.
Coffee plantations boost the local economy, by offering jobs to the locals, and they develop the area. The vast majority of the coffee produced in Tanzania is planted and harvested by small, local farmers who ensure sustainability. Everything is done in an eco-friendly way, which benefits everyone, from the locals and the environment to the tourism industry and the economy.
Arusha is a major supporter of conservationism and the preservation of the environment, wildlife, and their natural habitats and makes consistent efforts to ensure that the national parks and reserves remain as wild and unaffected by human activity as possible. At any given time, there are several projects going on, which are all meant to secure the ecological integrity of the area, given that it retains a large percentage of the protected regions in Tanzania.
- The Maasai, the first settlers to arrive in Arusha, are still present in the city and the region, in general. In fact, the Maasai village is a place of extraordinary historical and cultural significance.
- Arusha National Park provides a unique activity that is not offered in any of the other national parks in the country – canoe safari. While driving safari and walking safari are common, canoe safari is specific to Arusha National Park, and it provides you with the chance to experience the Momela Lakes in a special way.
- Mount Kilimanjaro offers a spectacular view from a few of the national parks, but so does Mount Meru. In fact, Mount Meru can be climbed in about four days, granted a ranger will accompany you. The climb is one of the best in the whole of Africa, and it will offer you the chance to come face to face with various forms of wildlife, as well as see the impressive asymmetric caldera.
- The Ngorongoro Crater is not the only one in the area; the Ngurdoto Crater is lesser known but just as interesting. In addition, you can see a lot of types of wildlife here, as the crater serves as the home for elephants, baboons, buffalos, and others.