9 Things to do in Arusha
Arusha, Tanzania was our next destination and couldn`t wait, this was the 3rd time am visiting Arusha and I must admit each time is always different. It is said the soul should always stand ajar, ready to welcome the ecstatic experience. We will delve in and delineate things to do in Arusha, Tanzania in 48Hours and what is required of you at the Border, but before that, we have to take care of how to access Arusha from Nairobi, Kenya.
Arusha Boast of a Mountain Backdrop known as Mount Meru, the second-highest mountain in Tanzania. Mentioning Arusha without Mount Meru sounds incomplete. This Incredible town is the gateway to the most famous destinations in Tanzania, to the west lies the Serengeti National Park, home to the Big Five, Lion, Buffalo, Leopard, Elephant and Rhinos, plus all types of bird and other animals’ species. Ngorongoro Crater, Arusha National Park, Lake Manyara and Tarangire National Park.
It is serviced by Arusha Airport (A Small Domestic Airport) which is to the west and Kilimanjaro International Airport to the East of Arusha.
How to get to Arusha from Nairobi.
We started our Safari to Arusha from Nairobi Using Mombasa Road, Through Kitengela Town (Kajiado County). Ibisil and finally we were at the Namaga Border. Having covered 165 Kilometers.
Most of the inbound Tourists who want to connect to Tanzania may not follow this route, they mostly End their Kenyan Safari Either in Amboseli National Park which they connect to Namanga Border or End their Safari at Masai Mara then connect Tanzania through the Isinya Border.
What you need at the various Borders
We were armed with our Yellow Fever Certificates, those who didn’t have received, the Jab on at the Border at only Kes1, 000. (I know soon we shall require COVID-19 Certificate) , Passport and those who didn`t have they had applied for temporal Passports at E citizen which cost Kes300/ USD3. In 1 hour, we were done. Did some Exchange 1Kes=22Tsh 1USD=Tsh2200. Please note this is subject to change.
What Non-Residents Require.
You should have your E-Visa which is and can only be applied to through the Immigration Website (Link Provided). Please note you should apply at least within 7 working Days before arrival ($50). However, if Online is just not your thing or you had a short notice to travel, worry not as you can obtain the Visa at the Various Borders or Airports at $50 This is for the Ordinary Visa (Single Entry) for Non-USA Citizens. If you are from the USA, you only qualify for Multiple Entry Visa which goes for $100. Please don’t forget Yellow fever Certificate. Even though sometimes they may not ask for it, just carry in case they do.
We embarked on our Incredible Safari to Arusha, despite the road being too straight and tempting to step on it, please make sure you adhere to all Speed limit and always make sure your Safety belts are fastened as the authorities there are more than strict with these. So, we arrived at 3:00 PM, It was a Five Hour drive, a distance of 278 Kilometers.
In Arusha, the streets are blazing with life. Every turn you make there are bubbly and happy people doing what they do best to earn a living, across the street you see Maasai selling their artefacts and jewellery, wearing red checkered attires. We drove away from the city but as we drove, we couldn`t get enough of these charming and infectious smiles from the locals.
About 6kilometers from Arusha CBD. We checked in at Okaseni Lodge, it is a Mid-Sized affordable Lodge, which has 28 Guest Room, free Wi-Fi, Free Parking Area. Television in Rooms, Hot Showers, bar or lounge will be opened all through. Their services were simply great, to say the least. Check-in Time 1:00 PM and Check out at 11:00 AM.
Upon arrival, I could smell barbequed chicken and I remember most of the stomachs Gurgling and salivating. They were ready for us, we swiftly checked in and off we were at the restaurant, hands were washed but the anticipation of this meal was something else. At last, here we are on that line it was a self-service, most of us ate till we dropped, literally.
After the meal, we chilled at the Lounge and before we knew it, it was dark.
Things to do in Arusha.
We chilled at the Lodge until late and decided to Start exploring Arusha, we dotted a sketch itinerary which I will pull as the things to do in Arusha.
1.) Night Life
After we had our dinner we decided to drive to Arusha and witness what happens after Dark. We drove slowly across the town. We had our local guide. Arusha is quiet during the night and very few people you will see after the 10:00 PM, You might think it is a ghost town unless things have changed over time. We drove to a chilling joint. Triple-A Club Arusha. We chilled out until late and drove back to our Lodge. The joint was cool, I couldn`t recommend it any better.
2.) Cultural Heritage Centre.
The following Day, after a power breakfast, we drove to Arusha town to visit all the places we had dotted down. Our First Stop was the cultural Heritage Centre. This is the Home of Arts and carvings. It is drum-shaped with spears. Inside this Dome, you will witness all kinds of rich carvings, Tanzania heritage and the Makonde`s (Makonde people are an ethnic group south-east of Tanzania, Northern of Mozambique and few presence in Kenya, they rarely interact with other people but them) ways of life. You will spot the Makonde people with their facial Tattoos and body modifications.
Apart from that, there are also the Kazuri Beads, Tanzanian spices, vast array of ornaments and many more.
It was founded in 1994 and the Entrance is Free.
Shanga is a socially conscious enterprise founded in 2007, it hosts workshops allowing disabled locals to do incredible crafts, glass blowing from recycled materials. They then sell this end product, they are the perfect gifts and souvenirs.
4.) Street Food.
We could not return to our lodge, we needed full day in Arusha, our Local guide suggested `Nyama Choma` (Grilled Goat Meat) Place, where we could have our Lunch, Aaah Street food has been my thing for a long time, I have never known why it is always delicious more than the uptown cuisine, I guess it is because they are close allies with my Stomach, I only had a running stomach out of street food only when I was being introduced from then onwards we are always at peace with Street food. We arrive at the Choma Place, we order accordingly accompanied by Ugali, the Nyama Choma was not only surprisingly affordable but also incredibly delicious.
5.) The Tanzanite Experience.
After we were full and refreshed, we embarked on our next destination which was the Tanzanite.
The local guide told us a short story regards to Tanzanite, he said that, one day as a Maasai was looking after his cattle, he saw a lightening kind of a flash light that struck the earth and turned the surrounding stones into blue, which now Tanzania prides in it as it is claimed Tanzanites are gemstones which are only found in the Republic of Tanzania. They are said to be rarer than Diamonds. These expensive and precious stones are found at Jewelers and Stores in Arusha.
6.) Lake Duluti
Named by the Wameru of Tanzania, it is a crater lake, Ideal for a half-day trip from Arusha, around 13 Kilometers, it is home for several bird species, there are lots of activities including Canoeing which you can opt to compete with your friends, bird watching and hiking to the nearby forest.
You will be able to view great view of Mount Meru and when the sky is clear you will be able to view the Mt Kilimanjaro Peak from a distance.
7.) Arusha Tower
What startled me, is the fact about Arusha Tower. Did you know this tower marks the exact midpoint between Cairo and cape town? This means it is in the centre line of Africa! However, I am yet to clarify this, and once I do, I will update accordingly.
8.) Botanical Gardens
It is said children have a full-time occupation. It is called PLAY, let them be occupied by it from their early years until their twilight years. This is the perfect place to take your kids for a play in Arusha. We didn’t have kids so we decided to be. It was fun feeling like one once again, those games were simply awesome. I liked the Play!
9.) Olpopongi Maasai Cultural Village and Museum.
This destination is way outside Arusha we did not make to go there but if you can, it is a worthy place to visit. Our guide gave us interesting stories about the place, so it is worth Mentioning.
“Olpopongi Maasai Cultural Village & Museum is one of the first authentic Maasai Boma with a Masai museum. You Share 24hours with the native Maasai, you will learn all the Maasai activities, do a walking safari, visit those Maasai Boma, Camp Fire and BBQ, plus evening Maasai Ceremonies, you will be startled by the Traditional Maasai Lunch”, quipped our guide. “So, how far is it from Arusha?” It is more than 70Kilometers, a day trip is doable from Arusha but it is advisable to spend a night there to maximize the incredible Experience.
Arusha is an incredibly beautiful city, whether you are just doing a day trip or on transit as we have seen is a gateway to giant destinations in Tanzania. Arusha people are very friendly and polite, they are the kind of people you accidentally step on them and they are the first to say sorry. However, don’t take that for weakness. When taking photos please make sure you ask first, they got offended whenever we took pictures without their consent. The life there is more affordable than most of the cities.
You will rarely spot a recent make of any vehicle apart from the Tour Land cruisers but at least their roads a way better than most of the shitty corrupt Countries, whereby spotting a 2020 Range rover Sport is no surprise but the roads are still a dream.