by Chris
November 11, 2019

Welcome to Arusha!

While it may not be the Tanzanian capital, Arusha is the undisputed safari capital of Tanzania, if not the world.

A bustling city that acts as the gateway to such legendary parks as Ngorongoro and the Serengeti, Arusha is a sometimes dizzying but always charming mix of cultures, styles, and peoples that every safari enthusiast will someday pass through.

Serviced by both Arusha Airport and Kilimanjaro Airport, Arusha is the starting point and finishing point for most Tanzanian safaris.

Day Trips from Arusha

Whether you're in Arusha for business or pleasure, the city offers a wealth of fun day trips and excursions.

Maybe you've got a day to spare ahead of your Mount Kilimanjaro climb, or maybe you're killing time before joining us on safari. Regardless of the reason, we've got a number of fun day trips and tours for you to choose from.

Arusha National Park Day Trip

The most accessible national park in Tanzania, Arusha National Park is just a short (1 hour) drive from Arusha proper.

While the park is not home to any big cats or larger mammals, it is an ideal place to spot buffalo, zebras, warthogs, and a variety of primates. In fact, Arusha National Park is the best place in Tanzania to spot black and white colobus monkeys.

With fewer dangerous animals to worry about, Arusha National Park is the ideal place to take a canoe safari or walking safari. With a picnic lunch prepared by Shadows of Africa, this is the perfect way to start (or finish) a longer safari adventure.

At the time of writing, canoe safaris within Arusha National Park are temporarily not taking place. Ask your safari expert about canoe safaris in Lake Manyara National Park as a fun alternative.

Lake Manyara or Tarangire Day Trip

Located between 1.5 and 2.5 hours from Arusha, the twin parks of Lake Manyara and Tarangire offer the more quintessential safari experience.

Home to four of the Big Five (rhinos being the notable exception), both parks are a terrific place to spot lions, elephants, giraffes, zebra, antelope, and a huge variety of other iconic African wildlife.

Tarangire is most famous for having Tanzania's largest elephant population, so if seeing a Tembo in the wild is on your bucket list, this is the perfect place for it. Conversely, Lake Manyara is famous for being one of only two places in the world where you can see tree-climbing lions. It is also a great place to take a canoe safari or a quick walk on the treetop walkway.

Ngorongoro Day Trip

While the Ngorongoro Conservation Area lies approximately four hours' drive from Arusha, it is possible for a particularly ambitious traveler to make the trip in a single day. While we don't usually advise this due to the rushed itinerary, it's a great way to see the World-Heritage listed Ngorongoro Crater when time isn't on your side.

Departing early in the morning, you'll arrive at Ngorongoro Crater in time for a picnic lunch and an afternoon game drive. Short of the Serengeti, Ngorongoro is the best place in Tanzania to spot the Big Five. Rhinos, elephants, buffalo, and lions are especially common sightings at the verdant floor of this stunning natural wonder.

You'll return to Arusha after dark, so be prepared for a long day!

Marangu Village Tour

Located in the Kilimanjaro foothills, the sleepy village of Marangu offers a fascinating window into modern Tanzanian life.

A day tour to Marangu includes visits to a local coffee plantation, a chance to sample locally brewed banana beer, a tour of the Chaga tunnels, and a walk to a gorgeous local waterfall.

If you're feeling particularly adventurous, you can speak to your driver about stopping off at a local restaurant to try some ugali, chips mayai, or fried chicken.

If taking a cultural safari is of interest to you, Shadows of Africa offers a number of cultural tours with a specific focus on learning more about the tribes of Tanzania.

Maji Moto Hot Springs Day Trip

Maji moto means 'hot water' in Swahili, but you'll find the crystal clear waters of this natural hot spring to be quite pleasant.

A bumpy two-hour drive from Arusha, Maji Moto is a popular swimming spot with locals and tourists alike. Shaded by the towering trees that surround the oasis, Maji Moto is a perfect place to take a dip, layout in the sun, and enjoy a local lunch purchased from the vendors on-site.

Kahawa Coffee Tour

Tanzanian coffee is famous around the world for its rich flavors, so why not go straight to the source and try it for yourself?

The Kahawa coffee plantation is located in the village of Nkoaranga, about 25 kilometers from Arusha. Here, you'll have the chance to tour a working coffee plantation, roast and grind your own beans, and enjoy a hot cup of the freshest coffee you'll ever have.

Couple this with a hot local lunch and your own bag of Tanzanian coffee beans to bring home and you've got the recipe for a delicious cultural experience.

Arusha City Walking Tour

While Arusha cannot boast the same cosmopolitan charm as Nairobi or Kenya, there is still plenty to see in Tanzania's safari capital.

A half-day or full-day walking tour of Arusha includes visits to local markets, a chance to dine in a local restaurant, and the guidance of a guide with a fantastic knowledge of the city's past and present.


Get off the beaten track on a thrilling quad-biking tour in the surrounds of Shadows of Africa's very own lodge, Olerai Lodge.

Located in the idyllic Mateves valley on the outskirts of Arusha, the lodge's surrounds are home to bustling local villages and a startling array of wildlife and birdlife. Your guide will take you on a whirlwind tour of the area, teaching you a little about local life along the way.

Cycling Tours

For the more energetic and adventurous traveler, there are a number of cycling day trips to be taken in Arusha and the nearby town of Moshi.

These can range in length from two-hour tours of villages on Arusha's outskirts to half-day tours to Arusha National Park and Mt. Meru, all the way up to full-day cycling tours to local landmarks such as Maji Moto or a full-day spent within Arusha National Park.

If being active is a priority for you, our Nine-Day Adventure Safari is a great way to see a totally different side of Tanzania.

Horseriding Safaris

Working with our local partner, Kaskazi, Shadows of Africa is able to arrange a horse-riding experience that lets you see African wildlife from horseback! You'll feel like one of the explorers of old as you spot zebras and bushbuck from horseback.

It can be a fantastic way to unwind after a long trip in a safari vehicle or as an add-on to begin your safari adventure.

Maasai Beading Class

Shadows of Africa and Olerai Lodge have partnered with the local Maasai population in a number of ways, with many of the Shadows of Africa ground staff being Maasai.

If you're staying at our Olerai Lodge, we can arrange for you to take a traditional beadwork class. Similar activities can also be arranged if you're overnighting at the popular Africa Amini Maasai Lodge or Osiligilai Maasai Lodge, both of which offer Shadows of Africa preferential rates.

Where to Eat in Arusha

It is said that the fastest way to understand a culture is to eat its food, and Tanzania is no different. Featuring a blend of European, Indian, and African flavors, Tanzanian cuisine is a fascinating cultural blend.

For those wanting a taste of home, Arusha has an ever-growing variety of restaurants serving international cuisine. While your hotel is likely to have an in-house restaurant, we can recommend a few good options if you’re feeling adventurous.

  • George's Tavern: A personal favorite of the Shadows of Africa team, George's Tavern is run by a locally based Greek family and offers great European food with terrific service. Dinners and lunches at George's can feel like you're at one big family meal, and the cocktails aren't half bad either!Many Shadows of Africa clients visit George's Tavern on their way to a late flight out of Kilimanjaro.
  • Le Patio: With fairy lights draped over the trees and a bonfire roaring, Le Patio is not only one of Arusha’s favorite places to dance, but also serves up a good variety of international cuisine including burgers, fish & chips, pasta, and pizzas.If you're feeling like a night out on the town, Le Patio is one of the city's most happening night spots.
  • Picasso Cafe: It doesn’t look like much from the outside, but Picasso is a fast-rising player on the local dining scene with everything from sushi to amazing burgers to decadent salads. A great place for brunch, lunch, or dinner.
  • Fig and Olive: Whether you’re there for Thursday’s cocktail night or you’re in the mood for some delicious Mediterranean cuisine, you’re going to love this place. In addition to kebabs and other Middle Eastern & Mediterranean cuisine, they also do wood-fired pizzas.Located at the popular TGT complex, where local expats go to work out, play rugby, or swim laps, Fig & Olive is another popular local nightspot.
  • Chinese Whispers: The #1 rated restaurant in Arusha on TripAdvisor, Chinese Whispers is a European take on traditional Chinese cuisine. If you fancy a beef and black bean or a Mongolian lamb, this is the place to go.If you're looking for more authentic Chinese cuisine, the much more unassuming Chinese Dragon is a Chinese owned and operated business.

Ask in Expert

When it comes to planning your time in Arusha, the Shadows of Africa team has a wealth of experience to draw upon.

With our head office having been located in Arusha since our founding more than a decade ago, we know Arusha inside and out. Many of our foreign team has lived and worked in Arusha for many years, with Inge, Lesia, Julia, and Chris having all called Arusha home at various points.

Ask your Shadows of Africa safari expert about how to maximize your experience in Arusha.

Are you interested in an African safari?

Contact one of our safari experts and we will tailor-make a safari for you!