by Chris Walker Bush
November 29, 2015

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.


arusha culture


The main draw of Arusha is its proximity to Tarangire, Lake Manyara, Ngorongoro, and the Serengeti – but there’s more to the mountain town than simply a starting point for safari adventures.

If you have time free in Arusha, Shadows of Africa can recommend a number of interesting ways to spend your time – whether you’re into culture, the great outdoors, or animals.

  •  Mount Meru: Arusha sits at the foot of Mount Meru, the confident and handsome brother to often shy Kilimanjaro. If climbing Kilimanjaro is your goal, Mount Meru is often recommended as a good training hike – and offers an amazing view of both the city and Kilimanjaro to those who make it to the top.
  • Mount Kilimanjaro: You don’t need to climb Mount Kilimanjaro to take in its majesty. Shadows of Africa can arrange for you to spend a day hiking to the first hut on the mountain, allowing you to get a taste of what climbers will experience over their 5 to 8 day hike.
  • Marangu Village Tour: If you want to experience a little local life, a visit to the nearby village of Marangu offers some insights into Chaga culture through visits to ancient Chaga tunnels, a local organic coffee plantation, and a scenic hike to an idyllic waterfall.
  • Arusha National Park: One of the only parks in Tanzania where it is possible to get out of the car and take part in either a canoe safari or a walking safari, Arusha National Park is home to Africa’s largest giraffe population as well as plenty of baboons, antelopes, and more.
  • Kibowa Orphanage: If you want to give something back while you’re in Tanzania, we can arrange a visit to a local orphanage with which we’ve partnered. Spend an afternoon speaking with and playing with these local orphans, and make a donation to help make their futures a little brighter.


local lunch arusha safari

Arusha has an ever-growing variety of restaurants serving both local and 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.

  • Kilimanjaro Spur: The popular South African chain of steakhouses has a presence here in Arusha, and it’s a good bet if you’re looking for a burger, a burrito, or a thick cut of meat. The outdoor play area is particularly good for those traveling with kids.
  • Le Patio: With fairy lights draped over the trees and a bonfire roaring, Le Patio is not only one of Arusha’s favourite places to dance, but also serves up a good variety of international cuisine including burgers, fish & chips, pasta, and pizzas.

africa luxury food tour

  • Picasso: It doesn’t look like much from the outside, but Picasso is a fast rising playing 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-fire pizzas.


volunteer arusha

As the starting point for all visits to the northern safari circuit, Arusha has a huge range of accommodations.

Shadows of Africa has access to an exhaustive selection to suit any taste or budget, but a few of our favourites are listed below.

  • McElly’s: If you’re traveling on a budget, McElly’s has everything you need. Located in the Arusha downtown, McElly’s is a simple business hotel offering a place to sleep, a restaurant with a good selection, and easy access to the amenities of the city.
  • Planet Lodge: For those wanting a little more luxury, Planet Lodge is Shadows of Africa’s preferred medium level accommodation. With rooms being traditional style bures, you get a distinctly African experience when you overnight here.
  • Lake Duluti Lodge: With a stunning view of Lake Duluti, Lake Duluti Lodge is our preferred luxury offering in Arusha. Mixing European luxury with a distinctly African aesthetic, Lake Duluti Lodge is a huge favourite with our staff and our guests.

arusha tanzania culture

This entry was posted in Tanzania Attractions, What to do, Tanzania.
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