Arusha is dubbed the gateway to Tanzania’s Northern tourism circuit. The town is host to Mount Meru, several National Parks, craters among other attractions. It borders Kenya from the south at Namanga Town.
We set off for a four-day road trip from Nairobi via Mombasa road and through the industrious town of Athi River on to the cosmopolitan Kitengela. Kitengela town is one of Nairobi’s bedroom. The town is host to lots of Nairobi’s population that lives in this town that’s fast growing. A majority of work in the capital and stay here. We drive through Kajiado town, Isinya, Ibisil and finally we are at the Namanga Border having covered 163 kilometres.
In about 30minutes we are cleared at the border point and embark on our final destination that’s about 110 kilometres away. The road is clear and quite straight. It almost feels endless, there’s minimal traffic expect for the locals along the several small towns on the road. Ensure you and all passengers in your vehicle have their seat belts on. Also, avoid over speeding, there are cops all over checking on the motorist stick to the speed stipulated on the road signs. Over speeding even with zero to one kilometre will have you fined by Tanzania’s Police. Not having a seat belt, one is equally a crime fine-able by the Tanzanian law. (You do not want to find yourself on the wrong side of the law in this country)!
The landscapes are breathtaking, you will encounter Maasai’s with their livestock crossing from one side to the road then another. As we approach Arusha we can see the peak of Mount Meru from a distance, she is a sight to behold.
We arrive Arusha town late afternoon having covered a total of 273 kilometres and taken about five hours on the road. We check in at The Africana Grand Hotel. I can highly recommend this hotel as it is relatively cheap at Tshs. 65,000 which is equivalent to 3,000 Kenya shillings for bed & Breakfast. The hotel is located in a moderately quiet neighbourhood, has good food, friendly staff, clean rooms with a view of Mount Meru from a distance, and a walking distance to the city. (What more would we ask, for that price?)
Things to do
- Snake Park & Maasai Museum
A major attraction to the majority of Arusha’s population. The Park and Museum offer one an opportunity to see various snake species, birds as well as other reptiles like Crocodiles.
The highlight of our visit here is the Maasai Museum, we came close to understanding the Maasai culture what is well exhibited in the Museum. We also experience dressing up as a Maasai, which was quite some fun. There are camels which are a major highlight for the children. Do you fancy a camel ride? Then visit the Snake Park in Arusha.
Entry Fee: 8400 Tsh and equivalent to about Kshs. 400 per person.
2. Cultural Heritage Centre
This is a must visit while in Arusha. The Cultural Heritage Centre is the home of arts and carvings. It is drum shaped with a shield and spear and the only of its kind in Africa. Inside the gallery, one can experience all forms of carvings with the highlight being the Makonde’s way of life. One can also purchase any art and or artefact that one fancies. Outside all kinds of artefacts. There are also several other shops like Kazuri beads, Kikoy, One Way, the spice world where one can purchase some Tanzanian souvenirs. No entry fee is charged.
3. Shopping Experience (Local market & AIM shopping mall)
Ideal for that free afternoon the local market allows one to explore the town while shopping like a local. At Aim mall, there all kind of designer shops, a food court where one can experience different kinds of cuisines as well as a well-stocked supermarket where one can get suppliers if needed.
4. Sample local foods /Street foods
Want to travel like a local? Then try the famous chips mayai found in just about every other corner in Arusha among other local cuisines that are available in most local eateries.
5. Monuments: The city clock & Declaration Monument
A major tourist attraction. The Arusha declaration Monument is famously known as the Mnara wa Azimio La Arusha which simply means a monument in commemoration of The Arusha Declaration. It was unveiled by the Chama Cha Mapinduzi in commemoration of 10 years of the declaration.
6. Lake Duluti:
Located 13 kilometres from Arusha town is Lake Duluti. A crater lake where one can enjoy a boat ride, canoeing, walking with the Duluti Reserve and enjoy a simple local dish at the several restaurants around the Lake. It also doubles up as an ideal picnic location. Read more about it here
7. Night Life
One would not leave Arusha without having experienced nightlife. Club D is quite ideal. If you enjoy a night of dancing and fun then Club D is the place to be. There is also Le Patio Restaurant that doubles up as an ideal location for a quiet afternoon where one can enjoy some pizza and coffee and a fun restaurant by night. There is a fireplace that’s lit in the evenings, right outside the patios’ giving the place an ambience of fun and relaxation.
What you need
- Passport: Ensure you get a visa at the immigration point at Namanga. If you do not have a passport, get a temporary passport via E-Citizen at Kshs. 300/-
- Yellow Fever certificate
- A camera: For those memorable experiences
- Pocket Monies: You can change your monies at licensed forex bureaus.