Capital of the Arusha Region, in the north of Tanzania, the city of Arusha boasts a population of 400,000 and a location close to some superb safari areas – the Serengeti, Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Lake Manyara, and Tarangire National Park – as well as the spectacular Lake Natron.
The city is also situated on the southern slopes of dormant volcano Mount Meru, with the mountain providing a very majestic backdrop. We tend to book Arusha for travellers just passing through on their way to any of the safari regions, but we are also happy to arrange longer stays here!
The history of Arusha begins with its settling during the 1830s by Maasai from a community to the south of Mount Kilimanjaro. It became something of a trade centre, reaching its heyday in the 1860s on the extension of the trade route through Pangani Valley. Goods exchanged included honey, beer, livestock, and skins.
In 1896 the Germans conquered Arusha, setting up a military fort in 1900, but this victory was fairly short lived, as the British took the city during the First World War. There followed years of expansion, only for the Great Depression to take hold until 1940. However, the area underwent another period of growth throughout the Second World War years. In 1967, the Arusha Declaration was signed, and today the city is host to the intergovernmental East African Community. Its development has been quite extraordinary!
Visitors to Arusha enjoy a temperate climate, due to the city’s altitude. Its airport is in the west and the majority of properties we recommend are not too far from the airport, on the outskirts of Arusha. Onsea House, Arusha Coffee Lodge, Lake Duluti Lodge, and many more provide a peaceful base from which to sample as much or as little of city life as you desire!
If you opt to head into the heart of the city, there is plenty to do. Attractions include the famous clock tower, the Bishop’s Cathedral, the National Natural History Museum, and a smaller museum with information about the Arusha Declaration. The Maasai Market is well worth a visit, offering lots of curios and hearkening back to the city’s beginnings as a centre of trade. For more handicrafts, you can check out the Cultural Heritage Centre, which has an art gallery too!
There are also some great cafés and restaurants, offering both local and international cuisine. Arusha specialities include nyama ndizi (a meat and banana soup) and ugali (a stiff maize) mixed with beans, greens, and a hearty meat sauce. This city also loves barbecue, preferably washed down with a cold beer! Fried potatoes with egg is a popular option too.
Arusha is also renowned for its exciting nightlife, especially in the residential district of Sekei, in the north-west. And sports fans will be interested to know that the city contains the home ground of the national rugby team and local football team, in addition to the Arusha Motor Sports Club. Vroom!
If you are interested in including Arusha in your itinerary, just get in touch with us for more information.