Passing a restaurant you smell barbequed chicken and your stomach gurgles. Just as you consider lunch, a young man approaches and shakes your hand. He wants to show you his artwork, gorgeous paintings of a giant volcano. But wait! You’ve seen this image before. Turning around, Mount Meru towers over the city. It’s the same mountain in the painting. You settle on an agreeable price, buy the painting, and walk onward into the bustle.


Welcome to Arusha, Center of Known Safari Universe!

Arusha is located in Northern Tanzania and is the second largest city in Tanzania with half a million residents. It’s important to understand Arusha because your safari will start and end here. And though you may not begin to fully appreciate Arusha’s commotion upon arrival, its amenities will be relaxing after days or weeks on the safari circuit.



When in Arusha, what should you do? You may only have a day or half-day, depending on schedule and flights. Here are five of my favorite activities to check out:


1. The Markets

Looking for gifts or fabrics for family and friends? Arusha is a great place to start. Spend a morning at either the Central Market or the Maasai Market for some world-class bargaining. The farmer’s markets are amazing, too.

Markets A Must Do In Arusha Maasai Market


2. Natural History Center

This is by far the best museum in the city. If no travel is complete without a museum visit, look no further. The Natural History Center boasts an excellent exhibit on human evolution, among other things. Tanzania is the geographic center of the human story, so this is pretty powerfull.


3. Shanga

No place in Arusha warms your heart like Shanga, a nonprofit employing over 70 Tanzanians with disabilities. Each worker performs tasks such as glassblowing, weaving, and textiles. Come meet the talented folks who work here and leave with some memories


4. Tanzanite

Legend has it, one day a local Masaai saw a bolt lightning strike and turn some nearby stones a magnificent blue, and now we have this: Tanzanite, a blue gemstone “a thousand times rarer than diamonds. Though the more scientific reason has to do more with tectonics and continental uplift than lightning, this much is true: you won’t find Tanzanite native to anywhere else on the planet so you better seek it out while in Tanzania. This ultra-rare (ultra-expensive) gemstone can be found at jewelers and stores in Arusha. The Tanzanite Experience offers the best tour in town. Here’s a short video to learn more:


5. Day Trip: Lake Duliti

Bird and boat lovers take note! Located only 10 miles from Arusha, this lake is set to a gorgeous backdrop of forest and volcanoes. Witness dozens of bird and reptile species, from lounging monitor lizards to nose-diving kingfishers. Renting a canoe is highly recommended.

Day Trip To Lake Duliti From Arusha Photo Credit: Nicholas Triolo

There you have it! And even the shortest of strolls in the streets will delight