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10+ Things to See and Do in Arusha

Thanks to its proximity to some of the country’s famous game reserves, Arusha is a popular starting point for safaris in Tanzania. However, the city is not just a gateway town, but has a lot to offer itself. From exhilarating hikes and canoe rides to colourful markets – there are plenty of exciting things to see and do in Arusha. We have put our most beloved attractions in this short but sweet article. This way, you only have to pick your favourite(s) and start exploring. You’re welcome.

Things to Do in Arusha, Tanzania

Hike to the First Camp of Mount Meru (Miriakamba)

It might live in the shadow of its bigger brother, Mount Kilimanjaro, but Mount Meru shouldn’t be overlooked, as it has its own understated beauty and fun challenges for hiking lovers.

The route to Miriakamba Camp is nothing short of a nature lover’s fairytale. One minute, you’re sauntering through mossy forests, the next, you’re stepping into clearings that treat you to sneak peeks of the Meru peak.

And let’s not forget the wildlife. This isn’t your typical stroll through the park, but a live episode of your favourite nature documentary. From mischievous monkeys swinging through the canopy to the occasional majestic buffalo giving you the side-eye – fascinating animals like these add a thrilling layer of unpredictability to your trek.

Miriakamba Huts of Mount Meru with green roof surrounded by the mountain, trees and green fields

Hike to the Mount Meru Waterfall

The hike to the Mount Meru Waterfall (also known as Napuru Waterfall) is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream come true – no ifs, ands, or buts about it. This trail, which takes more or less an hour, leads you through a verdant rainforest where you’ll be greeted by cheeky monkeys. Keep your eyes peeled, as you might also spot some zebras in the distance, various antelopes grazing, or even a lone buffalo staring at you with mild interest.

Reaching the waterfall itself is the highlight of this tour. The sight of the water cascading down roughly 24 metres (80 feet) into a crystal-clear pool will make you gasp for the wonderfully fresh air. Fancy a cool(ing) shower? Go ahead, you’ve definitely deserved it!

And if you decide to dine al fresco with a packed picnic, there’s no better backdrop than these majestic falls – simply breathe, relax, eat, repeat.

Mount Meru waterfall with high cliffs and trees

Take a Walking Safari in Arusha National Park 

During this very special safari, you won’t hear the rumble of an engine, but nothing else than the sound of nature. Together with a guide, you’ll walk across the park and get close to animals like zebras, giraffes, different kinds of antelopes and the park’s famous black-and-white Colobus monkeys. Nice plus: your guide will also tell you more about the local flora and fun facts about the wildlife.

The park is also home to the stunning Ngurdoto Crater, often referred to as the “Little Ngorongoro” – a true haven for a variety of four-legged and winged fellas due to its lush, verdant floor. Another highlight of the park are the Momela Lakes, offering a peaceful setting that contrasts with the wild landscapes around it. If you like birds – or the colour pink – this is your place to be, since countless flamingos have made these lakes their home.

Word of caution: Wildlife interactions in movies look a lot smoother than they are in real life, and the starring role in “I Petted a Lion (and Lived to Regret It)” surely isn’t on anyone’s bucket list 😉 Therefore, please follow the guide’s instructions to the tee. Thanks.

Black-and-white colobus monkey in Arusha National Park, Tanzania

Go Canoeing in Arusha National Park

Let’s stay in Arusha National Park for a little while longer, because it’s oh-so-pretty! How about adding a splash of adventure to your trip with a canoe tour? On the serene waters of Momela Lakes, you can simply paddle your worries away. Here, you’ll feel a million miles away from the hubbub of the city as you take in the tranquil lake views, vibrant wildlife, and fresh mountain air.

Two canoes on with two people each on Lake Momella in Arusha with giraffes in the green grass

Climb Mount Longido

Located just outside of Arusha, Mount Longido is a stunning 2,636 metres (8,651 ft) volcanic peak that offers incredible panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. For those looking for an invigorating day hike near Arusha, climbing Longido is a fantastic option. The hike up Longido takes most hikers around six hours. The trail starts off through lush forests before opening up to more rocky terrain. As you climb higher, you’ll be treated to sweeping vistas of Mount Meru, Namanga Hills, Ol Doinyo Lengai, and even Kilimanjaro, if the day is especially clear.

Pro tip: climbing this mountain is no easy feat, so pack your determination alongside your gear.

Mount Longido in Tanzania with acacia trees in front of it

Tanzanite Museum 

The Tanzanite Museum in Arusha is a unique attraction that you definitely shouldn’t miss if you’re in the area. The museum houses an impressive collection of tanzanite gemstones which will make your eyes sparkle. Learn more about the history of this rare precious stone and see some of the world’s most beautiful examples up close. And if you’re smitten with the shiny stones, simply get your own piece of tanzanite jewellery at the museum’s gift shop.

Purple blue Tanzanite

Enjoy Mountain Biking In and Near Arusha

Discover the area in and around Arusha on two wheels instead of four – and burn some calories while doing so! On a mountain bike, you can explore the region’s diverse terrains with breathtaking views and paths for different skill levels.

Some hotspots include:

  • Mount Meru, which caters to intermediate to advanced bikers with its forest tracks and wildlife sightings.
  • Arusha National Park, with its mix of natural dirt roads and forest paths, is ideal for wildlife enthusiasts of all biking levels.
  • The cultural Usa River Trails passes through coffee plantations and local villages.
  • Lake Duluti’s circular trail is perfect for beginners and bird watchers alike.

Four people biking on a trail in a forest with kids standing at the trail

Visit a Coffee Plantation in Arusha

Did you know that Tanzania is famous for producing some of the best coffee beans in the world? Well, it does, and that’s why visiting the coffee fields in Arusha is a must-do. Learning all about how coffee is grown, harvested, and processed in Tanzania, makes this experience both educational and fun. While you get blown away by the beauty of the rolling hills covered in neat rows of coffee plants, your knowledgeable guide will tell you everything he knows about coffee farming. Of course, you’ll end this day with some freshly brewed coffee – enjoy!

A green coffee plantation

Check Out Meserani Snake Park and Maasai Museum 

The Meserani Snake Park is a fun family activity with educational shows for the kids… and grown-ups. It’s home to various species of snakes, like puff adders, green and black mambas, and the Egyptian cobra, as well as crocodiles, lizards, and, oddly enough, birds.

The cultural Boma onsite features the Maasai Museum, which displays traditional artefacts. Here you can learn about the semi-nomadic Maasai tribe’s customs and culture. Traditional weapons, beads, gourds, and everyday objects give you an inside look at the lifestyle of these fascinating indigenous people. This is a great cultural experience, you don’t want to miss.

Monitor Lizard sitting on a rock in Meserani Snake Park Arusha

Take a City Tour

Arusha is home to many fascinating sights and historical landmarks that are worth exploring on a guided city tour. Taking a half-day or full-day city tour is a great way to see the best the city has to offer in a short amount of time. And the best thing: you don’t have to worry about navigating or planning the best route. Just soak up the atmosphere, stories, and scenery. Done.

Many people in a market in Arusha with fruit and vegetables

Buy a Souvenir At Arusha Maasai Market

The Arusha Maasai Market is a famous spot to buy a souvenir for your loved ones – or yourself. Located near the clock tower in central Arusha, this market is open seven days a week and brings together artisans and craftspeople selling traditional Maasai pieces. At the market, bargaining is both welcomed and expected. Don’t be shy to negotiate prices on items that catch your eye. With good-natured haggling and a smile, you’re likely to get the best deals.

Some highlights of shopping at the Maasai Market include:

  • The vibrant Maasai beaded jewellery, often incorporating colours and symbols with cultural significance.
  • Wooden carvings depicting wild animals and Maasai warriors made from local woods like ebony.
  • Hand-dyed, loosely woven shukas and other textiles in vivid colours.

Several Maasai sculptures and masks and jewellery on a wooden shelf

Getting Around Arusha

Getting around this vibrant city and its surroundings is half the fun. With stunning scenery abound, travelling between each adventure will be a sightseeing experience in itself.

By Bus or Public Transport

Get a glimpse into local life and culture as you hop aboard one of Arusha’s colourful (and mostly crowded) buses or shared minivans, called dala dalas. While routes and schedules can be confusing for newbies, fares are extremely cheap, and you’ll get to chat with friendly locals – how’s that for authentic?

Self Drive

Nothing beats the freedom of having your own set of 4×4 wheels in Arusha. Splurge on a rental car or 4WD vehicle to journey on your own schedule. Driving yourself allows you to venture to more remote areas and discover hidden gems at your own pace. Just be ready for bumpy, unpaved roads and be sure to know some basic car repair skills, e. g. changing a tyre.

Join an Organized Tour

From budget day trips to luxury bespoke safaris, Arusha offers a wealth of tour options. Join a small group trip to maximize convenience and safety with the insight of experienced guides. Let the experts handle the details while you soak up the magic.

What have we learned today? Exactly: one should not just breeze through Arusha, but explore it – from the bustling markets to the green landscapes. Get in touch with us today and together we plan your trip to Arusha. Whether you’re looking for a luxury safari or a budget-friendly adventure, we can help you find the perfect tour.

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