Arusha National Park
Arusha is a vibrant, bustling town in northern Tanzania at the base of Mt Meru. It is widely considered to be the gateway to the northern safari circuit and also Africa’s highest peak, Mt Kilimanjaro – but over the years it has become much more. Often visitors spend a night here, either at the beginning or end of a safari, but in doing so you don’t get a chance to appreciate the highlights and nuances that make Arusha.
Things to do in Arusha
- Arusha National Park – take a half or full day trip and admire the local wildlife and it’s also known for excellent birding opportunities.
- Coffee Plantations – there are many coffee plantations on the outskirts of town, tours can be arranged, some even offer accommodation.
- Mt Meru – attempting to summit Mt Meru is a somewhat more challenging and technical climb than Mt Kilimanjoro, perhaps best reserved for the more experienced climber.
- Scenery – take some time to admire your stunning surroundings, there are inspiring mountain views, including Mt Kilimanjaro.
- Food – Arusha has plenty of good restaurants for you to try out, establishments to suit all tastes and budgets.
- Canoe – spend an afternoon canoeing on the lake, a different pace to the rest of your holiday.
- Markets – if you have an hour or two to spare, immerse yourself in a bustling local market, absorbing the sights and sounds. Central Market and Kilombero Market are two good options. If it’s crafts you are after then the Mt Meru Curios and Craft Markets is a good place to find them, be prepared to bargain.
When to visit Arusha
Due to altitude (1300m), Arusha enjoys a temperate climate almost all year round. You can enjoy wildlife viewing year round in Arusha National Park and surrounding regions, but the dry season from June to October, is reckoned to be best time when animals are easier to see as they congregate at rivers and waterholes. November to February provide good safari conditions. The wettest months are March, April and May, although the rains do bring the benefit of greenery which makes the landscape photogenic.
Excellent Good Fair Poor
JUNE TO OCTOBER
- This is the dry season considered the best time for wildlife viewing
- There is less vegetation so animals are easier to spot
- Water is scarce so wildlife gathers at known sources
- There are fewer mosquitos in the drier months
- Early mornings and evenings can be chilly
NOVEMBER TO MAY
- Beautiful, lush scenery makes a great backdrop for photos
- Migratory birds make for excellent bird watching
- April and May are generally the quietest months in terms of visitors
- The rains peak from March to May
- Due to rain the driving conditions may be become difficult on some roads
Where to stay in Arusha
Arusha has a host of different types and levels of accommodation, so there is something to suit all tastes and budgets. There are lots of options in town but if you prefer, you could opt to stay on one of the coffee plantations about 30 minutes away.