48 Hours in Arusha, Tanzania: What To Do

Arusha is a vibrant growing town filled with safari buzz and welcoming-dwellers, most of whom work directly or serve the safari-sphere indirectly. Set beneath the beautiful backdrop of Mount Meru, Arusha is attractive and has for many years been the first port of arrival for travellers thus gaining its title, ‘Safari Capital of Tanzania’. Arusha has numerous quality hotels, and restaurants, markets, a cultural heritage museum, hang out places and it is a suitable place to spend a few relaxing days discovering the local life before embarking on a safari or attempting to scale Kilimanjaro. Immersive cultural tours to the nearby communities are great to experience and a visit to the picturesque Arusha National Park situated near the town offers the perfect introduction to the enlivening world of safari, even though it doesn’t boast nearly the same abundance of wildlife, its unique ecosystem is very attractive.

At first glance, Arusha may not look like an attractive town, but when you explore it, you will be surprised by the interesting happenings. Here is a look at the top activities to enjoy in and around Arusha if you choose to spend a few days in town:

1. Visit the Cultural Heritage Centre And Wander Through The Local Markets

In the morning hours after a leisurely breakfast you can leave your hotel and head to the outskirts of Arusha and visit the Cultural Heritage Centre – the best place to get an understanding of the Tanzania's heritage and cultures. This unique centre is a combination of mask museum, curio shop, spice centre, antique store, and precious stone counter. The centre has hosted many famous people in the past, including former U.S. president Bill Clinton and his daughter, Chelsea and they have been impressed, and praised it in public. Thereafter head to one of the local markets which will offer a firsthand experience into the local life of Tanzanians, and in Arusha central area, markets are as colourful and interesting as they get. Here you can see everything from Maasai handicrafts and jewellery to fresh fruits, local fabrics among many other things. Even if you are not a shopper, visiting the markets is an unforgettable experience.

2. Visit The Arusha National Park On A Half-Day Trip
On a half day trip to Arusha National Park, travellers can enjoy a perfect introduction to the world of safari on a 2-hour game viewing drive around this beautiful park. Despite the fact that there are no Big Five animals here, the park has superb plains wildlife, birdlife and scenic landscapes.

3. Hang Out At The Old Boma – Natural History Museum
The Old Boma is a great place to chill and relax in the evening, often they have an open-air cinema and live authentic music and dancing. Old Boma has a botanical garden that features a small display of plants, in addition to the museum that features an in-depth look at wildlife, and evolution as well as human fossil discoveries in Africa. The Old Boma Museum has an interesting history too, with artifacts like documents, maps, and photos of Boma during its early establishment.

4. Enjoy a Cultural Tour To Longido
The cultural day tour to Longido is 80km north of Arusha in an area of extensive plains around Mount Longido. The experience features an insight into the traditions of Maasai culture whereas the surrounding lush environs are home to rare birds and animals. The Longido cultural tour is led by a local guide includes: a nature trail to spot birds, a climb through a natural forest to the magnificent Mount Longido, a walking safari through the Maasai plains and around the slopes of Mount Longido, including a visit to a traditional Maasai village and a tour of historical sites. On Wednesdays, visitors can extend their tour by visiting the buzzing and colourful cattle market. 

The above activities can be comfortably done within two full days with overnights in Arusha before the start of a wildlife safari to the northern circuit destinations of Lake Manyara, Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater and Tarangire as well as a relaxing beach holiday on the Zanzibar Island.