It’s a Friday evening in Arusha and the streets are teeming with life. There is action everywhere your gaze happens to land. A man laughs uproariously while talking on his mobile phone while riding on the back of a motorcycle; a Maasai warrior strolls majestically on the other side of the street wearing a bright red-coloured shuka while ahead of you is a group of wide-hipped women wearing kitenges and carrying large loads of raw bananas on their heads. You receive smiles from locals as some of them greet you in Swahili: “Mambo vipi bwana” How are things, sir?
As you stroll down the broad avenue, a smell of roast chicken wafts your way and your tummy begins to protest. Just as you consider lunch, a small young Maasai girl approaches and shakes your hand. She wants to show you her artwork, glamorous paintings of the towering Mount Kilimanjaro. You haggle about the price and settle on an agreeable one. Rolling the painting, you get back to the bustle.
Welcome to Arusha! The most famous safari destination in Africa.
Here are things to know about Arusha:
No visit to the city is complete without venturing out on a sightseeing expedition. Your tour must start at Kilombero. This is the equivalent of the city’s Grand Central Station. You can opt for a taxi, dala dala or shuttle from your hotel. Kilombero is the hub of transport in the city, and it's a sizeable gated field that most taxis collect and drop passengers. You can catch any dala dala heading outside the city. Kilombero consists of a large open market frequented by both locals and tourists.
As you wander through, you’ll enjoy smells of barbecued beef, roast corn, and pineapple slices. Head to the south side, and after a couple of blocks, you’ll encounter a roundabout with a tall clock tower. You can have lunch in one of the many cafes and restaurants that line the street.
2. Souvenir hunting at Maasai market
Visit the Maasai market for a memorable experience while souvenir hunting. Be ready to negotiate and bargain for some of the largest assortment of authentic souvenirs on earth. Each vendor runs their own stall, and they’re all excited whenever they see tourists. If you’re looking the best deal its a good option to purchase from one vendor. If you miss what you’re looking for, they have a local network where the merchandise will be promptly produced.
After you’re done with souvenir purchases, you can head to Muzungu Square where there are cafes, gift shops and other services tailored for tourists. You’ll get both cafes and internet hot spots. Available menus offer Mexican, American, Italian and Greek fares that appeal to all.
3. Visit Themi Leisure Park
The Themi falls leisure park is located on a stream whose source is Mount Meru. The park boasts tranquil beauty, with indigenous plants and colourful gardens and flowers. You can opt for hiking trails across the lush green forest spanning the river. Head towards the waterfall and enjoy the hidden treat. There is also a bar and restaurant on the property where you can refresh after the trek.
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