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Arusha: The Gateway to the Northern Safari Circuit

Posted: 26th June 2014 15:13

Surrounded by areas of great natural beauty and interest, the city of Arusha is often considered to be the gateway to the nation’s Northern Safari Circuit, with spectacular areas as the Serengeti, the Ngorongoro Crater and the Arusha National Park found close by.  On top of that, the magnificent Mount Meru looms over the city, and the colossal Mt Kilimanjaro, the largest free-standing mountain in the world, remains easily accessible. 

Getting In & Around Arusha

Arusha is served for international flights by the nearby Kilimanjaro International Airport.  If you prefer to take internal flights whilst travelling throughout Tanzania, Arusha Airport is located in the west of the city and runs regular flights to various destinations around the country.  

Tarangire National Park

While Arusha itself is directly adjacent to the Arusha National Park, the real highlight of the region is the much larger Tarangire National Park, which is about 100km south-west of the city.  The National Park is famous for its huge population of African Elephants, Lions, Wildebeest and Zebra.  Distinctive Termite mounds dominate the open ground of the park, while iconic Baobab trees provide shelter for Olive Baboons.  The grounds are also home to huge host of birds, estimated at more than 550 different species.  The Tarangire National Park is one of the larger reservations in Tanzania, covering some 2,850 square kilometres.  Some travellers prefer to hire a guide for this area to help them make the most of the dramatic landscape and staggering natural biodiversity, but many of the creatures in the park are so abundant that you’ll struggle to miss them even if you go it alone.

Kilimanjaro National Park

Africa is home to countless National Parks, protected areas dedicated to celebrating and preserving the natural wonders of the continent.  They are often prized by travellers and locals alike as the best place to experience Africa’s iconic wildlife and see some of the world’s most unusual creatures in their natural habitat.  But some national parks are famed for different reasons, and none more so than the Kilimanjaro National Park.  Home to Mt. Kilimanjaro, the largest free-standing peak on the planet, the park is dominated by the sheer spectacle of seeing its snow-capped summit in the heart of sweltering equatorial Africa.  Many hiking trips exist on and around the dormant volcano, and while a trip to the summit is not for the inexperienced hiker, many other routes allow you to appreciate the true scale of this amazing mountain without having to worry about the frostbite.

Arusha Nightlife and Hip-Hop Scene

If you turn on a local radio station in Arusha it’d be unusual to hear a vocalist singing in English.  Whilst English-language pop music dominates the music industry around the world, Tanzania has gone its own way, developing a unique style of music fusing the sounds of African American hip-hop and traditional Tanzanian folk music, with lyrics rapped or sung in Swahili and other local languages.  It generally has a much more positive sound and message than the hardcore hip-hop it was inspired by, with the emphasis being on having a good time, spreading positivity and raising awareness of social issues.  Arusha has a vibrant music scene, and if you want to check out some Tanzanian hip-hop, there are some great venues in the city such as the Via Via Cultural Café and The Polygon Triangle.

Meserani Snake Park

While most animal enthusiasts travelling in Africa will be keen to track down the “big five” – Lions, African Elephants, Cape Buffalo, Leopards and Rhinoceroses – there’s much more to Tanzanian wildlife than big game.  Meserani Snake Park, which is located to the west of Arusha, on the way to the Serengeti and the Ngorongoro Crater, making it an ideal stop-off point for those on a trip out into the wilderness.  The park exhibits a wide variety of snakes native to areas of eastern and southern Africa, including the Black Mamba, the Bush Viper and the Spitting Cobra.  The park also features other reptiles such as Monitor Lizards, Tortoises and Crocodiles, along with a few orphaned birds that the site staff have taken in.  The park includes a campsite with full facilities and bar for those on their way to a long trip into the wild.