advertisement

Most visitors to Arusha are effectively in transit and, as such, do not have the time or inclination to go sightseeing. For those who do, the best attraction by far is a day or morning spent exploring Arusha National Park -- though it's worth noting here that the park, pretty as it is, pales once you have been to Tarangire National Park, which lies about 2 hours from Arusha. Another pleasant excursion is to the Lake Duluti Forest Reserve (overlooked by Serena Mountain Village); a pleasant hour-plus amble along its shores or canoe trip should reveal local fishermen at work or, with luck, the majestic fish eagle, responsible for Africa's most haunting cry. Farther afield are a number of cultural tourism programs initiated by the Netherlands Development Organization. To learn more about the Wa-Arusha agricultural and cultural traditions, you can visit the villages of Ng'iresi, Ilkiding'a, and Mulala. At Longido and Monduli, you can learn more about the Maasai culture, including a visit to a rural Maasai boma. All profits are plowed back directly into the communities. If you have any anthropological or sociological interests, you will likely find these informative and a great opportunity for local communities to share in the tourism bonanza. Some visitors, however, will find the experience slightly artificial. For up-to-date information on all the programs that have itineraries of various durations and costs, visit the Tanzania Tourist Board on Boma Road.

Arusha itself has two museums -- the National History Museum (Boma Rd.; daily 9am-5pm; $3), of interest primarily for its location in the German Boma (the original military fort, built in 1901, making it the oldest colonial building in Arusha), and the Arusha Declaration Museum (off Makongoro Rd.; daily 8:30am-5:30pm; $5). The latter provides some insights into Tanzania's history, with ethnological exhibits that predate the colonial era, as well as interesting artifacts from the 20th century, but a stop here is perhaps warranted only if you are interested in purchasing local art. The building houses the Arusha Cultural Art Association, with artists-in-residence offering their works for sale.

When Kilimanjaro Comes Out to Play -- "Look, from here you will have a one of the best photographs of Kilimanjaro." Our driver, who has just pulled up on the verge, points to the dense cloud cover towering above the horizon. "Shall we wait a bit? See if the mountain comes out?" he asks. "No," I answer curtly, thinking of my (very long) list of things to do. But a few hours later, driving through Arusha National Park, he points to the horizon again, and my heart does a jolt. Rising above the cloud cover, finally, is the snow-capped dome of Kilimanjaro. I did not expect to be so affected by my first sighting of the world's tallest free-standing mountain, but the contrast between driving through a tropical forest, monkeys crashing through the undergrowth, and seeing those white powdered peaks floating above the clouds is nothing if not surreal, and one of those moments you treasure for life.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.