advertisement

Currency Exchange -- There are dozens of bureaux de change in Arusha -- take a walk along Joel Maeda Street to compare rates. Exchange rates are bettered by banks, but commission charges are high, and most do not offer exchange services to foreigners. Standard Chartered Bank on Goliondoi Road does, as does the NBC, at the corner of Soikone Road and School Street -- the latter is said to offer the best traveler's check rates. I have found that the rates offered by the Imperial Hotel (in the center of town) are difficult to beat; it is also open daily, whereas banks and foreign exchange bureaus usually operate Monday through Friday 8:30am to 4pm, and Saturday 8am to 1pm. The most popular ATM for visitors is at Barclays, on Serengeti Road.

Emergency -- Police tel. 112. Crimestopper tel. 111. For medical emergencies, contact Flying Doctors (in Nairobi; tel. 020/31-5454 or 0733/62-8422). Directory enquiries tel. 991.

Hospital -- Tanzania is not a country you want to seek serious medical or dental advice in; make sure you're in good health before departure. If you urgently need help in Arusha, contact Trinity Medical Diagnostic Clinic, Engira Road (tel. 027/254-4392). Alternatively, arrange for an emergency transfer to Nairobi, where services are better.

Internet Access -- Most lodgings offer Internet access, but if you want to save money, head for The Pattiserie, on Sokoine Road.

Pharmacy -- Moona's Pharmacy Ltd., Sokoine Road (tel. 0744/33-4567 or after hours 074/430-9052; moonas_pharmacy@cybernet.co.tz).

Police -- Dial tel. 112 or the Arusha police station (tel. 027/250-3541).

Post Office -- The main post office is on Boma Road, near the central Clock Tower; there is an Internet cafe on the first floor. To mail cards or letters, ask staff at your lodging reception. Do not send items of value through the post. For courier services, head to DHL, Sokoine Road, next to NBC Bank (tel. 027/250-6749).

Not-So-Pearly Whites -- While potable, the waters that tumble from Mount Meru are extremely high in fluoride. With most of the villages surrounding the mountain reliant on its streams and springs, years of exposure has resulted in the majority of the Arusha population suffering from porous bones, prone to breaking, and brown, stained teeth. A few local NGOs are working hard on finding easily administered solutions to neutralize the high fluoride content for villagers; until such time, a new generation of smiles is in the process of being blighted.

The Tsetse Fly: Guardian of the Wilderness -- Aside from mosquitoes (and these only in certain locations or times of the year), the biggest pest you will encounter on safari is the tsetse fly (pronounced tset-see), which delivers a very painful bite. They are almost everywhere on the Northern Circuit, particularly in woodland areas; stop to have a picnic in the shade, and within minutes you will have to flee to open savannah. Thankfully, the tsetse is easy to identify. Similar in shape but slightly larger than your common housefly, the wings fold one on top of the other over the abdomen when resting, and you'll notice the long proboscis that sticks out from a distinct bulb at the bottom of the head. Unlike mosquitoes (and rather like horseflies), they have relatively large "scalpels" to make their incision, so you feel the bite before it actually happens and can flick or kill the offending insect before it can render any further damage. Travel with insect repellent and (I kid you not) a fly swatter. Do not wear dark clothes (they're attracted to dark colors), try to keep the vehicle moving through woodland areas, and have fun swatting them. While they are an irritant, it's worth bearing in mind that it is thanks to the tsetse fly that huge tracts of wilderness have been left in their pristine state. Its ability to decimate domestic animals as well as cause sleeping sickness in humans ensured that areas such as the Serengeti and Tarangire were spared the type of European encroachment that happened around other riverine areas (aside from the Maasai, who seem immune to them).

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.