By Plane -- The closest airport is Kilimanjaro International Airport (referred to as KIA locally, but abbreviated JRO when doing Internet research), 60km (35 miles) east of Arusha center.
Unless you are traveling the Southern Circuit (in which case, your international arrival point would be Dar es Salaam), a more efficient way to get to Arusha may be via Nairobi airport (NBO) in Kenya, with a connecting flight to KIA.
Kenya Airways, in partnership with Precision Air (www.precisionairtz.com), operates four to five flights daily from Nairobi to KIA; it is designed as a connector flight, so you should be able to remain in transit and avoid paying for a Kenya visa (for your own peace of mind, double-check this with the airline or your agent before departure; I have heard reports of some visitors being charged by unscrupulous customs officials and paying up simply because they weren't 100% sure). Another option is to utilize AirKenya's daily flight (www.airkenya.com), but this leaves from Nairobi's Wilson general aviation airport. In this case, you will have to go through immigration and purchase a one-way transit visa for $20, as well as a $20 taxi ride to Wilson. Most domestic flights (usually light aircraft arriving from airstrips on the Northern Circuit, as well as Zanzibar, Dar es Salaam, and the Southern Circuit) arrive at Arusha Airport, 10km (6 1/4 miles) west of Arusha center (20 min.). Recommended domestic airlines are Precision Air (tel. 027/250-2541), Regional Air Services (tel. 027/250-2541), and Northern Air (tel. 027/250 8059).
Note that the yellow fever vaccination ($50) and visas ($50 most nationalities; $100 U.S. and Irish citizens) are available at KIA.
By Bus -- Arusha is well connected by bus with every major city, including Nairobi and Dar es Salaam. The latter is a grueling 10-hour trip, with a single 20-minute stop more or less halfway. I'd recommend you fly from Dar, but if you're not squeamish and wish to experience a bit of local life (not to mention save around $170 per person), the best bus operators are Scandinavia (www.scandinaviagroup.com for regional office numbers and schedules; Arusha office tel. 027/250-0153) and Royal Coach (tel. 022/212-4073 or 0754/88-5778); the latter runs a dedicated Dar-Arusha route.
It's a far easier transfer by road from Nairobi to Arusha -- taking the additional visa costs into account (flying allows you to avoid paying for both Kenya and Tanzania visas, but it will cost you more), you will still save about $100. Several reputable companies operate shuttle bus services daily; the journey takes 4 to 5 hours and costs around $20. Contact Impala Shuttles (tel. 0800/221-9000; www.impalashuttle.com), Riverside (www.riverside-shuttle.com), or Davanu. In Arusha, contact MD Emmanuel (tel. 0715/40-0318; email@example.com); in Nairobi (here Davanu operates as Destination Shuttle), contact Samuel (tel. 0722/72-9100) or Nathan at Nairobi International Airport (tel. 0722/31-0234). Note that you will have to purchase a Kenyan visa, as well as a Tanzanian visa at Namanga, the border crossing ($50-$100, depending on nationality). It's best to book your shuttle well in advance.
The local Tanzania Tourist Board office is at 47 E. Boma Rd. (tel. 027/250-3842 or 027/250-3843; firstname.lastname@example.org; Mon-Fri 8:30am-4pm, Sat 8:30am-1pm). You can obtain free maps here, as well as the latest information on the various cultural programs on offer. If you haven't already booked a ground operator (someone to do road and local flight transfers), you can also check the credentials of your prospective safari or trekking company here -- complaints are registered and repeat offenders blacklisted. Also on the Boma Road is the Ngorongoro Conservation Authority office; Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA) headquarters are on Dodoma Road diagonally opposite the Cultural Heritage Centre (tel. 027/250-1930 or 027/250-1934; www.tanzaniaparks.com).
When to Go
Being equatorial, the region has no summer and winter season, per se, and seasons are defined instead by rainfall. March and April are wet and constitute the only real low season. The second "short rains" fall during November and December, but prices are seldom reduced during this time.
It is worth prearranging your airport transfer with your lodgings. Arusha center has plenty of taxis; some of them cruise the streets, mostly concentrated outside The Arusha Hotel, at the top of Boma and India roads, along Sokoine Road, along the eastern stretch of Makongoro Road, and along Joel Maeda Street. Fares are not expensive (Tsh1,000-Tsh2,500) and can, if you prefer, be paid in dollars (at an exchange rate of Tsh1,000 to $1).
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.