Arusha is a diverse region with a lively capital city known for its nomadic tribes, close proximity to wildlife and easy access to Mount Kilimanjaro. While travelers could easily spend weeks exploring the expansive savannahs, city streets and far flung hillsides, three days offers just enough time to sample some of what makes this place one of Tanzania’s most popular destinations.
Day 1: Explore the City
Arusha is a vibrant, diverse and energetic community known for its Maasai people and close proximity to Arusha-Nairobi Road—a thoroughfare for the great migration. Spend the day wandering the streets of the Central Business Area and exploring the halls of the National Natural History Museum before heading east to Tengeru, a bustling market town that’s thick with trade. Comb through the stalls of local sellers and bear witness as locals purchase everything from goods for the day’s meal to brightly colored traditional fabrics, and even electronics. Round out the evening at one of the city’s popular night clubs, like Masai Camp, Greek Club or Via Via, where hip-hop anthems reign supreme.
Day 2: Visit the Maasai
Despite its urban status, Arusha is home to a large population of Maasai—one of Tanzania’s oldest semi-nomadic tribes. Spend a day visiting a traditional boma, where these pastoral people practice their traditional way of life. Wander through the mud huts and explore the fields where young boys keep watch over goats, donkeys, cows and sheep. Share a pot of steaming hot food with the women of this tribe, whose brightly colored red robes are easy to spot amid the backdrop of the Tanzanian savannahs. Learn more about their healers, educational system and patriarchal practices, then purchase some of the tribe’s distinctive handmade jewelry as a reminder of this once in a lifetime experience.
Day 3: Get in Touch with the Wild Side
Take the two-hour overland journey from Arusha to the Ngorongogo Crater, where a sunken plain spans some 260 square kilometers and is home to more than 25,000 animals. Venture into the wild and get up close to black rhinos, thousands of wildebeests, zebra and gazelles, and see what’s been named the densest population of lions in the world. Travelers who visit the crater between December and June will likely catch part of the legendary great migration, where more than a million wildebeests, zebra and other game make the trip to Maasai Mara in search of water and fertile grazing.