About Arusha, TZ

About Arusha, TZ

Located at the base of the volcanic Mt. Meru, Arusha is a popular starting point for many safaris and cultural tours due its close proximity to several national parks. Tourism is one of Arusha’s major industries, along with the service sector thanks to the many local businesses found throughout the city. Arusha’s population is approximately 415,000, which boasts a diverse culture in which over 120 languages are spoken. Arusha is a beautiful, bustling city filled with many friendly Tanzanians of many mixed backgrounds.

Weather:

Thanks to Arusha’s elevation (4,600 feet) cool, dry air is common year round. The city has distinct wet and dry seasons, and is considered to have a temperate highland tropical climate. The wet season occurs in two phases, one characterized by

long prevailing rains from March through May, and a second characterized by shorter, less reliable rains during November and December. Temperatures during the wet season range from a low of 50⁰F to a high of 80⁰F. The dry season is characterized by cooler weather, with temperatures ranging from 45⁰F-70⁰F.

Food and Dining:

There are a variety of dining choices throughout Arusha. A traditional Swahili dish consists of a stiff maize porridge, known as ugali, paired with protein (usually beef as chicken is considered a delicacy) and salad or beans. Rice can often times be substituted for ugali in many restaurants. Popular Swahili meals among past volunteers have included chipsi kuku (French fries and rotisserie chicken), or chips mayai (an omelet containing French fries).  These meals are typically inexpensive, filling, and can be found at many local dining facilities.

Westernized restaurants can also be found throughout Arusha. They offer a mix of cuisines from all over the world, including Indian and Chinese. These meals usually cost more, but the cafes they are served in offer free wifi and a relaxed and comfortable atmosphere that is popular among many tourists visiting Arusha.

Transportation:

Tanzania’s public transportation

system consists of dala dalas. These are inexpensive minibuses that are usually packed full of locals traveling throughout the city. They run on the same route throughout town, and are a cheap option for travelling to the city center to visit souvenir shops, restaurants, the market, or even local bookshops. They usually get packed full as operators encourage people to stand in the doorway of the cars, but they can transport many people at a time. Taxis are also available for use, but can oftentimes be expensive depending on where you are travelling to and how many people are being transported. Transportation to and from placements or volunteer opportunities is provided by CGD.

Accommodations:

CGD offers volunteers housing at Tulivu house, located just outside the city in the Moshono district, for the duration of their stay. The house is located in a small village with friendly locals and a pub that offers traditional Swahili dishes just down the street. The house is gated and cared for by a housekeeper who also cooks delicious meals twice a day for volunteers. Wifi, clean water, and a computer are all provided.

Weekend Excursions:

Because Arusha is a popular tourist destination for many different activities, past volunteers have taken many weekend trips such as:  

  • Safaris
    • Ngorongoro, Serengeti, Lake Manyara, and Tarangire national parks can all be visited from Arusha
  • Weekend Trips to Zanzibar
    • Stone Town offers lots of history about the slave trade as well as inexpensive accommodations
    • Paje is a beautiful beach on the other side of the island and is a popular spot for kiteboarders
  • Cultural Tours
    • Coffee, Maasai village, waterfall, banana plantation tours and more can all be found throughout Arusha andthe surrounding areas
    • Transportation to and from the tour sites, as well as lunch, are usually provided with these tours
  • Trips to Moshi
    • Moshi is a short bus ride from Arusha and is another bustling Tanzanian town offering access to many waterfalls and hiking trails
  • Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro
    • The shortest climbs can be done in five to seven days, so they cannot be completed during the program, but are a good option for the beginning or end of your trip

      Photos featured below are courtesy of CGD students