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Choosing the right tour company in Arusha. 

If there’s one thing Arusha isn’t short of, it’s tour companies. In fact, the chances are whether you’re speaking to a waiter, taxi driver or someone on the street, alongside their regular job they’ll also be involved in running safari tours and trips to the local highlights. 

And while it’s quite amusing that almost everyone you meet is a “tour guide”, it’s also a sad reminder of just how many people in Tanzania worked in the tourism industry before it was devastated by the Covid pandemic. The big five safari tour and Kilimanjaro trek industries are starting to get back on their feet, but until they reach pre-pandemic heights again, there’s going to be a lot of tour companies in Arusha competing for your business.   

With so many people offering tours (or knowing someone who does) there’s such an excessive amount of options available that when it comes to choosing a tour company for a safari in the Serengeti or Ngorongoro crater, or climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, things can get overwhelming pretty quickly.

So hopefully this blog can be handy in helping simplify the process for you a little bit. And really, if you keep in mind three key essentials, finding the tour company in Arusha that best suits your needs (and your budget) can be surprisingly simple. 

What are those essentials then? Well, from my own experience, I’d say the three key words you want to bear in mind when you compare safari or trekking tour companies are Experienced, Local and Adaptable. Let’s deal with them one by one:

Experienced: Whether you’re doing a big game safari, a trek or a coffee tour, you’ll want to have guides who have a strong record of experience in the tourism industry. So it’s well worth checking to make sure your tour company has a strong, positive track record and has been running for at least a few years.


Lots of tour companies claim to have been going for a lot longer than they have, so it can be a good idea to have a look through review websites like TripAdvisor and see how far back the reviews go. I’d be wary of going with a company that doesn’t have at least 20+ positive reviews on TripAdvisor. It’s also a good idea to check how recent the latest positive review was - if there hasn’t been a positive review in the last 6 months, proceed with caution.   

Local: No one knows an area as well as its locals, so your best bet for a great tour experience lies in hiring a tour company that uses local guides. Family-run tour businesses are especially recommended, as they’ll often have guides with local and regional knowledge that runs back for generations. You’ll also want to make sure your guide has a qualification from the Tanzania Tour Guides Association (TTGA) - if that information isn’t available on a company’s website, you can email them to ask if their guides are TTGA accredited.   

Adaptable: For a lot of us, getting to climb Mount Kilimanjaro or see lions, giraffes and elephants on a safari is the culmination of a lifelong dream. The chances are you’re going to be travelling a long way, and spending a sizeable amount of money, to achieve this dream too, so you really want it to live up to your expectations in every way. A fair few Arusha tour companies only offer tours that follow strict itineraries, so try and look for ones that offer you the chance to build a tour and travel plan that works for you and allows you to see everything you want at a pace that suits you.   

I know I suggested weighing up three parameters, but once you’ve considered the above, I’m going to be cheeky and suggest you consider a fourth element too - your gut feeling. If someone gives you a vibe that they’re a bit of a wheeler-dealer, or it feels like they’re putting you under pressure to spend more than you’re comfortable with, don’t feel bad about politely leaving their office or saying “hapana asante” and moving on. Unfortunately, there are quite a few people out there only too eager to take advantage of “mzungu” and either charge too much for a tour, or give you a substandard tour experience - so if you aren’t very confident that you can trust your tour guide, don’t hand over any money, and don’t think twice about walking away.

Well, that’s it from me, but I really hope this advice proves useful when you come to choose your tour company in Arusha, and whether you’re visiting Mount Kilimanjaro, heading off on safari or just taking in the amazing natural beauty of this part of Tanzania, I hope you have a fantastic time!

P.S. If you want to avoid paying “mzungu prices” for things like food and travel once you arrive in Arusha too, be sure to check out this handy blog. 

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