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How to get the most from your budget in Arusha


Visiting Arusha should be top of every tourist’s Tanzanian trip. As well as being the gateway to the Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater and Mt Kilimanjaro, there are also plenty of hotspots close to the town to explore. From relaxing by the peaceful Lake Duluti to taking a spectacular hike to the Materuni waterfall, there are plenty of amazing activities to keep you busy.

 

What can be less amazing about visiting Arusha is paying Mzungu (the Swahili word for foreigner) prices for travel, souvenirs, food and tours. If you aren’t used to haggling, Arusha is the perfect place to practice, as bartering is pretty much expected from locals. The first price you’re given for something will likely be very high and if you don’t negotiate, you can end up paying up to five times more than you should.

 

After spending ten days exploring Arusha (and with help from our lovely hosts Martha and Daniel), we got a good idea of what we should be spending day-to-day. Although we’re by no means experts, we did come away with some bargains from the Masai Market and some tips which we hope will help any future Arusha visitors!

 

Travel

 

Taxis - If you fly into Arusha airport you shouldn’t pay any more than 50,000 TSH (around $20) for a taxi to get to Shangarai and no more than 30,000 TSH (around $12) to get to Arusha. When we hopped off the plane, we were greeted with a quote of $60 to get to Shangarai which we managed to negotiate down to $20. This was after ten minutes of back and forth with a taxi driver so don’t be discouraged if you’re haggling for a while!

 

If you fly into Kilimanjaro airport, things get a bit more expensive as only certain taxis are allowed to pick people up and they charge accordingly for this exclusivity. You can expect to pay around $100 for a transfer to Arusha and this can’t really be negotiated.

 

Daladalas (local taxis) – If you don’t mind getting up close and personal with your fellow passengers, the packed daladala local taxis are the best and cheapest way to travel. Prices are static but they’re the same for everyone and very cheap, for example, a 20-minute journey is 700 TSH (around $0.28).

 

Tuk Tuks / motorbikes – less crowded than daladalas and more fun than a private taxi, if you are travelling light, hop on the back of one of the many motorbike taxis around the town. A 30-minute ride should only set you back around 15,000 (around $12).

 

Food

 

Obviously, you can’t haggle at a restaurant unless you want to be asked to leave. However, it’s worth taking the time to find places that serve good local food, rather than paying over the odds at a tourist trap.

If you need WIFI while you eat, you’ll have to suck up the higher prices at one of the town’s cafes. We can highly recommend visiting Fifis for the friendly staff (who didn’t seem to mind us spending hours on our laptops there), fast WIFI and delicious lunches. As a price guide, we paid 44,000 TSH (around $17) for two iced coffees, two glasses of water, six huge samosas and two generous portions of maharage (Tanzanian bean stew) and chapati.

 

However, there are plenty of cheaper, local restaurants in Arusha if you want to save some pennies. We went to The Green Hut where a huge portion of ugali, maharage, spicy veggies and salad costs 7,000 TSH (around $2.80). Other local places to try are Khan’s Barbeque, Enong’oto Fast Food and Five Chutneys.

 

Souvenirs

 

For mementos of your trip, head to the Masai Market in the centre of Arusha. Here you can buy anything from intricate hand-crafted jewellery to huge pieces of African art painted by local artists. If you’re looking to buy several gifts, try to get them from the same store as you’ll often get a better deal than if you spread your shopping around the market.

 

The price you’re given depends on what you’re buying but we found a good rule of thumb for haggling is to ask for at least half of the first price you’re given. The shop owner won’t agree to a price that‘s too low so you’ll never be paying an amount which means the seller doesn’t make a profit.

 

Tours

 

Are you planning on hiking Mt Kilimanjaro or after a once-in-a-lifetime safari across the Serengeti? However you decide to spend your time in Arusha, we can definitely recommend getting in touch with Martha and Daniel to help plan your trip. They’ve organised tours in Arusha and nearby Moshi (where Mt Kilimanjaro climbs start) for years so they are experts in the local tourism industry. They can arrange a trip that fits your budget and includes everything you want to experience!

 

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