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Things to do in Arusha, after Safari! (Budget friendly)

While a 4-day Safari around Tarangire, Serengeti and NgoroGoro was one of the most incredible experiences of my life, and worth every penny, exploring Arusha like a local for the last few weeks has made me fall in love with this country and its people. I’ve put together this little guide of things to do in Arusha that ignited this love, outside of the usual Safaris and Kilimanjaro climbs. Added bonus, everything is super budget friendly! Hope you enjoy!


Live with a local


We found Martha + Daniel on Workaway.com, they were opening their humble home to volunteers in exchange for some help with their business. It was incredible - we learnt so much about local culture and their way of life and felt part of their family, and Marthas delicious cooking meant we got to sample the finest Tanzanian home-cooking, 3 meals a day! Not only were our hosts hugely welcoming, but the whole community was a delight – everyone greeted us with MAMBO (Hi)! By the end of a short walk around the banana plantation village, my cheeks hurt from smiling. If you can’t join Martha and Daniel, I’d recommend searching for a homestay or finding a local hostel, slightly out of the city – Karibu Eco Hostel was a hoot and a lovely place to stay! Getting to know the locals is the best way to get to know a place, little recommendations and pieces of advice are gold, and make the whole experience so much richer.


Travel by Dalla Dalla (Bus)


The buses here are crazy, but a must-do experience! They’re a tight squeeze, and as a westerner (mzungu) they can seem a little intimidating. How the hell do you know where it's going ay? If you’re on a main road and know where you’d like to end up, flag down a Dalladalla and tell the guy working where you’d like to go, he’ll either give you a yes or no. If it’s a yes, travel is cheap – a 20 minute journey into the city is 600 TZS (£0.20p) in 2023. Just don’t be shocked if you share your ride with a bagful of squawking chickens or if you’re almost sitting on the lap of the passenger next to you! If its no, try another or flag down a TukTuk – they’re a little more expensive – 10,000 TZS (£3) for a 30-minute ride, but a reliable and fun way to see the city. The city has so many incredible sights, with a backdrop of Mount Meru, it’s an exciting place just to people watch and take in the sights!


Shop at the local Market


The markets here are magical explosions of colours, texture, noise, movement and smells. If you’re after veggies, head for Kilombero Market or if you’re after souvenirs, the Maasai market in the centre of the city is the perfect place to pick up local crafts such as jewellery, fabrics (Kanga), carvings, woven baskets and more. Be prepared to haggle – theres no set price so decide what you’re willing to pay before you look too interested, often buying more than one item gets you a good deal.

Eat Local Foods


The National food for Tanzania is Ugali; a thick bread/mash potato-like cornflour side dish accompanied by stewed meats, veggies - cassava is a new fave, or fish (often tilapia). It’s eaten without cutlery, which makes it SO much easier to pick out the pesky fish bones, but does take a little practice! Every restaurant/home has a dedicated hand-washing sink, and its custom to wash hand before eating regardless of whether you’re using cutlery or not. Menus are simple and often include meats, fish, beans and veggies and various sides like ugali, rice, chapati or chips. The flavours are often lightly spiced, with onions, carrots and tomato being prominent, though for the spice lovers the local hot sauce is divine! Other specialities to look out for is Chips Miyay (chip omlette). My partner and I are pescatarians, and had no trouble finding veggie options everywhere we went – if its not on the menu, just ask! Recommended local eateries: The Green Hut, Taj, Five Chutneys.


Visit the cultural Heritage Centre/Gallery


The collection of African art on display at the Cultural Heritage centre is mind-blowing! There is something for everyone and shows the richness and skill of artisans and artists from across Africa. Included in the exhibit are hundreds of incredible masks, intricate bead work, wood carvings and paintings, both traditional and more contemporary in style. The tingatinga paintings were a highlight for me! Entrance is free, and nearly all of the artwork and artefacts on display are for sale - though the adjacent souvenir shop was more within my budget.


Visit Sanaa Arusha


If crafts are you thing (they are mine) then head to Sanna Arusha to watch local artisans glassblowing, weaving, sewing and beading. The place is a hive of activity and everyone working is excited to share their craft with you. The organisation hires artisans with varying disabilities, giving them access to work that would otherwise be hard to find. You can pick up all kinds of beautiful objects, from tableware to clothing, all hand made in house. Its free to visit, and prices are fair, with profits going back into supporting the local community.


Drink Tanzanian Coffee


While the locals aren’t generally coffee fanatics, tea is much more popular, Tanzania has the perfect climate and soil to produce the most delicious coffee. Head to Karibu Eco Hostel for a cup of their finest nectar, its grown and roasted in house. They also offer a full coffee tour, where you can partake in every step of the process from plant harvest to cup. They’re lovely local guys, and while the place is a little hard to get to, it's worth the extra effort, and the location is beautiful.


I hope this has been a useful little snippet of life in Arusha, staying here has been an incredible experience, if you have any questions, I’d be happy to share anything I can.


Asante


Anna, 29, England.

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