Whether you are a business traveler, an expatriate or a tourist in the region of Arusha… here is my top 10 weekend getaways from the “tourist capital” of Tanzania, for every taste and budget…
1. A “real maasai experience”
To get to know and experience the maasai culture within a short time and without knowing anybody there to introduce you…
Go to Oldonyo Sambu, about 30 minutes drive from Arusha, direction Nairobi. This typical maasai market – and not touristic at all – will help you to easily and quickly immerse into another world.
You will walk among many “stands”: maasai fabric, jewelleries and shoes, vegetables, cattles… On the left side, just before reaching the cattle market, you will find a little street with local restaurants where maasai men go for lunch. You can stop by, whether you are a man, woman or kid! Great to taste the Tanzanian’s ‘gastronomy’ (ougali, chapati, spinach, beans, rice…) in a 100% local place.
Then, hit the tarmac road towards Nairobi and turn right (1st rough road after the market) to go to “maasai lodge” in Ngare Nanyuki.
A magical place in the middle of the maasai steppe where a devoted and spontaneous team will welcome you and will make you discover the maasai culture through diverse activities (included in the price): walk in the maasai steppe, traditional dances and songs etc.). You will sleep in bomas (typical traditional maasai houses) customized and beautifully decorated, with a stunning view on the Kilimanjaro on clear days!
- $Restaurant in Oldonyo sambu market: very cheap. Note: avoid playing paparazzi!;)
- $$Maasai Lodge: Quite high budget ($95 per person resident full board and $340 per double room for non resident) but it really worth it. (Lodge recommended by 10 Huddle members).
2. A “mountain bike ride” around Mt Meru volcano
For outdoor lovers. Experience a great local and off the beaten track adventure during 2 days / 1 night around Mount Meru, this sleepy volcano dominating Arusha. You will pass by villages, coffee producers, tomatoes crops…
You have many options where you can spend the night such as Mkuru Training camp (http://www.mkurutrainingcamp.org/), or in Kingori: CKC guest house, or even in Leguruki: Momela Cultural Tourism.
Route: here following is our route, but this can be adapted according to the time and effort you are ready to spend!:
- Day 1 (85 Km): Arusha – Usa River via Old Moshi Road (20.9 Km) ; Usa River- Kikatiti via Highway (10.4 Km); Kikatiti – Kingori (15.7 Km); Kingori – Leguruki (7 Km); Leguruki – Ngare Nanyuki (14.6 Km); Ngare Nanyuki – Mkuru camp (16.5 Km)
- Day 2 (51 Km): Mkuru Camp – Tarmac junction (Road to Nairobi: 12.6 Km); Junction – Oldonyo Sambu (7 Km); Oldony Sambu – Arusha (31.6 Km).
- $Night in Mkuru: $15 the night in a dormitory
- $Bike rental with ABC (Arusha Bicycle Center): 20,000 TZH per day and per bicycle (i.e. €10) with security deposit of 100,000 THS (i.e. €50). ABC (aka Nature Discovery is a Huddle member)
Another alternative is a 2-hour-tour from River Trees (nice lodge and restaurant) in Usa River, about 25 minutes drive from Arusha. The price for a 2-hour-tour in the surrounding villages is $30 per person.
See also our article “2 Day bike ride around Mt Meru – Tanzania”
3. A “mini ascent”
You will normally need 3 to 4 days to climb Mount Meru, but if you have 2 days only… an option is to go up to the 1st hut (Miriakamba – 2,500 m) where you can sleep. You will get the chance to experience a great 3 hour to 5-hour-adventure on the volcano slopes.
From Momella gate (1,500m) to Miriakamba hut (2,500m) there are two routes: the Southern route and the Northern route.
Southern route: a 5-hour-walk from Momella gate to Miriakamba hut. You will pass through the Montane forest where different features such as the fig tree arch, the Maio waterfalls, and different kind of vegetation such as the wild mangoes, African olives, strangler figs and wild elders can be seen.
Nothern route: a 3 to 4-hour-walk from Momella gate to the Miriakamba accommodation centre. This is the shorter and steeper route. Along this route the views of Mt. Kilimanjaro and the Momella lakes are spectacular. Common mammals along this route are cape buffaloes, Maasai giraffes, warthogs, bushbucks, etc.
- $$Arusha national park entry fees: $45 per adult non East African resident (or $25 per adult East African resident.) The night in the dormitory is included in the park fees. Add $15 ranger fees per group. Ranger who you will find at the gate.
- Possibility of reaching Momella gate by taxi or piki piki (motorbike taxi). A $70 taxi budget from Arusha to the 2nd gate of Arusha national park i.e. Momella gate.
4. “Meeting bush-men”
Leave Arusha early morning to Karatu to reach Bashay lodge (from the French safari company MKSC) beginning of the afternoon to enjoy the amazing pool…
Ideal pied-à-terre too to leave early morning on Sunday (6.30 – 7 am) to visit the Hadzabe tribe near Lake Eyasi. MKSC works with Omari, an independent guide, who organizes the visit. Please book in advance as Bashay lodge cannot receive money on site. You will go and spend the morning with this endangered tribe (only 1,200 left) living as hunter-gatherers… A bit touristic indeed but a smart way to get to know and understand this culture through activities such as hunting, archery, making fire etc. You will also have the chance to meet then the Datoga tribe, who are farmers and craftsmen living in peace nearby the Hadzabe tribe.
- $$Accommodation: About $100 (depending on the season) per person resident full board in Bashay. Book in advance (and not directly at the lodge) the visit with the Hadzabe tribe.
- $$For the car, you can ask the services of the safari agency MKSC with a budget of about $225 per day for the car with driver.
- $$Otherwise possibility of renting a car at « Global Wide » for about $85 per day with driver based on 110km per day.
5. Go and play “Tarzan & Jane”
From Arusha, take the road towards Moshi to reach “Maji Moto”. This hot spring, as its name indicates in Kiswahili, is the best place to swimm and play “Tarzan” with the liana surrounding you (!) in a crystalline water from the depths of Mt Kilimanjaro.
You can either spend the day or pitch the tent if you want to stay longer.
- $Fees: 5,000 Tsh (€2) per adult. (Recommended by 10 Huddle members)
6. An “Arabica” experience
From Arusha, drive towards Moshi and stop at Tengeru to visit a coffee plantation with “Kahawa” from the association “Wild tracks”. Spend a day tour with a guide to get to know everything about Arabica coffee produced at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro. You will also get an overview of vegetables and fruits that are grown here.
Then, go to River Trees end of afternoon where you will probably get the chance to admire the sun set on the kilimandjaro (on a clear day)… or relax in the garden or at the pool. Great place “in the countryside” on the river to enjoy a very good (and good deal too) lunch or dinner in an exceptional setting!
- $Coffee plantation tour with “Kahawa”, a full day visit with a guide, lunch (very generous local lunch), and transfer from/to your hotel for $35 per person. Half day possible if you ask.
- $$Night at River Trees: $240 double room per night with breakfast. The price may vary depending on the season or if you are residents in Tanzania; contact them to know the resident price when appropriate. Restaurant: very nice with correct prices. Great staff. (the managers are Huddle members).
7. “Admire zebras and wildebeest from your pool”
Take the parks route and drive during 110km to spend the weekend on the shore of Lake Manyara in Maramboi tented camp (outside of Lake Manyara national park). From the swimming-pool you will be able to admire wildebeest and zebras two steps away from you!
On Sunday morning, you can go for a 2-hour-walk with a maasai and guide from the lodge, on the shore of Lake Manyara surrounded by zebras, wildebeests, antelopes, flamingos etc.
- $$$Maramboi tented camp: a quite high budget, about $200 per double room full board at low-season (April-May), for residents.
- The most: The lodge is located outside of Lake Manyara National Park so there is no entry fees to pay with still enjoying the same animals.
- $$Car rental with « Global Wide » for about $85 per day with driver based on 110 km per day.
8. a “Safari experience”
Arusha national park: ideal for a day-trip. Nice park for its forest atmosphere where you can see lots of animals such as buffaloes, antelopes, baboons, giraffes, etc. Besides a 4×4 safari, you can choose either a horse or canoe safari.
To book a horse safari, contact “Makoa-Farm”; tel. 255-754-312896/7; email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The canoe safari inside Arusha national park is managed by a company based in Arusha: Green Footprints Adventure Limited. Tel : +255 782 297 503 OU +255 684 153 882
Tarangire national park is a chance to experience savanna during a weekend only (even possible on a day-trip if you leave Arusha early morning as it is only 1h30 drive away). This park is the home of many African elephants per square kilometer than anywhere else in the world. Being in this park, you will be able to appreciate one of the worlds last enclaves of wildelife, and observe lots of animals such as zebras, lions, antelopes, ostriches, giraffes, leopards… I will recommend you then to spend the night at Maweninga tented camp, from the French safari agency MKSC as I really like this peaceful place in the middle of the bush.
- $$Arusha and Tarangire national park fees are $45 per adult above 16 years old ($15 for 5-16 years old) non East African resident per 24 hours and $22,5 per adult above 16 years old ($7,5 for 5-16 years old) East African resident per 24 hours.
- $$Night in Maweninga: about $150 per person full board (price varies depending on the season), for residents.
- $$Car with driver with MKSC safari agency for about $225 per day.
9. “Caldeira experience”
At about 2-hour-drive from Arusha, you will spend the weekend at Lake Chala. This lake is in a caldeira located at the Tanzanian-Kenyan border. Possibility to pitch one’s tent and to cook one’s food or diner/lunch are available on site too. There are also accomodations available in a quite luxurious tented camp, but quite expensive though.
- $$About $10 per personne per day and $4 for the car per day. Unfortunately Lake Chala is now a WMA (World Life Management Area) with entry fees that weren’t there before…
- $Campsite fees: $5 per person (2 years ago). Thanks in advance to the person who will update this information!;)
10. “Kilimanjaro experience”
You will spend the weekend near Machame (road towards Moshi) at the foot Mt Kilimanjaro, in Kaliwa lodge. A good way to experience the Kilimanjaro ascent atmosphere as Machame is one of the starting point of one of the most popular routes on Mount Kilimanjaro. From the terrace lodge, you will enjoy an aperitif at the sundowner with a stunning view on the roof of Africa (on clear days). A very peaceful place, at starting point of many walks within a forest and mountain atmosphere… you’ll make nice encounters with villagers too…
- $$Night at Kaliwa lodge: $85 per person non resident ($68 for residents) per night with breakfast. Snack/Lunch between $8 and $14. 3-meal-dinner for $18 per person.
- The bonus: the manager, who is a Huddle member, offers a bottle of Usambara White Wine for each couple as a bonus for Huddler bookers!:)
These 10 ideas can be personnalized depending on your desire and expecially time… sometimes possible over a day (such as n°5, 6 and 8) or over several days… Please note that prices may change in the meantime, and that is just an idea of things to do based on what we have done (and liked) during our expatriation from 2012 to 2016. This list is not exhaustive, so feel free to suggest other ideas on the comment box below. Or if you need more information, comment or contact me at email@example.com. I can also share some good taxi contacs from Arusha.
If you are Huddle members, check out our HuddleBnB page to see the accommodation proposed by other members. Ideal to meet “insiders” who will help you to quickly “feel” and understand the country/town you are visiting! Have a nice trip & See you soon on Huddle! ***If you want to become a Huddle member, send us your email address so that we check who in your contacts are already Huddle members.
Credits: Elisabeth & Augustin Douillet ; Massai Lodge ; Kahawa ; River Trees ; Kaliwa Lodge