Lying at the foot of Mount Meru surrounded by rolling green farmlands and cool climes, Arusha is a city of delightful dichotomies. Lush, green vegetation, pleasant year-round climes, and a plethora of excellent places to stay and eat, the city is a welcome respite from the dusty roads of Africa.
On the hand, however, the city is also known as the undisputed gateway to the legendary Northern Tanzania safari circuit and its lively, bustling energy and colourful culture synonymous with any African city, as well as the myriad touts offering all sorts of deals can be slightly overwhelming.
However, look beyond the chaos and the city is well worth exploring before heading off on safari. Often overlooked by visitors heading off to the better-known reserves, but well worth seeing in its own right is the Arusha National Park, which lies just north of town.
Elephant, buffalo, and giraffe roam the vast tracts of open savannah, while leopard and hyena hide in the shade of acacia scrublands that dot the landscape. Swampy wetlands are packed with wallowing hippos and prostrate crocodiles, while over 400 species of birds make this their park home – a perfect pre-safari taste of what’s to come.