Villages & Home Life:
Iraqw villages and huts serve a main role in the Iraqw society. Their huts are built with woven sticks patted down with mud and enclosed with a straw or metal sheet roof. Inside you will find many rooms, each serving a unique purpose:
- #1. Tool room for men
- #2. Tool room for women
- #3. Room to store cattle
- #4. Occasionally, an underground room
The underground rooms were originally built to help protect themselves from the Maasai. Throughout history, the Maasai and Iraqw have had their fair share of differences and have often been warring communities. Even today, hints of animosity still remain.
Within the huts, social rules are at play. Each room is divided by gender. Men, their tools and their equipment are to reside in one room only to be accessed by the males of the household, while females, their tools and their equipment resides in a separate section of the home only to be accessed by the women of the home.
Even with most Iraqw people practicing either Christianity or Islam, the Iraqw people still remain devoted to their own way of life and religion. Their religion is centered around two deities, one female and the other male.
The Iraqw believe their ancestors play an active, important role in their lives.
They believe that when their own lives come to an end, they too become a spiritual ancestor and move to an underground world while still maintaining good relations with the living world.
In the Iraqw tribes, one’s wealth is determined by the number of animals they own. The Iraqw are known to be skilled in agriculture and livestock breeding. Traditionally, the Iraqw grow maize, beans, potatoes, and onions. They also breed sheep, goats and chicken. When they are not busy tending to their animals and crops, you may find the men blacksmithing or partaking in other metal work and the women crafting pottery or making rugs for their homes.
Arusha City Map
Arusha Mini Guide
Located in north eastern Tanzania, Arusha is the capital of the Arusha Region. The city is situated under the towering giant Mount Meru, and Mount Kilimanjaro is just 82.6km away.
Arusha was first settled in the 1830s by the Arusha Maasai. These agropastoral settlers belonged to the Arusha Chini community who lived south of Mount Kilimanjaro.
Arusha is the safari capital of Tanzania, and a popular stopover for adventurers who are preparing for a Kilimanjaro trek.
It is possible to rent a car in Arusha but parking costs $0.50 per day throughout the city. It is far more common to hire a driver, and this is particularly useful for daytrips to Arusha National Park. If you are renting a vehicle, make sure that there is no charge for ‘extra kilometres’, as this can become expensive.
Dala dalas (small minibuses) are common throughout Tanzania and these only depart when they are full. They cost 400 TSH/person and they operate along the major roads throughout the day. You will find a large station on Stadium Street.
You can also take a bajaji (tuk-tuk) for a one-dollar ride to the city centre. None of these options are particularly comfortable or safe, but they do offer an authentic Tanzanian experience.
Taxis are available and they can usually be found parked in front of hotels. A ride across town should not cost more than $2.50.
There are some Bureaus de Change in Arusha clustered around the Clock Tower, and some ATMs in the city centre. It is a good idea to stop by these before your safari to take out some notes. There are not many other options during the Northern Circuit and it is good to have cash to buy souvenirs or tip drivers and guides.
Arusha is relatively safe for tourists, but it is wise not to wear too much jewellery. The risk increases at night, and we do not recommend walking the streets after dark. But in general, the city is known for its welcoming atmosphere, and the people are very pleased to have such a thriving tourism economy, meaning the locals treat tourists well. We recommend that you travel the city by taxi since dala dalas (small minibuses) and bajajis (tuk-tuks) are more dangerous. A taxi ride across town should not cost more than $2.50.
No, you cannot see Kilimanjaro from Arusha. Mt Kilimanjaro is situated 82.6km away from Arusha.
There is more to Arusha than initially meets the eye. With impressive museums, cultural heritage programmes, crafts, and curio markets galore, there is plenty to explore before you start your safari.
The city is multinational, with Iraqw, Hadzabe, Maasai, South Asian, and European residents.
The streets are bustling, with Maasai women sat on the sidewalks selling their beadwork, Maasai men wandering through town in their traditional red swathes, enterprising businessman trying to sell batiks, and tour guides offering various exciting 4WD adventures.
Despite this intensity, the city has a warm, welcoming atmosphere. Matching the ambiance of the city, the architecture and infrastructure is chaotic, with hectic traffic and old colonial buildings mixed with modern conveniences.
There are some excellent authentic street-food options in Arusha. At Discovery Restaurant, you can sit beside Maasai men and enjoy a Myama choma (roasted meat and maize), chapati, pilau, or biryani.
Alternatively, try out Khan’s BBQ on Mosque Street, which serves great chicken dishes, Indian style chutneys, naans, and salads.
More upmarket options can be found in the Eastern side of town. Some of the best dining options are found outside of the city. The Themi Living Gardens is a leafy spot where you can eat at the eco-restaurant, Eat Wild. The Mulberry is another outer-city oasis where you can sit back and enjoy cocktails as you watch the sunset. For travellers who like to party, this is an excellent spot for pre-drinks.
The city has a lively nightlife, with several bars and nightclubs (we recommend Via Via) and a growing live music scene. There are weekly acts at the Mount Meru Game Lodge, Blue Heron, and the Fig and Olive.
In the City
There are several budget options in Arusha, including The African Tulip and the Impala Hotel.
The Impala Hotel: A large hotel with a pool and restaurant, and it is a great option if you are looking for a place to stay after an international flight or the night before a safari.
The African Tulip: A quaint boutique hotel which offers an airport shuttle. Most of the upmarket hotels can be found in the eastern area of Arusha. The Gran Melia Arusha offers fantastic views of Mt Meru, a well-stocked bar, a spa, and a pool.
In the Suburbs
Some of the best accommodation options in Arusha lie outside of the city. The less expensive options include Onsea House, Rivertrees, and Arumeru River Lodge.
Onsea House: A charming boutique guesthouse that was originally a farmhouse. It has two swimming pools, a sauna, a steam room, and a jacuzzi, and its gardens are tranquil. The guesthouse also has a restaurant which serves delicious food.
The guesthouse is only an hour away from the airport, making it an excellent place to relax before or after a safari. Onsea House offers 2 double suites and a family suite that overlooks the Meru Valley. The adjacent self-contained cottage is perfect for families.
Arumeru River Lodge: A peaceful lodge which offers great access to Kilimanjaro International Airport. It has vast gardens which are home to dik-diks, monkeys and countless bird species. On a clear day, the lodge has exceptional views of Mt Meru and Mt Kilimanjaro. The lodge organises horseback safaris and it is tastefully furnished with traditional dhow furniture.
Rivertrees Lodge: Located on an old coffee farm and with views of Mt Meru and Mt Kilimanjaro, the lodge is an excellent base for trekking. The delicious food matches the high quality of the coffee, and its oven-fired pizza pit is popular with its guests.
Arusha Coffee Lodge: Just a 25-minute drive from Arusha, this old plantation brims with luxury. The exquisitely decorated rooms are spread across the grounds and each room has its own indoor fireplace. Given that the lodge is a former coffee plantation, it offers tours of the old plantation house and coffee-making process. The theme of coffee runs throughout the hotel – in the bar, restaurant, gardens, and even the spa.
On the one hand, you must visit Arusha on any trip to Tanzania – this is the starting point for some of Tanzania’s most famous sites, including Kilimanjaro, the Serengeti, and Ngorongoro Crater. So, should you stay more than one night in Arusha? There is certainly plenty to do in the town – from cultural programmes, to museums, to shopping to day trips – there is enough to spend at least two days. If you already have a full itinerary, including hiking, safaris, and beach work in Zanzibar, then perhaps it is best to only stay one night in one of Arusha’s attractive plantation guesthouses.
Arusha is known for being the safari capital of Tanzania, and a popular stopover for adventurers who are preparing for a Kilimanjaro trek.