Karatu is a small town in the Arusha District, perfectly located on the borders of Lake Manyara National Park and Ngorongoro Crater, giving it the nickname ‘Safari Junction’. It is often used as a quick stop over in-between safari trips or as a cheaper accomodation option compared to staying on the rim of the Crater and within Lake Manyara National Park. If you only see it as a stop over though, you might miss out on some amazing cultural tourism and outdoor action! If you have a few more days, check out what Karatu itself has to offer, giving you a break in between safaris.
Karatu is within the Arusha District. It is best reached by car or bus from Arusha. The 150 km on a decent road will take just over two hours. The international airport for Arusha is Kilimanjaro Airport (JRO), about 45 minutes away from the city. A cheaper option is to take a bus or dala dala. This can take up to three hours and should be between 5000-7000 Tsh. These can often get crowded and for the cheap price you often miss out on comfort. It is generally advisable to take a bus that arrives before night falls for safety reasons.
If you are willing to splurge a bit more money, a small plane to the Lake Manyara airstrip is also recommendable. Coastal Aviation and Air Excel both fly from Arusha to Manyara for around 100 US$ as a stopover on their way to the Serengeti. Watch out because this flight is most likely leaving from Arusha Airport, a small local airport, rather than Kilimanjaro Airport, which you might have arrived from via an international flight. From the Manyara airstrip, it is about a 30 minute drive to Karatu, either by taxi or through a transfer arranged by us.