Most safaris start from Arusha apart from a few safaris that begin from Moshi, Dar es Salaam or from the neighbouring country, Kenya, through the Namanga border. Arusha, located in northern Tanzania, serves as a popular gateway to many stunning safari destinations. From this vibrant city, you can embark on thrilling safaris to some of the most renowned national parks and wildlife reserves in Tanzania.

Arusha is well-connected by air and road, making it a convenient starting point for your safari adventure in Tanzania. You can choose from a wide range of safari packages and tour operators in Arusha to tailor your journey to your preferences and interests. Whether you seek wildlife encounters, stunning landscapes, or thrilling adventures, Arusha is the perfect launchpad for your Tanzanian safari experience. Here are some of the top safaris that you can start from Arusha:

  1. Serengeti National Park Safari: Serengeti is one of Africa’s most iconic and diverse wildlife reserves, known for the Great Wildebeest Migration. Starting from Arusha, you can take a scenic flight or a road trip to Serengeti and witness an incredible array of wildlife, including lions, elephants, giraffes, and more.
  2. Ngorongoro Crater Safari: Ngorongoro Crater is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and offers a unique safari experience within the volcanic caldera. The crater’s enclosed environment supports an abundance of wildlife, making it an ideal spot for game viewing.
  3. Tarangire National Park Safari: Known for its massive elephant herds and baobab trees, Tarangire National Park is another fantastic safari destination near Arusha. The park’s diverse landscape attracts a wide variety of wildlife, making it an excellent place for photography and wildlife enthusiasts.
  4. Lake Manyara National Park Safari: Just a short drive from Arusha, Lake Manyara National Park is famous for its tree-climbing lions and vast birdlife. The park offers a picturesque setting with the backdrop of the Great Rift Valley escarpment.
  5. Mount Kilimanjaro Trek: If you’re up for a different kind of adventure, you can also start your Mount Kilimanjaro trek from Arusha. The highest peak in Africa, Kilimanjaro offers several trekking routes to suit different skill levels.
  6. Manyara Ranch Conservancy Safari: This private conservancy offers an exclusive and intimate safari experience. Guided game drives and walking safaris allow you to explore the area’s rich wildlife, including elephants, giraffes, and various antelope species.

Safaris from Arusha

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3 days Tanzania Safari - Tarangire, Ngorongoro, Lake Manyara

The 3-day Tanzania safari takes you to some of the country's most iconic wildlife destinations. Begin your journey in Arusha

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The brief 4 days Ngorongoro and Serengeti safari is an unforgettable journey through the iconic landscapes of Tanzania as this
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Get on this 4 days Tanzania unforgettable journey through the breathtaking landscapes and abundant wildlife of Tanzania with this 4-day
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5 Days Tanzania Safari

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The 6 days of wildebeest migration and calving safari welcomes you to the incredible world of wildebeest migration and calving
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6 days Tanzania Safari

A fulfilling 6 days Tanzania safari that showcases the heavyweights in the Northern Circuit, a journey through Tanzania's remarkable landscapes
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This is an active 6-day safari adventure that combines the best of Tanzania's national parks with an unforgettable hike from
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This is a 7-day fly-in luxury safari adventure that will take you deep into the heart of Tanzania's most iconic
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A mesmerizing 7-Day Safari that features Walking Along the Crater Rim and Visiting Maasai Village In this incredible 7-day adventure,
7 days Tanzania luxury safari

7 Days Tanzania Luxury Safari

7-day luxury safari in Tanzania where every moment is carefully crafted to offer an unforgettable experience is just for you
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Choose this romantic and adventurous 7-day honeymoon safari in Tanzania, a perfect way to celebrate your love amidst breathtaking wildlife
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8 Days Ndutu - Wildebeest Calving Season Safari

The 8 day Ndutu Exclusive Calving safari is 100% proof that there is never a dull day at the Ndutu
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This 10 day Mara River Crossing safari itinerary offers a unique opportunity to witness the awe-inspiring event of the great
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10 Days Lodge + Tented Camp Tanzania Safari + Materuni Cultural Tour

An incredible 10-day safari adventure in Tanzania combining both lodge safaris and Tented camping safaris at your pleasure, exploring the
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11-Day Tanzania Safari & Zanzibar Beach

This is an unforgettable 11-day journey through Tanzania's magnificent landscapes and wildlife. Begin in Arusha and visit Tarangire National Park,
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12-Day Tanzania Photography Safari

Our 12 days Tanzania Photographic safari takes you through the Northern Safari Circuit, a region renowned for its abundant wildlife,
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21 days Tanzania Safari + Zanzibar Beach - 3 Weeks in Northern and Southern Tanzania

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15-Day Kilimanjaro Machame Climb, Serengeti Safari, and Zanzibar

This 15-day safari, Kilimanjaro, and Zanzibar beach trip include climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, going on safari in the greatest national parks
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1 Day Ngorongoro Crater Safari

A day tour to Ngorongoro Crater will provide an opportunity to discover Tanzania wildlife through a one-day game drive activity.
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1 Day Trip Tarangire National Park

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Where is Arusha Located?

Arusha is located in northern Tanzania, East Africa. It is situated at the base of Mount Meru, the second-highest peak in Tanzania, and serves as the gateway to several world-famous safari destinations. The city of Arusha is approximately 50 kilometers (31 miles) southwest of Kilimanjaro International Airport, making it easily accessible for travelers arriving by air. Due to its strategic location, Arusha is a popular starting point for safaris to iconic national parks such as Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, Tarangire, and Lake Manyara. The city is also known for its vibrant markets, cultural heritage, and as a hub for adventure tourism, including trekking expeditions to Mount Kilimanjaro.

Arusha Connecting the Northern Circuit

Arusha is a pivotal city in Tanzania, serving as a crucial connecting point for the Northern Circuit safari destinations. The Northern Circuit is a popular route that takes travelers through some of the most iconic and diverse wildlife areas in Africa. From Arusha, visitors can embark on thrilling safaris to renowned national parks and conservation areas, including:

  1. Serengeti National Park: Known for its annual wildebeest migration and abundant wildlife, the Serengeti is a top destination for experiencing the African savannah.
  2. Ngorongoro Crater: A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Ngorongoro Crater is a breathtaking natural wonder teeming with wildlife, including the Big Five.
  3. Tarangire National Park: Famous for its large herds of elephants and diverse birdlife, Tarangire offers a unique safari experience.
  4. Lake Manyara National Park: Nestled at the base of the Great Rift Valley, Lake Manyara is renowned for its tree-climbing lions and diverse bird species.

Arusha acts as a starting point for these safaris, with numerous tour operators offering guided trips to these incredible destinations. After an exhilarating safari experience, visitors can return to Arusha to relax, explore local markets, or embark on other adventures, such as trekking Mount Kilimanjaro or exploring nearby cultural attractions. Its strategic location and wide range of services make Arusha an essential stop for travelers exploring the wonders of the Northern Circuit in Tanzania.

How far is Arusha from the National Parks?

The distance between Arusha and the various national parks of the Northern Circuit in Tanzania varies depending on the specific park. Here are approximate distances from Arusha to some of the popular national parks:

  1. Serengeti National Park: The distance from Arusha to the Serengeti’s main entrance (Ndabaka Gate) is about 325 kilometers (approximately 202 miles). The journey typically takes around 6-8 hours by road, depending on road conditions and the chosen route.
  2. Ngorongoro Crater: The Ngorongoro Conservation Area, where the Ngorongoro Crater is located, is approximately 180 kilometers (approximately 112 miles) from Arusha. The drive usually takes around 3-4 hours.
  3. Tarangire National Park: Tarangire is approximately 120 kilometers (approximately 75 miles) from Arusha, and the drive typically takes around 2-3 hours.
  4. Lake Manyara National Park: Lake Manyara is located about 130 kilometers (approximately 81 miles) from Arusha, and the drive usually takes around 2-3 hours.

Please note that travel times can vary based on road conditions, weather, and traffic. Additionally, some parks have multiple entry points, and the distances mentioned above are approximate distances to the main entrances of the parks. It’s essential to plan your safari with a reputable tour operator who can provide accurate information and arrange transportation to ensure a smooth and enjoyable journey to the national parks from Arusha.

Why do most safaris begin from Arusha?

Arusha is a popular starting point for most safaris in Tanzania, especially those to the Northern Circuit, for several reasons:

  1. Proximity to Major National Parks: Arusha is strategically located near some of Tanzania’s most famous national parks, such as Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, Tarangire, and Lake Manyara. This proximity makes it convenient for travelers to access these iconic safari destinations.
  2. Well-Developed Infrastructure: Arusha is a well-developed city with good infrastructure, including an international airport (Kilimanjaro International Airport) and a domestic airport (Arusha Airport). This makes it easy for travelers to fly into Arusha and begin their safari adventure seamlessly.
  3. Safari Tour Operator Hub: Arusha is home to numerous safari tour operators and agencies that specialize in organizing safari trips. These companies offer a wide range of safari packages, from budget-friendly to luxury options, catering to the diverse preferences of travelers.
  4. Acclimatization and Preparation: For those planning to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, Arusha’s higher elevation (approximately 1,400 meters or 4,600 feet above sea level) provides an ideal location for acclimatization before embarking on the trek.
  5. Cultural Attractions: Arusha itself offers cultural attractions, such as Maasai markets, where visitors can experience local customs, crafts, and interact with the Maasai people, providing a taste of Tanzanian culture before heading out to the wilderness.
  6. Scenic Beauty: Arusha is surrounded by stunning landscapes, including Mount Meru, which offers beautiful hiking opportunities for those who wish to explore the area further.
  7. Safari Briefings and Orientation: Travelers can attend pre-safari briefings in Arusha, where safari guides provide essential information about the itinerary, safety precautions, wildlife behavior, and conservation efforts, ensuring a well-prepared and informed safari experience.

Overall, the convenient location, availability of safari tour operators, and access to major national parks make Arusha an ideal and popular starting point for unforgettable wildlife adventures in Tanzania.

Where to stay in Arusha, before and after your safari

Arusha offers a range of accommodation options for travelers, both before and after their safari adventures. Here are some popular choices:

  1. Luxury Lodges and Hotels: Arusha boasts luxurious lodges and hotels that provide a high level of comfort and hospitality. These properties offer spacious rooms, elegant amenities, beautiful gardens, swimming pools, spa facilities, and fine dining restaurants. They are ideal for travelers seeking a luxurious and relaxing stay before or after their safari.
  2. Mid-Range Hotels and Guesthouses: There are many mid-range hotels and guesthouses in Arusha that offer comfortable and affordable accommodation. These properties typically provide well-appointed rooms, friendly service, and various amenities such as Wi-Fi, restaurants, and bars. They are suitable for budget-conscious travelers who still want a pleasant stay.
  3. Safari Camps: Some safari camps are located in or near Arusha, offering a unique and immersive experience in nature. These camps provide canvas tents or chalets with comfortable beds and en-suite facilities. Staying at a safari camp before or after your safari adds to the overall adventure and allows you to be closer to nature.
  4. Boutique Hotels and Resorts: Arusha also has boutique hotels and resorts that provide a more personalized and intimate atmosphere. These properties often have a distinct charm and character, with unique decor and special touches to make your stay memorable.
  5. Airport Hotels: For those arriving late at Kilimanjaro International Airport or departing early, there are several airport hotels in the vicinity of the Kilimanjaro airport. These hotels offer convenient and quick access to the airport, making them a practical choice for short stays.

When choosing accommodation in Arusha, consider factors such as location, budget, amenities, and reviews from other travelers. It is advisable to book your accommodation in advance, especially during peak safari seasons, to secure your preferred choice and ensure a comfortable stay before and after your exciting safari experience.

Things to do in Arusha, before and after safari

Arusha, often referred to as the “Gateway to Tanzania’s Northern Circuit,” offers a variety of activities and attractions for travelers to enjoy before and after their safari adventures. Here are some exciting things to do in Arusha:

Before Safari:

  1. Arusha National Park: Explore the beautiful Arusha National Park, home to diverse wildlife and landscapes, including lush forests, Momela Lakes, and the majestic Mount Meru. Take a game drive to spot animals like giraffes, zebras, buffalo, and rare black and white colobus monkeys.
  2. Cultural Tours: Immerse yourself in the local culture by visiting Maasai villages or engaging in cultural tours that showcase the traditional customs, music, dance, and crafts of the indigenous tribes.
  3. Coffee Plantation Tours: Arusha is known for its coffee production. Take a guided tour of coffee plantations to learn about the coffee-making process from bean to cup and savor freshly brewed coffee.
  4. Shopping at Local Markets: Visit the vibrant Maasai Market or the Central Market to shop for souvenirs, traditional crafts, and colorful fabrics.
  5. Hot Air Balloon Safari: Embark on a memorable hot air balloon safari over the Serengeti, offering breathtaking aerial views of the wildlife and landscapes.

After Safari:

  1. Relaxation: Unwind and relax at one of Arusha’s luxurious lodges or resorts, enjoying spa treatments, swimming pools, and serene surroundings.
  2. Shanga Workshop: Visit the Shanga Workshop, a social enterprise that employs people with disabilities to create beautiful handmade jewelry, glassware, and textiles. Support their work and purchase unique souvenirs.
  3. Visit Cultural Centers: Explore cultural centers like the Tanzanite Experience, where you can learn about the country’s precious gemstone and witness skilled artisans at work.
  4. Restaurants and Cafes: Sample delicious Tanzanian cuisine and international dishes at Arusha’s restaurants and cafes, catering to various tastes and preferences.
  5. Nature Walks and Hiking: Take leisurely nature walks or more adventurous hikes around Mount Meru or the nearby foothills, enjoying the scenic beauty and diverse flora and fauna.
  6. Wildlife Rehabilitation Centers: Visit places like the Meserani Snake Park or the Nkoaranga Orphanage to learn about wildlife conservation efforts and see rescued animals up close.

Whether you’re seeking adventure, cultural experiences, or relaxation, Arusha has something to offer for every traveler, making it an excellent starting or ending point for an unforgettable safari in Tanzania.

How to get to Arusha

Arusha, being a major city in Tanzania, is easily accessible by various means of transportation. Here’s how to get to Arusha:

  1. By Air:

    • Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO): The closest international airport to Arusha is Kilimanjaro International Airport, located about 46 kilometers (29 miles) east of Arusha. Many international airlines operate flights to JRO from major cities around the world.
    • Julius Nyerere International Airport (DAR): For travelers coming from other parts of Africa or regions with more flight options, Julius Nyerere International Airport in Dar es Salaam is a common entry point. From Dar es Salaam, you can take a domestic flight to Kilimanjaro International Airport or Arusha Airport.
  2. By Road:

    • From Kilimanjaro International Airport: After landing at JRO, you can hire a taxi or arrange for a pre-booked transfer to Arusha, which takes around 1 to 1.5 hours depending on traffic.
    • From Dar es Salaam: If you arrive at Julius Nyerere International Airport in Dar es Salaam, you can travel to Arusha by bus, shuttle service, or private car. The journey takes approximately 8-10 hours, depending on road conditions and the chosen mode of transportation.
  3. By Shuttle Services:

    • Many shuttle companies operate regular services between major cities and towns in Tanzania, including Arusha. These shuttles are a convenient and affordable option for travelers.
  4. By Bus:

    • Long-distance buses connect Arusha with various cities and towns in Tanzania. Buses are available from both Kilimanjaro International Airport and Dar es Salaam. However, the journey may take longer compared to other modes of transportation.
  5. By Private Transfer:

    • Some tour operators and hotels offer private transfers from airports or other locations directly to Arusha. This option provides personalized service and may be more convenient for large groups or families.

It’s important to consider your preferences, budget, and travel time when choosing the best way to get to Arusha. Whichever mode of transportation you choose, you’ll be greeted with warm Tanzanian hospitality and the excitement of exploring this vibrant city and its surrounding natural wonders.