On Safari in the Serengeti
July 2023: Day 3

The City of Arusha


Our flight from Doha to Kilimanjaro Airport departed at 0145 - yes 1:45 in the early morning! Getting to the departure lounge was a welcome relief from the 22 hour layover we had between flights. We met up with Cathy and Eileen, our travel companions, in the departure lounge. Their layover from Seattle was only a few hours. The flight to Kilimanjaro was 6 hours. It was operated by Oman Air, a good flight but a no frills service. On landing in Kilimanjaro we had a long walk from the plane to the terminal (no airbridges here) and then the queue for Immigration. We all had pre-approved visas for Tanzania so the paperwork did not take long, then our luggage was screened for plastic (no disposable plastics allowed in Tanzania). Outside we were met by our transfer driver. We were surprised at the pleasant lack of a wall of heat - it was only 8am but we were only 2° from the Equator. It was June so technically Winter (i.e. the Sun was at its furtherest position North ).

Airport to Arusha

Although Arusha has its own airport, the main international airport is at Kilimanjaro, about 45km or an hour drive east of Arusha. We first passed cultivated land growing crops especially corn. As we neared Arusha settlements and houses grew more numerous, with many more people on the road. We were transferred from the airport to our overnight accommodation at the Planet Lodge Arusha. This proved to be a comfortable oasis near the edge of Arusha. Here we dropped our luggage, met with the Barking Zebra travel team for a briefing then we embarked on a tour of Arusha.


We departed the Lodge and negotiated the main street to get to the Cultural Centre, a modern building full of arts and crafts. We returned through the town to George's Tavern for a late lunch before we experienced the sights, sounds and smells of the main food market.

We soon found Arusha to be typical of third-world cities undergoing rapid development - a mix of old and modern buildings, shanties, roadside commerce and hopelessly inadequate infrastructure especially roads. The roads were paved, at least a central strip was, but traffic had created another two or three lanes alongside in the dust, so everything near the roads was coated in red. Road rules were absent - getting your nose in front gives you right-of-way. The road was shared by large trucks, buses, vans, cars, tuk-tuks, motor-bikes, push-bikes, handcarts, fruit and furniture sellers, pedestrians and beggars. In other words - chaos - to a Westerner brought up with strick adherence to the road rules.

Arusha Cultural Center and African Art Gallery

Near the western end of the main street we reached the Cultural Centre, a modern building full of arts and crafts. Then we experienced the sights sounds and smells of the main food markets before heading to George's Tavern for a late lunch.

Arusha Markets

From the Cultural Centre we headed to the Arusha Markets to experience the sights, sounds and smells of the main food market. This was a sensory overload, from crowds of people, narrow rough pathways between stalls and the smells of spices, fruit and dried fish!

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Last updated: 10 August 2023