There are two airports you can fly into to reach Arusha:
Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA) is a 1 hour drive from Arusha and both taxi & shuttle transport is available to the city depending on the airline you arrive on.
Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO) is located in Nairobi, Kenya and is a 6-8 hour drive across the border to Arusha depending on the transportation.
Shuttle Service is available from Nairobi Airport to Arusha via the Impala Shuttle Service. The cost is $30 one-way and tickets should be booked at least a week in advance.
Taxi fare between KIA and Arusha is $50 USD (or TZS equivalent at current exchange rate) and requires no reservation.
Shuttle Service is available between KIA and Arusha for Precision Air flights for 10,000/= TZS.
To call a number in Tanzania, you must first dial the International Call Prefix in order to dial out of your own country; this is “001” in the US or “00” for Europe. (Note: If you are using a cellphone, you can use “+” instead of the International Call Prefix). Next, you must dial the Country Calling Code for Tanzania, “255”. If the number you are calling has a “0” at the beginning, drop the zero and enter the remaining 9 digits.
Unless you own a SIM Unlocked GSM 900/1800 international cellphone, your current phone will probably not work in Arusha. If not, you can buy a basic Nokia phone for about 45,000/= TZS (~ $30 USD) which is great for local travel. SIM Cards cost about 500/= TZS but will require a copy of your Passport to register it. All cellphone plans are pre-paid and many local duka’s (stores) sell prepaid vouchers.
Wireless Internet is available at some hotels and local cafes in town. Other hotels have paid internet access adjacent to the lobby and there are a few Internet Cafe’s in town which you can use to check email for a reasonable rate. Bring a USB drive if you need access to files but be wary of viruses on public computers – especially in the Internet Cafes.
When you think of packing clothing for Tanzania, think simple and light. It should be possible for you to launder your clothes at least once a week. There is no need to bring dressy clothing. The guidelines vary between men and women, and are somewhat dependent upon the activities you anticipate. Clothing is simple for men in Tanzania; Jeans or sturdy casual pants are appropriate for almost all occasions.
Moderately long shorts are acceptable in many locations, especially for younger men, but not as versatile as longer pants. You might want to bring a pair of casual pants and shirt for Sunday morning worship, but you’re not likely to want to wear a tie unless you’re the one bringing the message. T-shirts or very casual button-up shirts work well, but don’t count on ironing. Sturdy walking shoes work well in almost all circumstances.
The guidelines for women are a bit more complex. Around our homes, long shorts are fine, but elsewhere in Arusha, you should plan to wear long pants, capris or skirts so that you don’t appear to be what would be considered an immodest tourist. In most rural settings, you’ll probably need to wear a skirt or dress, or have a wrap with you to wear over trousers. You can always ask your hosts about what is appropriate for where you’re going. Normal tourist wear (shorts and bathing suits etc) is fine when you’re in tourist-mode in tourist locations.
We usually recommend that people bring comfortable sandals and walking shoes. We typically get by fine with a pair of comfortable flip flops, walking sandals that can get wet (like Chacos or Tevas) and a pair of tennis or walking shoes. You’ll want jeans and a sweatshirt in our cooler months for mornings and evenings, and you may appreciate a light rain jacket or wind breaker.
Though US Dollars are accepted at some hotels and higher end tourist shops, the prevailing currency is Tanzania Shillings (TZS). $100 and $50 Bills will give you the best Exchange Rate and must be newer than 2006. Only exchange what you absolutely need at the Airport or Border as you will get a much better exchange rate once in the cit.y We recommend Snowcrest Exchange north of Clock-tower to get the best rate. As always, keep money and valuables in a safe Travel/Money Pouch and be wary of pick-pockets.
Credit cards are a great emergency backup and useful as you travel to and from Tanzania, but credit cards are rarely accepted or carry a hefty surcharge (often 6%) if they are used in Arusha. Travelers’ checks can be exchanged for Tanzanian shillings at a Currency Exchange, but the exchange rate is very poor.
Arusha runs on 220-240 Volts AC power and most of the outlets are UK, so you will need adaptors for your laptop, etc. Please note that the power is not consistent and high fluctuations occur so make certain that valuable electronics are plugged into both a Surge Protector and a Voltage Regulator. This is also a good reminder to bring a reliable flashlight ;-)
[US to UK Power Adaptor]
Most laptops and electronics are able to plug into 110 – 240 Volts AC, so all you will need is an adaptor (typically US to UK). However, if you have a device that can only handle 110 Volts AC you will also need a Travel Voltage Converter/Transformer which will convert the voltage to the appropriate level.
Though there is always the possibility of illness you can minimize your risk by following some simple rules regarding food and water:
1. Only drink bottled, boiled, or treated water and bottled drinks.
2. Only brush your teeth with bottled or boiled water …not water from the tap.
3. If you are in a reputable restaurant recommended by your host go ahead and enjoy salads, fresh vegetables, fruit drinks, and milk drinks (ie; milk shakes). If you are not, avoid these things as you don’t know what water was used in cleaning or mixing.
4. Avoid ready made foods kept in display cases …especially any with meat in them. A good rule of thumb is to only eat what has been prepared on the spot for you and is served hot.
5. In village settings you will often be served tea/chai. This is usually quite safe as the milk, water and tea leaves are boiled together. Thick, yoghurt-like milk, a delicacy of the Maasai, is not often served to visitors as it’s scarce, but don’t be afraid to try it. We call it barbequed yoghurt :)
Recommended gear includes:
To get up to date info on what is recommended for Tanzania you can visit the Center For Disease Control’s website.
However, aside from staying up to date on your normal MMR & Tetanus shots, the primary vaccinations you will need are:
Malaria, though not prevalent, is a risk when visiting Tanzania. We recommend visiting a Medical Travel Clinic in order to determine what medication might be best for you to take. Aside from medication, prevention is the best cure so we recommend always sleeping under suitable mosquito netting or in a bug-proof tent and to wear long-sleeves and use insect repellent in the evenings.
Again, you can visit the Center For Disease Control’s website to begin researching various Malaria Medicines and the pro’s and con’s of each.
Swahili (KiSwahili) is the official & common spoken language in Tanzania. You can visit About.com to learn some Basic Swahili Phrases for Travelers. AfricanLanguages.com also has a handy online Swahili-English Dictionary as well. However, if you are planning on staying long-term we recommend studying “Simplified Swahili” by Peter M. Wilson available on Amazon.com.
Taxi’s are the primary mode of transportation (aside from rides you may receive from your hosts). Taxi’s are plain white vehicles which can be found at any main junction or hotel and standard fare in town ranges from 2,000/= to 6,000/= Shillings depending on how far you are traveling.
Dala Dala’s (small Toyota minivans) also travel throughout the city and the fare is usually around 300/= Shillings. Dala Dala’s are fairly safe during the day, but be especially wary of pickpockets, especially in close, cramped quarters. Dala Dala drivers are not, per se, the safest drivers and we do not recommend taking them at night for this and other security reasons.
Boda Boda’s (motorcycle taxi’s) are also common around town, but we do not recommend taking them due to the number of frequent accidents they encounter due to lane-splitting in high traffic areas.
Arusha does have a local Post Office which is, generally speaking, reliable. Be aware that for any packages sent to Arusha, the receiver will be required to pay an import tax roughly equivalent to 20% of the declared value of the package, so ask friends & family to estimate low or enter “No commercial value” on the package.
For commercial shipping, DHL has a local office and offers decent rates for packages to/from the states. Visit DHL to estimate shipping costs.
Always the great lure of Africa is the natural landscape and animal habitat. Arusha is home to over 300 Safari Companies eager for business to the local attractions; Arusha National Park, Ngorongoro Crater, Serengeti National Park and Mount Kilimanjaro being the most prominent near Arusha.
Safari companies can be found online for you to compare rates. Keep in mind that it is always cheaper to book with more people, so you can always check for other groups and individuals going on Safari to partner up with.
Even through recent political tensions, Arusha remains a non-threatening place. There are no discernable tensions between the Muslim and non-Muslim populations, no animosity to foreign visitors, and no strife between tribal groups. Because Arusha is the center of East African politics, host to the UN and Rwandan tribunal, and the starting point for many safaris, foreign guests are very much a part of the local economy.
The threat of pickpockets and thieves is a concern both as you travel and here in Arusha. Plan to be especially sensitive to those risks. Keep your money in multiple locations. Avoid showing much cash. In crowded situations wear your waist pack in front and avoid putting valuables in accessible areas of a backpack. Don’t allow someone to distract you, while their partner grabs your possessions.
In airport restrooms, don’t put anything on the floor where it could reached. Never leave anything unattended. If you are working in some of the slum areas its prudent to be with your Tanzania hosts while walking and to be off the streets well before dark. At your hotel leave any valuables with your host or at the hotel reception’s safe.
We also recommend registering with Smart Traveler Enrollment Program a a free service for US Citizens that enables you to register your contact & passport information online, receive travel warnings, alerts & updates and to easily get in touch with the nearest US Embassy should you need to do so.
If traveling through Nairobi, Kenya a $20 Transit Visa is required and is valid for up to 3 days. You can check the Kenyan Immigration Website for more information or updates on cost. Transit Visa’s are easily acquired upon arrival at the airport and must be purchased in USD.
Upon arrival in Tanzania, a $100 Multi-Entry Tourist Visa is required and remains valid for 90 days. You can check the Tanzanian National Website for more information or updates on cost. Tourist Visa’s are easily acquired upon arrival at the airport and/or border and must be purchased in USD.
Arusha sits at 1,400 meters (4,600 feet) near the southern slopes of Mt. Meru, keeping the temperature relatively stable and humidity relatively low. The temperature ranges between 13° and 30º degrees Celsius (55º and 86º Fahrenheit) with an average around 25º degrees Celsius (77º Fahrenheit).
There are two distinct rainy seasons in Arusha: The long Rainy Season is March-May with rains averaging every day to every few days while the short Rainy Season is November & December, with much shorter and less reliable rains. Bear in mind that Arusha’s Winter & Summer seasons are opposite that of the US and Europe, with the hottest season being in December, and the coolest in June.
For current weather updates visit the AccuWeather Forecast Site here.