Arusha is the safari capital of Northern Tanzania. The most remarkable thing about it these days is probably the amount of traffic that manages to jam its streets daily. However, it is set in the perfect position for accessing all the major parks in Northern Tanzania, whether by road or by scheduled flight from Arusha Airport. The town is built right underneath the 15,000 ft extinct volcano Mt Meru. The mountain has a habit of hiding in the stratus cloud that's a regular feature of this part of Tanzania in July and August. However when the cloud clears, which it generally does by early afternoon, the views of the mountain are really impressive. Like many towns in Tanzania, there's not a great deal to be said about it, and, beyond a short visit if you happen to be passing with time to spare, our advice would be that time is better spent in the bush. Most people begin or end their safaris to northern Tanzania in Arusha, generally choosing one of the hotels in the surrounding areas. Kilimanjaro airport is 30 miles away.
On the road that runs between Moshi and Arusha, there are numerous small, but growing, ribbon developments; Maji ya Chai, Usa River, Tengeru to name but a few. Within 20 miles or so of Arusha, the land to the north of the road rises up steeply into the fertile, banana clad foothills of Mt Meru, while to the south, the land rapidly gives way to the dry and increasingly barren plains that form the edge of the Maasai Steppe. Secreted amongst these scattered villages lie quite a number of small hotels that we recommend as places to spend a night or so catching up after the joy of your international flight, and before you head off on safari. While we wouldn't go so far as saying that this area is somewhere to visit in its own right (having lived here for quite a number of years) it's very well placed for accessing both the two airports that service this part of the country (Kilimanjaro and Arusha) and the major parks in Northern Tanzania. At certain times of year, you'll also be treated to stunning, and often quite unexpected, views of both Mt Meru (15,000ft) and Mt Kilimanjaro (19,000ft).