Arusha, the gateway to the world famous game sanctuaries of Serengeti, Ngorongoro, Tarangire and Lake Manyara, is one of the oldest towns in Tanzania. From a tiny German garrison in 1900, Arusha has grown to become the tourist capital of Tanzania with a population of about 400,000 people. At 1,540 metres above sea level, Arusha enjoys a very agreeable climate throughout the year. Positioned at the centre of Africa between the Cape and Cairo on the Great North Road, Arusha is the administrative seat of the East African Community made up of Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda. Arusha offers an excellent opportunity for authentic souvenir shopping, including the bold Makonde carvings, and the colourful Tinga Tinga works and batiks. Tanzanite, the native gemstone of Arusha, and one of the most beautiful and exciting gems to come from Africa, is sold in all gemstone shops in town alongside other locally mined stones like Ruby, Rhodolite and Tourmaline. Tanzanite was first discovered in 1967, some 40 kilometers to the southeast of Arusha at Mererani. To date Mererani remains the only commercially viable source for Tanzanite in the world. Tanzanite was named after Tanzania.
Arusha National Park
Lying between the peaks of Kilimanjaro and Meru, Arusha National Park is an outstandingly beautiful area. The Park has a wide range of habitats, from the string of crater lakes where many water birds can be watched, through the highland mountain forest and on up to the imposing summit of Mount Meru. The forests contain a wealth of birds and other animals, like the beautiful bushbuck easily glimpsed in the grades between the ancient cedar trees or the black and white Colobus monkeys climbing along their branches. The interesting geology of the area is reflected in the impressive view of the ash cone and cliff face leading to the summit of Mount Meru. Everywhere throughout the Park there are chances to observe the natural world at its own pace, to see different animals in their various habitats and absorb something of the serenity of the surroundings. Those who ascend the summit of the mountain will be rewarded with unparalleled views of the majestic Mount Kilimanjaro and the Great Rift Valley.
Arusha National Park is a relatively small park, covering an area of 137 square kilometers (52.9 square miles), and lies near the town of Arusha. The town and the Park derive their name from the Warusha people who traditionally lived in this area. However the Park also overlaps into areas where the Maasai lived and most of the place names in the Park are of Maasai origin. The park has different vegetation zones and places with different types of animals: migrating water birds settle on the lakes, waterbuck and reedbuck are found near the water, while shy bushbuck and duikers keep to the forested areas. It is obviously impossible to say exactly where different species will be encountered but it is possible to build up a picture of the most likely species to be found in any area. Within this wide range of habitats almost 400 species of birds have been recorded in the Park. Some of these are migratory and present between October and April, others are permanent residents in the forests.