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Spend a few days in Arusha before safari?

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New Orleans, LA
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Spend a few days in Arusha before safari?

I will be traveling to JRO for a safari next summer with my husband and children, ages 10,12,15 & 18. We are considering arriving a couple of days early in Arusha so that we can recover from the trip from the US. We would want to look around a bit but not do too many organized activities. Is Arusha a safe and reasonable option for us to have some low-key time to begin to acclimate to the rhythms of Africa?

Chicago
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1. Re: Spend a few days in Arusha before safari?

Yes, it would be fine, or you could also choose Moshi, which is a bit smaller. There are many things to do in the area, to just get acclimated and ready for the safari. There are day trip options like Arusha National park, or cultural trips and waterfall visits out of Moshi. You can also get a sim card/phone, get money exchanged, do some basic shopping for the safari (drinks, etc.). You can visit schools or orphanages (maybe even take some donations). An interesting place to visit in Arusha is Shanga, which has a crafts workshop for disabled individuals, with a nice giftshop and restaurant. You can visit the Maasai Marketplace to do some browsing or souvenir shopping. I stayed for 2 nights at Tumaini Cottages, which is a very friendly, quiet place, although no pool for the children. It is safe during the day, but be careful out at night. Be prepared for many street sellers wherever you go, but you get used to it-most are pushy, but also friendly and will usually take no for an answer.

Ottawa, Canada
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2. Re: Spend a few days in Arusha before safari?

I wouldn't say it was low key, no. It is going to be a culture shock, but you can control that to a point. The city has grown faster than its infrastructure and given the nature of the culture, it is loud, car congested and pedestrians have no right of way. However, you can stay in lodges on the periphery that have some garden space and ideally a pool. These are often fenced like compounds so you hsve a feeling of removal. It doesn't stop the regular noises, but it will help you deal with the jetlag and adjustment. Work with your TO to suggest a lodginh that would be slightly removed but enable you to walk around a bit. If close enough, I might suggest a visit to Shanga House. It is a workshop for disabled and deaf citizens who otherwise would be a severe burden on their families. Here, they earn a wage, learn a skill and demonstrate that they are zble to be independent. This is not yet accepted in their culture. They do lovely crafts, jewelry, glass work. There is also a restaurant attached with local food that would be interesting to try. I can vouch that it is healthy and safe to eat there.

With your ages of kids, some might be interested in doing some kind of cultural activity. I know you aren't looking at a bunch of formal activities, but if that is of interest to some, this is a good link for consideration http://tanzaniaculturaltourism.go.tz/

It doesn't appear from your TA postings that you have been to developing countries, so yes, it would be interesting and helpful to spend a few days in Arusha first.

New Orleans, LA
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3. Re: Spend a few days in Arusha before safari?

Thanks to you both. I appreciate your input. This is our first trip to a developing country so perhaps some time to settle in a bit would be a good call.

Arusha, Tanzania
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4. Re: Spend a few days in Arusha before safari?

You can do some short tour around lake duluti, Visit some maasai villages,water falls, museums, coffee plantations etc.

Findlay, Ohio
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for Tanzania, Ngorongoro Conservation Area
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5. Re: Spend a few days in Arusha before safari?

You will have a good time just relaxing in Arusha and going about the town. There are many things to do there and if nothing else just relaxing and getting used to the environment. But with kids, just make certain that you would keep as close a watch on them as you would on Bourbon Street in your city.

Ottawa, Canada
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6. Re: Spend a few days in Arusha before safari?

Our well experienced poster may find Arusha relaxing, others not so much on the first trip, but you can relax at the lodges on the outskirts when they form a bit of a cocoon effect. However, if wanting to get into town or other places, with six of you, transport wil become trickier. Sometimes there are van taxis, or you might need two sedan taxis....and you need to negotiate prices. Bear in mind what you want to do and choose the lodge location from that.

Sciguy's suggestion of Moshi is thoughtful. It is smaller and calmer. I spent a month there last year. You are less reliant on taxis, but, it will add two hours to your safari first morning.

Chicago
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7. Re: Spend a few days in Arusha before safari?

By going to Moshi you might also get a better view of Mt. Kilimanjaro, although it is very tricky. I never did get a real view. I took a great relaxing day trip there to the Marangu gate to see climbers start up the mountain, visit a Chagga house and cave, and a great hidden waterfall by Zara tours. I think the children might like that, and if you can find a nice hotel near town with a pool, this might be a better relaxation, although there would be more to do in Arusha overall.

Bristol
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8. Re: Spend a few days in Arusha before safari?

Another vote for Moshi in preference to Arusha. We have spent quite a bit of time there on our last 2 trips. You get far less "attention" in Moshi so it's much easier to just wander around. In 3.5 weeks in Moshi hardly anyone approached us trying to sell stuff and if they did a polite " Hapana Asante" meant they left us alone. In Arusha the sellers were far more pushy and the whole town much larger and busier.

We stayed at TemboTamu B&B which is in an excellent position, you can easily walk into town from there (about 30-40mins). Its in a quiet safe neighbourhood. Sandra the owner is very helpful and will organise anything for you. The food is excellent and you are made to feel like one of the family. Frank (Sandra's Tanzanian husband) and Tony, their son, are both great. Loads to do in and around Moshi, wander round the shops and visit the cafes, bars and restaurants, visit the waterfalls at Marangu, visit the Memorial market, visit a school, visit lake Chala, visit the Sculpture garden owned by Sandra's friend (great chocolate cake).... I could go on. At TemboTamu you are about a 15 minute walk from the Keys hotel where you can get a meal and use the pool for a small charge.

If you want somewhere with a few more facilities look at Honey Badger Lodge. We have also stayed there on a previous visit. It's a bit further out of town, so not so convenient for town as TemboTamu but has a pool. This has more of a hotel feel to it but in a very laid back friendly way. Jenny and Joey the owners are lovely and again happy to arrange anything for you. They also support the Second Chance Education Centre which is next door and worth a visit.

Remember whereever you stay it is not advisable to wander about after dark (so after about 6.30 in the evening) and always keep valuables like cameras, phones, laptops etc out of sight when walking around. Just be sensible.

Having stayed at both places I would highly recommend them both and both get excellent reviews on TA.

Darwin, Australia
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9. Re: Spend a few days in Arusha before safari?

I spent time in Arusha with my 16 year old before and after safari. He enjoyed it but then we have travelled to Asia so the crowds and congestion were something we had experienced before. With the kids I would suggest something like Ilburo Safari Lodge that is on the outskirts but has a nice pool. After safari we stayed in Arusha national park to unwind before going to Zanzibar, I think the kids would enjoy a day trip there to see the colobus monkeys.

Arusha is as mentioned, crowded, noisy and everything is happening in a manner of organised chaos, it depends if you are comfortable with this.

10. Re: Spend a few days in Arusha before safari?

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