CLOCK TOWER A POINT BETWEEN CAIRO & CAPE TOWN, WITH MT. MERU
Arusha is one of Tanzania's city most attractive towns and was the headquarters of the East African Community in the days when Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda were members of an economic, communications and customs union. It has once again become the headquarters of a revived clone of this attempt at regional cooperation under the name of East African Cooperation, following the signing of a number of protocols by the three heads of state in November 1994 and a further 'summit' meeting in April 1996. Arusha elevation is 1135 meters above sea level.
United National International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (UN-ICTR) is also based here.
The town sits in lush, green countryside at the foot of Mt. Meru (4556m) and enjoys a temperate climate throughout the year. Surrounding it are many coffee, wheat and maize estates tended by the Waarusha and Wameru tribes people, whom you may see occasionally in the market area of town. For travelers, Arusha is the gateway to Serengeti, Lake Manyara Tarangire and Arusha national parks and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. As such, it's the safari capital of Tanzania. Mt. Meru can also be trekked from here.
Arusha is a pleasant town to walk around and take in the sights, and the market area is particularly lively, but the main concern of most travelers will be arranging a safari and taking off for the national parks. You'll find people here very friendly and easy to approach and, if you've just arrived from Nairobi, you'll appreciate the breath of fresh air and lack of hassle. But, as always, be wary of 'flycatchers' (street touts grubbing up business for safari companies, real or imagined).
The town is in two parts, separated by a small valley through which the Naura River runs. The upper part, just off the main Moshi to Namanga road, contains the government buildings, post office, immigration, most of the top-range hotels, safari companies, airline offices, curio and craft shops, and the huge Arusha International Conference Center (AICC). Further down the hill and across the valley are the commercial and industrial areas, the market, small shops, many of the budget hotels and the bus station.
There are several foreign exchange (forex) bureaus in Arusha. Some will change both cash and travelers' cheques as well as give cash advances in local currency against credit cards. Others will not change travelers' cheques - cash only. Most of the bureaus are open from 9am to 5pm. You can also change money and at much the same rates as the forex bureau, at the National Bank of Commerce at the clock tower at the junction of Sokoine and Sinoni Rd. It's open Monday to Friday from 8.30 am to 3pm and on Saturday from 8.30 am to noon.
The immigration office is on Simeon Rd near the Makongoro Rd junction. The people here are reasonably efficient and helpful if you need a visa extension.