Travelling Through Arusha's Past

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  13 December 2018       Oluwakemi Ojo       5 min read

8 Historical and Cultural Sites You Have to Visit in Arusha

Situated at the foothills of Mt. Meru, Arusha is a bustling town surrounding by a wide range of stunning national parks. The bustling town is renowned as the “safari capital of Tanzania’ because it is the starting point for a legendary northern circuit safari in Tanzania. However, the city is not only a safari town; it boasts a wide range of cultural and historical attractions that will leave you awestruck. A visit to Arusha is not complete without the knowledge of the town’s rich history and an opportunity to experience its culture.

Let’s take a look at some of the historical and cultural sites you should visit while in Arusha:

1. Arusha Cultural Heritage Centre

Arusha Cultural Heritage Centre is an interesting place to visit for cultural, art and shopping opportunities. It houses a commercial art gallery, a spice centre, restaurant, museum and a range of shops. The museum features a collection of art from the Makonde tribe people including Africa’s largest Makonde tree, and different types of Makonde tree specimens carved out of Ebony wood. You can explore the curio shops, bargain centre and the jewellery boutique, which feature a wide range of antiques and local crafts as well as stones, ornaments, and jewellery. You can find spices at the Spice centre and enjoy traditional dishes from the gallery restaurant.

Arusha Cultural Heritage Centre

Arusha Cultural Heritage Centre, Image Source: TourEastAfrica.Org

2. Arusha Declaration Museum

Located on Makongoro road, Arusha Declaration Museum showcases the political history of Tanzania under Ujamaa (socialism) and self-reliance. It was opened in 1977 and was the first museum in Arusha and in the larger Northern tourism circuit of Tanzania. The museum features a wide range of exhibits in form of photos, several statues and original artefacts.

Arusha Declaration Museum

Arusha Declaration Museum, Image Source: AfricanTourer.Com

3. Maasai Market

The Maasai Market is a great place for thrift shopping of legitimate handicrafts from the local community. You can also pick out souvenirs and gifts for your family and friends here. The vendors are friendly and warm but also be prepared to bargain and negotiate on the items.

Maasai Market

Exploring the Maasai Market in Arusha

4. Ng’iresi Village

Located in the lower slopes of Mt Meru just seven kilometres from Arusha town, you will find the Waarusha tribe here. Relatives of the Maasai, the Waarusha tribe are mainly farmers now after gradually moving from pastrolism. A guided tour of this village affords you age-old folklore as well as visiting traditional houses and enjoying an authentic traditional meal.

Ng’iresi Village

Ng’iresi Village, Image Source: SjoneAll.Net

5. Ngorongoro Conservation Area

Located southeast of Serengeti National Park, in the Arusha region of northern Tanzania, Ngorongoro Conservation Area is a UNESCO certified cultural and natural world heritage site. The area is an incredible natural wonder boasting vast expanses of highland plains, forests and a wide range of stunning wildlife species. Some of the wildlife species are endangered making the visit there all the more worthwhile as you get a chance to see them. It is also home to the world’s largest caldera called the Ngorongoro Crater.

Ngorongoro Conservation Area

Ngorongoro Conservation Area

6. Olduvai Gorge

Olduvai Gorge is located in the Guide to The Great Rift Valley, between the Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti National Park in Arusha. This is one of the sites in Africa believed to hold the earliest evidence of the existence of human ancestors in the world. Excavations from archaeologists put forward different kinds of hominids showing the progression of the first skull and brains of the human race.

Olduvai Gorge

Olduvai Gorge

7. Engaruka Ruins

This site features ruins and remains of what was once an Iron Age farming community abandoned centuries ago. Now a quiet corner in Arusha, Engaruka is considered one of the most important archaeological sites in the East African region. The site includes dams and stone circles that are now only ruins and evidence of a prosperous people who once inhabited the area.

Engaruka Ruins

Engaruka Ruins, Image Source: GypsyTanzaniaTours.Com

8. Laetoli Footprints

You’ll discover Laetoli footprints trail a few kilometres south of the Olduvai Gorge. The site is famous for the oldest hominine footprints that are preserved in volcanic ash in Tanzania. The entire footprint trail is almost 27 m long and includes impressions of about 70 early human footprints believed to be some of the oldest footprints known of early humans. A tour to this site will give you more insight into how they were discovered and what has been learnt of humans from these footprints.

Laetoli Footprints

Laetoli Footprints, Image Source: ThoughtCo.Com



Discover Arusha's Heritage

Don't forget to check out some of these amazing heritage sites when visiting Arusha. They are definitely worth the visit for anyone who loves a good origin story!

We'd love to hear from you If you have anything to add to our list or would like to tell us about your experience give us a shout!

Share your experience with us! Tag @Tripindigo on your social posts #EastAfricaRocks or simply comment below!

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