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Located on the fertile southern side of Mount Meru in northern Tanzania, Arusha started life as a Maasai trading post in the 1830s, and then became a German military garrison from 1896 and a British colonial administration centre after the First World War. Today’s Arusha is sprawling and somewhat traffic-congested and, with a population of around 1.7 million, is officially a city. It’s also the safari capital of Tanzania thanks to its location near the wildlife-rich Northern Circuit parks that span out to the west — the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, and Serengeti, Lake Manyara and Tarangire National Parks — while Arusha and Kilimanjaro National Parks lie to the north-east. The streets are always filled with 4WD game-viewing vehicles carrying expectant and excited tourists, while dozens of little planes depart from the airport each day ferrying the well-heeled to and from the reserves’ luxury lodges and camps. Arusha is a welcoming and bustling place to stay for a day or two before heading out into the wilds, or to recover from the rigours of the road, post-safari. After a stroll around the easily walkable streets in the centre to visit the cafes, markets and curio shops, taxis can take you to outlying attractions or a tour operator may include them in your safari itinerary.

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