For in-the-know locals and travelers alike, the downtown area is a place to linger and shop in a city known as a quick layover to safari destinations.
By By Shivani Vora
This sprawling city in the northern tourist region of Tanzania is the gateway to popular safari destinations and Africa’s highest peak, Mt. Kilimanjaro. But even if your stay is a brief stopover, you shouldn’t miss some of the stores that locals enjoy in Arusha’s downtown, an area of mostly low-slung concrete buildings where street vendors hawk everything from local crafts and fruit to children’s toys. These establishments sell goods made exclusively in this East African country and show off a side of Tanzania that’s beyond its prime game viewing.
A social enterprise and destination for design lovers, Shanga sells handicrafts made by Tanzanians with disabilities. These artisans produce an expansive range of goods such as drinking and wine glasses made with recycled colored glass, woven cotton shawls and place mats and decorative metal objects. Prices from $1.
Elewana Arusha Coffee Lodge, shanga.org
When Arushans want to buy local culinary staples such as peanuts and cashews, honey, dried fruits like bananas and mangoes, and spices like turmeric, chai masala and clove powder, they go to this simple store. On the second floor of a mall, Gohil’s stocks premium versions of these staples at affordable prices. Prices from $1.
20, First Floor, AIM Mall, gohils.co.tz
About 100 Masai women who live in the countryside around Arusha make the fashionable jewelry sold at this airy store. Their works range from delicate to dramatic, but beadwork is a common thread among the pieces — a slender cream bead bracelet was recently for sale, for example, but so was a thick cuff with bright red, blue and green beads. On Tuesday, market day, the women come from the countryside to display their talents on the lawn just outside the boutique. Prices from $15.
13 Kanisa Road, sidaidesigns.com
Burka Coffee Estates
Just beyond downtown, you can see verdant coffee plantations in the distance. A trip to this lush 1,200 acre coffee farm, built around 1899, is well worth it to learn about the pride Tanzanians take in their high-quality coffee production. Burka grows Arabica beans and produces five blends including its signature bold house variety; and for $35 a person, it’s possible to get a tour of the estate and the roasting facility, as well as a tasting. Prices from $7.
Dodoma Road, burkacoffee.com
Beate Allard, a Tanzanian with a Swiss background, sells stylish home goods and clothing out of an airy 1952 bungalow that’s adjacent to her Mediterranean restaurant, The Blue Heron. Expect eye catching wares such as lampshades made of cowhides, beaded candle holders, handwoven table linens and wooden footstools adorned with bright, patterned fabrics. Prices from $3.
The Blue Heron, Haile Selassie Road
A version of this article originbally apeared on The New York Times website with the title: Five Places to Shop in Arusha, Tanzania.
Cover photo: Shanga is a destination for design lovers in downtown Arusha, selling goods made by Tanzanians with disabilities. Photo: Adriane Ohanesian for The New York Times