Best Outdoor Activity to Do in Arusha, Tanzania: Mountain Biking
Arusha is a city located in the north-eastern part of Tanzania, just below Mount Meru and close to a bunch of popular attractions:
- Serengeti National Park
- Ngorongoro Conservation Area
- Lake Manyara National Park
- Olduvai Gorge
- Tarangire National Park
- Mount Kilimanjaro
- Arusha National Park
Due to its proximity to all these destinations, Arusha is often used as a base for adventure travelers.
Unfortunately, I visited during the rainy month of October (because of cheap tickets), so it rained for almost 80% of my time in Tanzania, destroying any plans I had of going to the national parks.
But I wasn’t too bothered about it because I was also going to Kenya, where safaris are generally cheaper. Instead, I spent my time in Arusha going mountain-biking and kayaking.
The best time to visit Arusha, Tanzania is from June to October, which are the driest months. If you’re going to see the wildlife, this is a great time to spot them since they normally gather around the waterholes. Besides, rainfall is also minimal, the vegetation is not too thick, and there are not too many mosquitoes.
However, the early mornings and nights of June through August can be cold, so make sure you bring some warm clothes. From late October to December and from March to May, most of the annual rainfall occurs. If you don’t mind getting wet, visiting during this time promises you lush, green landscapes, and also some migratory birds.
How to Get to Arusha, Tanzania
The easiest way to get to Arusha is by flying directly to Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO), which has regular flights to Amsterdam, Addis Ababa, Dar es Salaam, Zanzibar, and Nairobi. It is situated approximately 60km (45 minutes) from the city center. A taxi ride should cost USD 50, but many airlines offers free or cheap shuttle service.
Alternatively, you can fly to Julius Nyerere International Airport (DAR) in Dar es Salaam and get a connecting domestic flight to Arusha Airport (ARK), which is just on the outskirts of the city.
Arusha can also be reached by express coach from Nairobi, Kenya (6 hours), Dar es Salaam (12 hours), Kampala, Uganda (17 hours) and other regions in Tanzania, such as Mwanza, Tanga, and Lushoto. Many coach companies offer first-class tickets, which are very comfortable.
Before my trip, I searched on Couchsurfing for a place to stay. And that was how I met Carissa, a local guide who offered to host me for two nights in her home in Arusha.
As any female traveler who has ever used the platform can attest to, it is very, very rare to get an invitation from a female host, so the moment I saw her message, I was almost jumping with joy.
Carissa also told me that she organized cycling tours around Arusha on mountain bikes. I had never been on a mountain bike before, and in all of my adult years, I had only been on regular bikes for about eight times in total.
But I told her I’d give it a try.
Namic Bike Adventures
Carissa owns a tour company called Namic Bike Adventures.
It all started when she left her job in the city and moved to Arusha to be surrounded by nature (it required some hike to get to her house).
Apart from mountain-biking, she is very passionate about animals, the environment, and being in the wilderness.
She soon realized that she could combine her passion for nature and mountain-biking, and turn it into a career. Thus, Namic Bike Adventures was born. The name stands for “Nature Miracles” and C for Carissa.
The company now has a team of guides who are determined to give you the best and most affordable mountain-biking adventures to all beautiful destinations in Arusha.
Tour Options at Namic Bike Adventures
Namic Bike Adventures offers many different tour options to suit your personal preference and skill level. Here are some of the most popular ones:
Arusha National Park
Go on a guided bike tour inside Arusha National Park, where you might get to see different animals such as giraffes, monkeys, buffaloes, zebras, and various bird species. During your ride, you will be accompanied by an armed ranger and a support vehicle to ensure safety.
Arusha National Park covers 137 sq km and has three significant features, namely Mount Meru (4566m), Ngurdoto Crater, and alkaline Momela Lakes.
Total distance: 21 km (7 hours)
This tour will take you on tarmac road to Arusha Declaration Museum, Arusha Declaration Monument, the city bus terminal, Arusha Central Market, and the Maasai Market where you can find handicraft and artwork including batik, traditional clothes, and sculptures.
The tour will end at Arusha clock tower, which marks the exact midpoint between Cairo and Cape Town, as well as the center of Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania.
How to Book a Tour with Namic Bike Adventures
Bookings can be made via:
Phone: +255 684 735 774
Website: Namic Bike Adventures
Facebook Page: Namic Bike Adventures
What to Expect from Namic Bike Adventures
On the day of the tour, Carissa took out the bikes and let me try them. Well, let me tell you one thing: mountain bikes are nothing like regular bikes.
First of all, they’re bigger. My feet barely touched the ground. Secondly, they have those horizontal bars in their frames. And lastly, they have all those gears. I was so used to simple city bikes, whereby the only things I needed to know were how to pedal and how to brake.
Namic Bike Adventures uses only Trec bikes. I knew nothing about mountain bikes, but apparently Trec is the best and most expensive brand out there. They have wider handlebars, which means your arms don’t get tired so easily.
We cycled on the dirt roads near her house, through banana plantations, and on a field where I could practice my rusty cycling skills.
Unfortunately, after about half an hour, we both decided that I wasn’t ready to tackle the real track to Lake Duluti. So, we hiked the rest of the way. On our journey to the lake, we passed by a village, saw how the people there lived, interacted with the kids, and tried some local snacks.
We walked around the lake and then rented a canoe. The lake was so calm with only the sound of birds.
But it started pouring right when we were in the middle of it, forcing us to find shelter under some trees. There were also a group of local boys stuck in the rain. By the time the rain stopped, we were all soaked.
Final Thoughts on Mountain Biking in Arusha, Tanzania
Would I recommend the experience?
Yes, definitely. Although I didn’t actually get to cycle all the way to Lake Duluti, it was still a memorable experience cycling and walking in a Tanzanian countryside. The route to the lake itself is worth exploring if only to see the local lifestyle.
Carissa is a great guide. Don’t let her size fool you. She is very strong and capable. She truly cared about my safety and comfort that she made sure I was confident enough on the bike before she’d let me cycle any further. When it turned out that I wasn’t, she didn’t even charge me for the half hour that I spent using the bike.
More than anything, I enjoyed her company during my little tour of Lake Duluti. She even helped me negotiate the price for the canoe rental. If you’re in the area and would like to support local business, make sure to give her a call.
Where to Stay in Arusha, Tanzania
Banana Farm Eco Hostel – Located 10 km from Arusha Central Market, 11 km from Uhuru monument, and 12 km from Njiro Complex, the accommodation offers a shared lounge and kitchen, free private parking, free WiFi, a garden, and a terrace. From TZS 23.1k (USD 10) for a Single Room with private bathroom and breakfast.
Savannah House – Featuring a restaurant, free parking, free bikes, free WiFi, a bar, and a terrace, this hostel also offers a paid airport shuttle service. Located 6 km from Njiro Complex and Arusha Central Market. Each room includes a desk and a private bathroom. From TZS 22k (USD 9.50) for a Family Room with an extra-large double bed and a bunk bed.
Utamaduni House – Only 1.7 km from Njiro Complex and 7 km from Old German Boma, this bed & breakfast provides a bar, a shared lounge, a garden, and barbecue facilities. WiFi and parking available free of charge. From TZS 81k (USD 35) for a Double Room with garden view, including breakfast.
Gran Melia Arusha – Part of the Gran Melia chain, this 5-star hotel features a restaurant, a bar, a swimming pool, a fitness center, and a sauna. Arusha Central Market and Uhuru Monument are only 3.1 km away. Rates start from TZS 585k (USD 252) for a Deluxe Double Room with city view, inclusive of breakfast.
Have you been to Arusha before? Did you try mountain biking or canoeing on Lake Duluti? Share your experience in the comment section below.
Omg, thank you so much Ummi for taking your precious time and write this, this is so great I truly appreciate, I’m so happy that you enjoyed your time here despite the weather and everything, we are missing you in Arusha and can’t wait to have you here again, I enjoyed your time here and thank you for trusting me.
Enjoy your travels.
You more than deserved it, Carissa! If I do come back to Tanzania, I would definitely visit Arusha again. 😀
Ummi…what a nice scenery..i love travel and now since MCO my hobies turns to Hiking…how i wish i can travel like this one fine day ..
Yes, Suria. You can see some pretty nice scenery here in Arusha. I hope you’ll get to visit it too someday, and if you do, don’t forget to try out the activities mentioned here. It’s great that you’ve taken up hiking. That’s a very beneficial hobby. 👍🏽
this is my first time heard about Arusha! Love the beauty of Materuni Waterfalls and Lake Duluti and yes, Carissa looks friendly, lovely and great as tour guide. Wish I could visit Arusha too
Yes, Farhana. Arusha is still relatively unknown. When people think of Tanzania, they’d usually only think of Serengeti, Mount Kilimanjaro, and Zanzibar. But there are actually a lot more interesting places in Tanzania. Arusha alone has so much to offer. If you ever go there, do consider booking a tour with Carissa. Indeed, she’s a great tour guide.
OMG! Ummi you travel a lot than I thought! Glad to read your blogs as there’s a lot of fun and interesting places to explore especially the hidden gems! we should have a coffee talking about travel!
Thank you, Khai! Glad you enjoyed my blog. 😊 Do check out the other places I’ve been for more travel stories (there are 49 countries in total).
I’m a little shy in person though 🙈
Naik bike tu nampak mencabar betul sambil tu boleh tengok view cantik kan. Seronoknya dapat travel tempat best macam ni
Ya, Airah. Sangat mencabar bagi saya sebab saya bukan jenis yang adventurous sangat. Naik basikal biasa pun tak berapa nak pas. 😄 Tapi saya memang suka pergi ke kawasan-kawasan perkampungan macam ni. Dekat dengan alam semulajadi.
Woww cycling while enjoy the nature it so interesting 🤗 there is so many thing can do in Arusha, i would love to the National Park…….
Ya, most people only associate Tanzania with safaris and Mount Kilimanjaro. But there are actually a lot of other places to explore. Like Arusha, for example – just a small town but plenty to offer. 🙂
OMG! I love to read your blog! They are so adventurous! Keep it up !
Thank you so much for your support, Jenny! Happy that you like my content. Do check out my other posts as well. I will continue producing more quality posts for your reading pleasure 😘
Cantiknya lake Duluti tu. Hurmm bila la nak abes covid ni, dah tepu rasa duduk rumah tak boleh travel
Ya, Lake Duluti ni memang cantik, tapi masa saya pergi tu cuaca kurang elok, tu yang nampak kelabu je tu. Hahaha. Saya pun dah tepu dah ni duk rumah, tapi at least PKPB dah tamat di sesetengah tempat. Dah boleh dah nak rentas negeri. 😊
Cantik sugguh pemandangan. kalau lah ada peluang boleh travel macam awak, mesti saya jadi orang yang paling happy,
Memang cantik pemandangan di Arusha ni, Qbal. Semoga awak pun berpeluang untuk ke sana nanti 🙂
I want mountain biking at Malaysia pun tak past hehehehe but nice place and the flora and fauna very fresh and nice view I love hope one day can go there…
Hahaha, i pun tak pernah lagi mountain biking kat Malaysia, Maha. Ni lah kali pertama naik basikal macam ni. Tapi betul la, Arusha ni memang cantik dan hijau. Banyak aktiviti outdoor boleh buat kat sini, untuk semua tahap kecergasan.
Couchsurfing, how does this work ya? Maybe next time I can try this on my next trip, heard about this before but never try it before.. And such a nice way to explore the nature with the mountain bike, really can enjoy the view and mother’s nature.
Hi, Kitkat! I made a video about Couchsurfing on my YouTube channel. Here’s the link: https://youtu.be/maVWZ3VPQ8k
I will also write a blog post about it soon. So, stay tuned, ya. 🙂
Arusha, Tanzania is indeed a great place to explore nature, be it on foot or on a mountain bike.
Ummi you are brilliant! i never have the courage to try couchsurfing. all your pictures are gorgeous. and i really miss traveling
Oh thank you so much, Viola! I was a little apprehensive as well when I tried it the first time. But I have now done it over 100 times and I would say 90% of the experiences were amazing. I really miss traveling too. Let’s hope all of this will be over soon.
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Thanks for the information!!
You’re welcome, Mcelhen!