Arusha, the safari capital of Tanzania
The small, and bustling, town of Arusha is known as the safari capital of Tanzania; as it is generally the location where most northern Tanzania safaris begin and end.
The streets of this small town are generally crammed to capacity with 4x4 safari vehicles either heading out or returning from safari. In contrast, you'll also see traditional Maasai warriors in their full traditional dress walking around.
There is a great variety of hotels and lodges to suit every pocket, and it is advisable to spend a night in one of these hotels before heading out onto safari (you will be refreshed after your long haul flight, and should any of your baggage gone astray in transit, it will give you time to shop)
Arusha is also a great place to pick up curios at the curio market, and offers a number of other attractions such as the Shanga market (fantastic beadwork and glass blowing, everything here is made by disabled persons). Arusha is also in the centre of the Tanzania coffee belt, so be sure to go on a tour of a working coffee plantation if you are not set to see one later in your safari.
Arusha also borders the Arusha National Park, located just a few kilometres north of Arusha town. This is a small park and offers an introduction to what you can expect in the bigger, more famous reserves (as well as canoeing that you cannot do in other parks). A visit here is likely to yield sightings of buffalo, zebra, the occasional giraffe, and fantastic birdlife. On the forested slopes of Mount Meru, you're likely to spot blue monkeys, and both black and white colobus monkeys.