The best things to do in Moshi are a matter of opinion of course. However, after spending 3 weeks here living with a local family, I feel qualified to give some recommendations.
Moshi, or Moshi Town to the locals, is a city with somewhere north of 200,000 inhabitants on the south side of Kilimanjaro. The Moshi-Arusha road runs through the city, dividing the posh Shanty Town neighborhood on the north side from the city and other neighborhoods on the south side. The center is filled with frenetic commerce ranging from outdoor fruit and vegetable markets to restaurants and bars, to retail stores selling their wares.
There are really only two prominent coffee houses that cater to tourists. The first and the best known is the Coffee Union Cafe. Internet costs 1,000 TSH per hour, which is reasonable. However, I found the Internet slow and the food and drink prices exorbitant. My favorite is the One Bike Pitstop Cafe, which has decent and free Wifi, excellent food and coffee drinks, and is priced very reasonably.
Although Hindus are a minority here, they tend to excel at business enterprises and have significant influence on the food in the region. You can expect prices to range from 12,000 TSH to 25,000 TSH per dish depending on the restaurant. Although local food can be found for around 3,000 TSH per dish, Indian food is upscale and excellent here making it a great choice if you have the budget. El Rancho Kilimanjaro (yes, an Indian restaurant with a Spanish name) is located in Shanty Town and is probably the highest priced and most exclusive of the lot. Other good choices at slightly lower prices are the Indoitaliano Restaurant, Peppers Restaurant and Sports Bar, and an excellent vegetarian choice, Milan’s Restaurant.
Cycling Day Tours
The Materuni Waterfall and Coffee Tour. Contact One Bike to arrange this tour, as well as the absolute must see Chemka Hot Springs Tour! Hillary Matemu, of Chagga descent, will be the perfect guide to bring you out to Materuni, still an authentic Chagga Village, where you will swim and see the falls, take a coffee tour, and learn heaps about Chagga culture. The round trip is only about 30km, mostly uphill there and blissfully downhill all the way back to Moshi.
The Chemka Hot Springs Tour is a day tour with a more challenging 60km round trip. There are no hills, but some of the going is bumpy and rough. You will ride through the immense sugar cane fields, through tiny villages, around Masaai herding their cattle, sheep, and goats, arriving at spring (warm, not hot) with vibrant colors.
A word of caution: get there early to enjoy it alone! Especially on the weekend, after noon or so it turns into a bit of a party. Both a quiet morning surrounded by Vervet Monkeys, soaking in the springs, as well as a raucous afternoon of drinking beer and swinging into the springs is all part of the experience. For those of you interested in a free pedicure, the tiny fish in the spring will delightfully tickle you while removing dead skin.
Go for a swim in the city!
These are both located within a stone’s throw of each other in the tree lined area of Shanty Town. Kiliwonders Hotel, as it is known, charges 15,000 TSH for a day pass. On the weekends there is a rooftop bar with excellent views of the mountain and the city. The Altezza Lodge charges $15 US per day, although this amount goes towards your bar and restaurant tab.
If you want to swim laps and need your fix, never fear, there is an excellent outdoor 25 meter pool located at the International School, United World School East Africa. If you have taken a tour or rented a bike with One Bike you will be entitled to use the facitilies for a 10,000 TSH daypass or 55,000 TSH for the month.
Nightlife in the City
Although at first glance it may not appear that there would be any clubs or bars in Moshi, but this would be a mistake. The nightlife area is mainly concentrated in Shanty Town. On the weekends many locals and tourists alike will start out at bars such as Amuzz Bar & Grill, Biker’s Bar & Grill, Woodland Centre King’s Lounge, or Moshi Club Golf. Everyone seems to end up at Red Stone around midnight.
Take a Tuk Tuk to the Market
Your visit to Moshi would not be complete without a tuk tuk ride and haggling over fruit and vegetables at the market. As a rule of thumb, a one way ride within Moshi should not cost over 2,000 TSH so it is a wonderfully cheap way to travel. The main market is near the intersection of Chagga and Market Streets. I highly recommend going with a local if you can to ensure you are not price gouged!
Get a Massage
After a cycling tour or climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, it may be high time for a much needed massage. Two reputable outfits to consider are Lala Salama Spa and Kili Spa & Therapy. Lala Salama is based at the YWCA Moshi and an hour massage runs about 50,000 TSH. Kili spa’s hourly rate for a full massage is $40 US.
Choices Outside the City
There are also several trips worth nothing a bit further and extensive than mentioned here. The obvious one is climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro. One can also visit Chala Lake, an amazing and deep crater lake on the border of Tanzania and Kenya. The Enduimet Wildlife Reserve, as well as the traditional Masaai village of Olpopongi are worthy destinations. And if you’re set on a Safari in the Serengeti, there are several Safari companies in town that will be able to arrange this.
Remember to dive into the local culture, whatever you decide to do, and don’t be afraid to learn some Swahili. A little will go a long way! Good Luck!