Dawn’s FAQ of the Week: Are there any opportunities to purchase souvenirs? How much do they cost?

There are many wonderful places to buy souvenirs. You’ll have some opportunities along the way during your safari, such as local crafts and jewelry from the Maasai Village or the various lodge gift shops that often contain some nice hand selected local items. You’ll see some road side shops along the main road as you are driving from The Ngorongoro Crater to Arusha, near the town of Karatu; just ask your guide to help you find a reputable shop. But by far the most popular places to buy local crafts (woodcarvings, masks, artifacts, jewelry, etc.) is at the Kilima Tembo Shop in Karatu or the Cultural Heritage Center in Arusha.

Cultural Heritage is the largest of the two shops, and since it’s located in Arusha it makes a great “final” stop over place to pick up those last minute souvenirs before you depart for home, so that’s the one shop I’ll address in a bit more detail here.  The prices at Cultural Heritage are generally reasonable; probably not as cheap as the items you could find if you spent the day stopping at roadside shops, but the selection is out of this world. It makes a great ‘one stop shop’ place to purchase authentic souvenirs and has a HUGE selection! Sometimes they have local artists doing demonstrations too. You’ll have the opportunity to stop by Cultural Heritage Center on your last day but since you’ll have a few different activities competing for your attention that day, if you want to be sure and get some shopping in on your last day, please let your guide know early in the day that stopping here to get some shopping in is a priority for you!

The costs of souvenirs span a considerable range, you can buy a nice Maasai bracelet for $8-$10, or you may spend $20 or more for a more elaborate one. You can buy small and simple woodcarvings for a few dollars each, or you can spend hundreds of dollars on more elaborate woodcarvings made of ebony wood (a very hard and beautiful indigenous type of wood that is difficult to splinter or break). Usually the more detail, time and skill involved, the higher the price tag. Then of course there is Tanzanite, a very beautiful gemstone that can only be found in Tanzania; the cost is a function of size, color and clarity, and prices can range from hundreds of dollars to thousands of dollars.

Don’t be afraid to negotiate as it’s often expected, and don’t be afraid to shop around a bit before making a final decision.  You may notice a wide variance in pricing from one shop compared to another for what seems like very similar items, so keep that in mind and try to take it in stride if you happen to see an item advertised for a bit less money than what you paid for it at a previous shop; it’s an inherent risk you run every time you buy something locally made like a woodcarving, basket or beaded Maasai jewelry.  Here at ADS we have no control over the advertised prices at the various shops, but we do strive to take you to reputable places with good selections.  If shopping is your goal, hopefully you will end up with a special souvenir to help you remember a very special trip!