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Craft Shopping -- Nairobi vs Arusha?

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Jan 4th, 2011, 06:45 PM
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Craft Shopping -- Nairobi vs Arusha?

We will be going to Tanzania, Kenya and Rwanda next July, arriving in Arusha and departing from Nairobi. I have read that the craft shopping is particularly good in Arusha. Can anyone tell me how it compares with Nairobi? Obviously it would make things easier if we waited to buy at the end of our trip, but I'll kick myself if I see things I wanted but didn't buy early on and then couldn't find them when we got to Nairobi. Any shops or markets that are particularly good in either place? Also, are South African crafts (i.e. beaded animals, zulu baskets, etc) available in Arusha or Nairobi? Thanks very much.
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Jan 4th, 2011, 08:36 PM
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Did not do a lot of shopping in either place,although I spent time browsing around in both places.

I think you will find everything you will want at the Arusha Heritage and Culture Centre.

It is quiet the place to visit, shop, browse and/or buy !
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Jan 4th, 2011, 09:03 PM
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We left Arusha for Tarangire, and about 20 minutes out we pulled into this very big souvenir place on the left hand side. They had thousands and thousands of different type carving from all over Tanzania, but because we had just arrived and had no idea about prices, we walked out empty handed. We did try to bargain, but they weren't bargaining very much, and their prices seemed high. However, nowhere else in either Tanzania or Kenya did we see any carvings worth buying at any price. The place outside of Arusha was the best one we came across.

The other issue for us was how were we going to carry it with us on our flying safari? But, I am sure they ship.

From my own experience, I'd say go there on your way out of town, or to the Arusha Heritage and Culture Centre, which I think is in town, and get what you love and have it shipped.
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Jan 5th, 2011, 08:02 AM
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Before purchasing anything, first get an idea of what's on offer and prices. You many pay the same way twice so if not bought first time out can on return. However, if along the way you see something you absolutely must have - buy it! And if you see it later at a lower price, don't fret.

Both countries have plenty of places to purchase souvenirs, certainly in/around Arusha and certainly in Nairobi... so just go with the flow. And, be careful with that 6/ft giraffe that tempts you!
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Jan 5th, 2011, 10:19 AM
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Sandy:

Haha, yea, that Giraffe is like USD $15k or something at that Arusha-outskirts place.

OP, remember these words :

"Kiasi Gani bei?" (How much price)

"Kwamba ni Mengi !!" ( That is a lot!)

"Kuja chini katika bei !" (Come down in price)
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Jan 5th, 2011, 10:45 AM
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... meant to type "if you pass on way out to safari, may also on return!"

I still, regardless destination anywhere in the world, spend first few days determining what's available/prices before I make any purchases. If I miss something, so be it... but this has worked for me.

TP - My "twiga" is 18" and I love it. Received as a gift and it fit perfectly in my bag packed between my cloths. But have seen more than my share of those with twiga from 3' to 6' (and taller) being packed in newspaper and bubblewrap w/tape to be sent as a checked item and hopefully arriving at destination in one piece.
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Jan 5th, 2011, 06:13 PM
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The best shopping experience we had during our five-week self-drive through Kenya and Tanzania was at the Masai market in Arusha - great prices and excellent selection, including some very nice Tinga Tinga paintings. Robin
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Jan 5th, 2011, 10:28 PM
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Ok ok so maybe the 6 footer might be a bit much but geez a 3 footer could easily work now couldn't it??? How much are they over there anyway??
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Jan 6th, 2011, 04:38 AM
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We perhaps didn't make it to the right places in Arusha, but it seemed to me that there were many smaller and medium places rather than any single place with a really wide range of goods. That wasn't so easy for us.

Personally, I preferred Nairobi, particularly the Utamaduni crafts centre in Blixen, which also has a lovely lunch restaurant on site.

Prices are fixed, and yes higher than the lowest you'll find if you go direct to the artisans, but quality is good, there is no sales pressure and you can pay by cash or credit card.
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Jan 6th, 2011, 09:35 AM
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KathBC - have no idea price on even the 3' giraffe, so you'll have to check around. And, then if you do buy, you'll be one of those I regularly see departing Kenya or Tanzania.

In Nairobi, Utamaduni is good, but at Kavey mentions, prices are fix, but quality is excellent. Another wonderful place in Nairobi and close to Utamaduni is Kazuri Beads with unique and beautiful pieces you won't find elsewhere. While Kazuri Beads are sold by some in the States and maybe in Europe, very few choices and prices twice or triple that if purchased in Kenya. Kazuri also has branches other than their main production space in Karen.

For a wide array of items, at all prices, in Nairobi on the lower/street level at Hilton Hotel is (goodness my mind just went blank and can't recall the name ... will try to find and post, unless anyone else remembers it!) Great for small inexpensive items (well made) - wood, stone, fabric/batiks, beaded, paintings, etc.; also some interesting jewelry pieces in the back room; they accept cash and credit cards.

And, of course, the various markets/malls have individual shops with specialty items to meet all budgets.
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Jan 6th, 2011, 09:45 AM
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I reckon kazuri beads would be excellent visit on a day the ladies are working as you can see...

But for me, I didn't like any of the beads on offer at all. Just a taste thing...

x
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Jan 6th, 2011, 10:14 AM
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Collector's Den!
That's the name... had to check my diary and there it was including their business card!
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Jan 6th, 2011, 10:24 AM
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Kazuri has such a wide array of items it can be darn scary and confusing when first entering; where to look first? On my first visit I didn't buy anything, but having seen what they had to offer on a return visit and at one of their branch stores, was able to select a few items for gifts; on another visit actually purchased for myself.

Yes, it can be a matter of taste and what, if for ourselves we know we like and will look just right. But the items are so unique and colorful it's a shame to miss out. If jewelry items don't do it for you, they also have pottery - dishes, bowls, pitchers, etc. for purchase.

Personally, I found the smaller bead items suited my taste and managed gifts for friends/family and self of bracelets, bracelets w/matching earrings (single bead), dainty necklaces.

And, even if you don't purchase and at main shop in Karen, it's a delight to go into the factory, meet the women who will gladly tell you what they each do in the process from clay, baking, painting, glacing and then making the actual items.
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Jan 6th, 2011, 10:26 AM
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Hi, I can't comment on Nairobi but the Masai craft market was good albeit there's a lot of hassling (and haggling). We also stoped at Shanga beads (they do other stuff too). There's a cafe there too (we just had a coffee but I think they serve food too).
http://www.shanga.org/Welcome.html
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Jan 6th, 2011, 10:26 AM
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Should have said the Masai Craft market and Shanga are
in Arusha
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Jan 6th, 2011, 01:50 PM
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Sandi, sadly we were in town the day Kazuri wasn't open, so we didn't get to meet and watch the women at work. I'm sure I would have loved that and will try to do that next time...

We did have a lovely coffee break there and I did buy a couple of ceramic items, more to support the project than because I liked them, I must admit!
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Jan 6th, 2011, 08:42 PM
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"And, then if you do buy, you'll be one of those I regularly see departing Kenya or Tanzania."

Ok sandi will try my best!! hahaha! Seriously I have a spot next to my sofa that is just crying for a 3' giraffe!

Have heard good things about the Collectors Den so it's on my list.

Still looking for Diana Carmichael pewter in Nairobi. Her site says Maya Duty Free @ JMO. Has anyone been?
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Jan 7th, 2011, 07:58 AM
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Maya Duty Free is at the NBO/JKIA airport, but can't comment on Diana Carmichael items. No idea!
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Jan 8th, 2011, 11:16 AM
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Could anyone recommend somewhere to stop in Arusha to buy several kgs of dried beans/ peas etc to fill photography bean bags ie a market.

It'll be a Wednesday morning we set off if that has any bearing on market days

Many thanks
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Jan 8th, 2011, 04:39 PM
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Radarjet,

You safari provider can easily buy beans for you, in advance. You can pay them once you are there. They should be able to even provide you with their own bean bags at no extra charge. Just transfer their beans to your bag.

If you end up buying, they are cheap (remember to carry local cash, in this case). Donate them before you depart. Arusha is crowded and traffic gets worse as the day goes on...why stop when you can breeze through it ?
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