Mountain rainforests, Rich savannahs, Alpine moorlands, And majestic Mt. Meru. You can soak up all these scenic landscapes in a single day at Arusha National Park, one of Tanzania’s most beautiful and varied parks.
Though often overlooked, this small park presents a variety of experiences for curious visitors. Home to the world’s largest population of giraffes, this versatile reserve presents numerous hiking and exploring possibilities.
Ever go on a canoe safari? The seven Momella lakes in the park, all a different shade of algae green or blue, offer opportunities to sail and explore. From your floating perch you can spot flamingoes and further out on the shore, giraffe, zebra, dik-dik and warthog.
With its easy vibe, lush green hills and woodlands, the park lends itself to walking safaris. You’ll find great stretches of forest hosting blue and colobus monkeys. And several trails will bring you to Mt. Meru, the second highest summit in Tanzania, the fourth highest in Africa.
It appears as a perfect volcanic cone and it is, indeed, an active volcano, but you can take a vigorous hike up Mt. Meru 4566m (14,980ft). You’ll pass through various eco-systems and habitats on the way up and may spot giraffe, elephant and antelope.
The climb takes several days and can be challenging. At the summit you’ll be rewarded with wonderous views not only of Arusha but also of Mt. Kilimanjaro, just 60 km (37mi) away.
Arusha Park even features a tiny version of the famous Ngorongoro Crater, called the Ngurdoto. The crater is just 3.6 km (2.2mi) in diameter and 100m (328 ft.) deep. But in this lush rainforest environment you’ll find a great variety of wildlife like cape buffalo, elephant, baboon and antelope.
Arusha National Park is just a few kilometers northeast of the town of Arusha, a main hub for safaris in northern Tanzania. The town offers a respite from the road and your various safari adventures. Here, you’ll find an active nightlife, sophisticated global cuisine and even a natural history museum.
Arusha Park is small at only 552 sq. km (213sq. mi), but it presents an array of diverse habitats along with dramatic Mt. Meru.
The park is 51km (31m) from the northern Tanzania city of Arusha.
The park’s mild climate offers average daytime temperatures of 21oC/70oF. It can cool off a bit after sunset and early morning game drives tend to be chilly.
The wildlife watching is best during the dry months of June to October. But bundle up at night as it can get quite cold. Bird lovers may prefer the wet season, March to May, when migrating flocks arrive at the park.
The park is open from 06:00 hrs. to 18:00 hrs.
By road: You can book a tour with Natural World Kenya Safaris from Arusha, about an hour and ½ drive.
By air: The park is 35 km (21mi) from Kilimanjaro International Airport.
Walking Safari – It’s safe to walk the trails in the park, a wonderful way to get closer to the various wildlife. You’ll likely spot giraffe and be on the lookout for buffalo, warthog and birds like the hornbill and eagle.
Canoeing Safari – Paddle along the shores of Momella lake, taking in the verdant hills and the park’s wildlife – both aquatic and terrestrial.
Mt. Meru – Tanzania’s second highest mountain after its famous nearby neighbor, Kilimanjaro. The views are worth the climb and you’ll find yourself walking along a dramatic crater rim at the summit.
Birdwatching – The birdlife here is full offering over 400 species. The shallow alkaline lakes of the park attract flamingoes throughout the year. Also look for buzzards and eagles.
Tululusia Hill – You can hike to and camp out at this popular lookout point, featuring memorable views of the park as well as Mt. Meru, and beyond that, Mt. Kilimanjaro.