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Arusha National Park

Located between the famous snow capped peaks of Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Meru the park is famous for its resident population of animated black and white colobus monkey and huge flocks of flamingo.

Fast Facts

Major Attractions
  • Momella Lakes
  • Ngurdoto Crater
  • Meru Crater and cone
  • Stunning pristine forests and cascading waterfalls
  • 40+ species of mammals present in the park including  black and white colobus, elephant, buffalo, giraffe, zebra, warthog,leopards, duiker, flamingos.
Activities
  • Walking safaris
  • Game drive
  • Canoeing
  • Trekking safari
  • Cultural village tour - visit to Mkuru village to see the Maasai
Size
  • 542 sq km(205.96 sq miles)
Location
  • Arusha National Park is located 25km from Arusha Town and 35 km’s from Kilimanjaro International Airport and lies on the eastern edge of the Great Rift Valley. Arusha National Park forms part of the northern circuit of Tanzania.

ABOUT

Arusha National Park is located between the famous snow capped peaks of Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Meru.  It is a small park that offers a varied landscape that is nothing short of spectacular and amongst the most breathtakingly picturesque in all of Africa.

A visitor to Arusha National Park can expect to experience a diverse terrain that falls into 3 distinct habitats.  The Meru Crater with its forests and bare rock outcrops lies on the western rim of the park, while the north-east is known for its characteristically alkaline Momella Lakes and the wading birds they attract. Lastly, the Ngurdoto Crater in the south-east provides lush grasslands in contrast with its swampy crater floor.

The road up to the Meru Crater and Ash Cone meanders through beautiful scenery and sparkling waterfalls before arriving at the base of the cone. The scenery is spectacular as the road passes through virgin forest containing gigantic trees and many open glades where animals are frequently seen such as elephant, buffalo, bushbuck, red forest duiker and colobus monkey.

If trekking the mountain you will experience the multi coloured mosaic of wildflowers that speckle the upper regions of the mountain before ascending to the alpine like tundra of Mount Meru’s summit. Mount Meru is the 2nd highest mountain in Tanzania and the 5th highest in Africa(14,990ft). Upon reaching the summit you will be richly rewarded with unparalleled views of the majestic Mount Kilimanjaro and the Rift Valley.

Mkuru village is located on the northern part of Mount Meru. This area is dominated by the Maasai people and the Wa-Arusha. Mkuru is a unique village which still conserves the traditional Maasai traditions. Visitors have the extraordinary opportunity to meet the Maasai people and visit their Boma.

WILDLIFE 

Arusha National Park boasts a diverse resident population of wildlife including the black and white colobus monkey, baboon, elephants, giraffe, buffalo, hippo, leopard, hyena, waterbuck, wart hogs and over 400 species of birdlife. There are no lions in the park but you may be lucky enough to spot some leopard. Elephants are not so easily spotted however there is a good chance you may come across the visually striking black and white colobus monkey.

For the bird enthusiast, the Momela Lakes offers plenty of birdwatching opportunities. The rocky outcrops of Mount Meru are a haven to birds of prey and you may be lucky enough to spot Iammergeyers, a large, rare bird of prey. The migratory flux of birds is prevalent between October and April. A large proportion of the birds are resident, being found year round in the forests of the Arusha National Park. Birds commonly seen are waterfowls, huge flocks of flamingo at Momella Lakes, and if you are lucky you may see taita falcons and marsh harrier.

GEOGRAPHY

Situated on the eastern edge of the Great Rift Valley, which is part of a fault in the earth’s crust which stretches 8000km’s from Turkey to the mouth of the Zambezi River in Mozambique. The Great Rift Valley was formed over 20 million years ago. Within the machinations of its creation a small subsidiary vent opened at the eastern foot of the Mount Meru and Ngurdoto was born.

The crater wall of Mount Meru was ruptured by a series of explosions 250,000 years ago. The eastern wall of the crater was blown away, sending lava, mud, rocks and water cascading across the Sanya Plains almost as far as the town of Moshi in the foothills of Kilimanjaro. Mount Meru is an extinct volcano with it’s last explosion occurring in 1877.

Ngurdoto Crater(which is also an extinct former volcano) and Meru are among the few places on earth where you can appreciate the beauty and tranquility of the montane forests. The wide marshy floor of this caldera is dotted by herds of buffalo and warthog.

CLIMATE

Ranges from 1524m above sea level at Momela to over 4565m at the summit of Meru. The average annual rainfall is 600mm.

There are two rain seasons throughout the country: the long season from April  through May, the short rain season falls during December and January. The coolest months are from June to October, and the warmest are November, December to March. On the highest parts of Mount Meru, temperatures are lower and frost occurs at night during the cold season.

WHEN TO VISIT

Generally, the best time to visit Arusha National Park is between the months of October through to February.

The best time to climb Mount Meru is between June and February while the best views of Kilimanjaro are between December and February.

Wildlife photographic opportunities abound in the dry season (July-October and late December).

Accommodation at Arusha National Park

Hatari Lodge1

Hatari Lodge

Hatari Lodge is a boutique lodge located on the edge of Arusha National Park, close to the setting of the legendary movie ‘Hatari!’ and overlooking the famous Mt Kilimanjaro and it neighbouring dormant volcano, Mt Meru.

Momella Wildlife Lodge1

Momella Wildlife Lodge

The lodge served as a temporary home for John Wayne and Hardy Krueger while filming the famous ‘Hatari’ in 1960.

Ngurdoto Mountain Lodge, Arusha, Tanzania Safari, SafariHQ

The Ngurdoto Mountain Lodge

After an exciting day on safari, you can relax in the natural rock swimming pool, or enjoy a tall, cool drink on the lodge veranda as you take in the glowing brilliance of the African sunset.

Optional Activities in Arusha National Park