Arusha National Park, even though often underappreciated in favor of Serengeti, is one of the most beautiful places in Tanzania, and certainly an ideal destination for any traveler or safari goer. Arusha National Park offers diversity of activities and sights, as well as a notable variety of wildlife, considering its relatively small size. Canoeing, picnics, walking safari, hiking and wildlife viewing are all activities that can be enjoyed by anyone who visits the park. The impressive view of Mount Meru and Kilimanjaro is among the biggest attractions in Arusha National Park.
- +Climbing Mount Meru
- +The rare opportunity to see the black-and-white colobus monkey
- +Seeing the Ngurdoto Crater
- +Natural scenery and wildlife
- +Canoeing on the Momela Lakes
About Arusha National Park
Arusha National Park is the one closest to the safari capital of northern Tanzania – Arusha, but that is far from being the only thing it has to offer. Arusha National Park is a veritable national treasure whose value is underestimated, even though it provides an impressive array of sights, wild animals, habitats, etc. that would delight any safari enthusiast.
One of the main attractions of the park is the unique opportunity to see the black-and-white colobus monkey, as well as warthogs and buffalos, in the Ngurdoto Crater, which features beautiful, steep cliffs. In addition, you can also see trogons, turacos and even blue monkeys, which is a rare treat.
The blue and green Momela Lakes can also be admired here, surrounded by green hills and an abundance of pink flamingos, a sight to behold for anyone who loves the exotic-looking birds. You also get a bonus of zebras and giraffes, as well as dik-dik, so the lakes are definitely an ideal location for spying on wildlife and taking some stunning shots to frame at home.
But by far, the most fascinating sights can be observed at two points in the day – dawn, but also dusk, because it is then when you can have the chance to see the peaks of Mount Kilimanjaro, now cleared of clouds. These are also the moments in which you are most likely to be able to sneak a peek at spotted hyenas and leopards, an absolute highlight of any trip.
Mount Meru is in no way second in beauty to the striking Kilimanjaro. Sitting at almost 15,000 feet (14,990, to be exact), Meru is not only a gorgeous sight to admire, but it also presents a wonderful opportunity for hiking.
Arusha National Park is just 40 minutes away from Arusha, by car. You can either rent one, or get someone to drive you to your preferred destination. In order to arrive in Arusha, the most conveniently-situated airport is Kilimanjaro International Airport, which is about 60 km (approximately 35 miles) away.
Should you wish to visit the Ngurdoto Crater, the forest and the lakes, it will only take about half a day. However, please note that in order to climb, you will require a Mounting Climbing Permit, which takes 12 hours to issue.
When to Go & Weather
- June-February: A good period to see and climb Mount Meru, but be mindful of the fact that November tends to be a rainy month.
- December-February: This is an appropriate period if what you are after are the best views of Kilimanjaro
- June-October: Dry season; August is known to be the driest month
- March-April and November-December: Rainy season; the wettest month is April
The average annual temperature here is 25°C , with the hottest period being January-April 27-28°C. Humidity is not consistent throughout the year and not present in May-September. However, over the rest of the year, you are most likely to experience humidity between 80 and 100, with an average of 95 in most months.
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Arusha was firstly inhabited by Maasai around the year 1830. At that time, there were no buildings and the inhabitants dwelt in seasonal shelters created with interwoven sticks. They were organized keeping count of the importance of the residents. For instance, the head of the tribe would place his shelter in the center of the community, after him, the others would build their shelter by their importance in the tribe. Maasai were cattle and goat herders at first, but they also developed their farming skills, as the region was rather fertile in the proximity of the valleys. The Maasai group also made use of trade, establishing a trade network with other local groups on the land of today’s southern Kenya.
In the year of 1896, the Arusha region was invaded by Germans, as a result of the murder of two missionaries who attempted to convert the population to Christianity. The German occupation encompassed a myriad of negative impacts on the development of the region. Still, as the Germans were ejected in 1916, in 1919, the British began to control the area. While the British occupation was not that harsh, the country was under the reign of another power. In the year of 1961, Tanganyika was established as a state of its own, and the official signing was held in Arusha.
In the present, Arusha has become one of the favorite safari destinations in the region, attracting tourists who wish to experience the marvels of Africa.
Arusha National Park is singled out of the majority of national parks you will stumble across in Tanzania. That would be because it encompasses a myriad of species of wild animals, which are specific for the park. Its character is determined exactly by the mixture of wild animals, accompanied by the breathtaking scenery. What adds to the charm of the park is that it is genuinely a heaven for hiking enthusiasts, given the natural surroundings of the beautiful area.
Don’t expect to encounter the same wildlife diversity as in other national parks of Tanzania. Arusha National Park will be a one-a-kind safari experience. Besides its significantly smaller size, the national park encompasses giraffes, buffalos, zebras, warthogs, the black and white colobus money, flamingos and the blue money – these are only a few of the myriad of species you will get the chance to see. Additionally, you may also catch a glimpse of an African elephant or a leopard, which are rarely seen, but still, it is a possibility. You won’t encounter any lions, though.
The birdlife in the park is abounding, with more than 400 species of birds. Here, you will be able to observe a myriad of species that are not visible in other national parks or regions. Tourists who are highly interested in birds will relish seeing the unique Narina Trogon and bar-tailed trogon. If you’re visiting the national park from November till April, you will also catch a glimpse of a myriad of beautiful migratory species.
Exploring the National Park will surely count as a unique experience – it will be like entering a new, surreal realm, which encompasses a wide range of animal species and birds.
Get ready to be astounded by the amazing beauty of the national park’s flora. Despite the fact that the area surrounding the park is generally dry, the park is green throughout the entire period of the year. The park encompasses three distinct natural habitats that include waterfalls and lakes, swamps and waterholes, high cliffs. All these habitats will allow you to grasp the real meaning and spirit of Africa, providing different types of vegetations.
Regarding the issue of conservation of this unique National Park, and the diversity of wildlife and fauna that it offers, there are projects initiated that are meant to raise awareness concerning the significant importance of conserving the National Park buffer zones, which are in the proximity of houses. Moreover, these projects and laws are meant to protect the animals and prevent unnecessary killing of the animals or hunting from happening. The community must be a part of the plan of conservation of this National Park, as well as the tourists who come on a regular basis. It is our mission to protect the animals that find their homes in this region.
- The name of the park was given by a group of people named “Warusha”, who used to live in this particular area.
- TMountain Meru is the second highest peak next to Kilimanjaro. Hiking the mountain is genuinely a unique experience you shouldn’t miss out on. If you decide to go for it, the view from the top is utterly breathtaking – you will be able to spot amazing views of dense woodlands and pristine lakes. If you arrive there at dusk or in the morning, you will actually be able to catch a glimpse of famous mountain Kilimanjaro.