Arusha National Park
Arusha national park is one of the smallest but most visited national park in northeastern part of Tanzania due to breathtaking landscapes like the alkaline Momella lakes in the north east, Montane forests, Ngurdoto crater in the south east and rugged Mount Meru in the west. Mount Meru is the fifth highest mountain in Africa standing at an elevation of 4566 meters above the sea level. the national park was established in 1960, covers a total area of 552 square kilometers and harbors incredible wildlife species that cannot be viewed in other national parks in the northern circuit including vegetation types like the lush rainforest, savannah, alpine vegetation, animals like buffaloes, bushbucks, warthogs, zebras, red duikers, elephants, giraffes, leopards, hippos, primates like black and white colobus monkeys, vervet monkeys, blue monkeys, bird species like grey crowned crane, flamingos, African fish eagle, hartlaubs turaco, secretary birds among others.
Attractions in Arusha national park
- Wildlife, Arusha national park is one of the best protected areas in Tanzania for wildlife viewing in that it harbors abundant animals like giraffes, waterbucks, bushbucks, cape buffaloes, elephants, red duikers, hippos, leopards, hyenas zebras, primates like black and white colobus monkeys, blue monkeys over 400 bird species like bar tailed trogon, migratory birds like flamingos among others which will be viewed during the game drive and guided nature walk.
- Mount Meru, Mount Meru is the fifth highest mountain in Africa and the second in Tanzania after Mount Kilimanjaro, the mountain stands at a height of 4566 meters. Hiking Mount Meru is tiring but adventurous and offers you spectacular views of Mt Kilimanjaro, animals like giraffes, elephants, buffaloes among others.
- Ngurdoto crater, this is a swampy crater in the park and one of the best areas for a stopover during the game drive. The Ngurdoto crater is known for harbors various animals including buffaloes, elephants, warthogs, primates like black and white colobus monkeys among others.
- Momella lakes, the Momella lakes are a series of seven shallow lakes including big and small Momella, Tulusia, Rishateni, El Kekhotoito, Kusare and Lekandiro lakes, these lakes are located in the northeastern part of the park and they are known as alkaline or salt lakes. Momella lakes offer canoeing safaris where you will be able to view bird species like flamingos, sacred ibis, white breasted cormorant, maccoas ducks, white browned coucal, grey headed kingfisher, helmeted guinea fowl, animals like bushbucks, hippos, buffaloes,
- Lake Longil, this is a freshwater lake in the park where variety of animals gather to drink water and some aquatic bird species therefore it acts as a stopover point during the game drive.
Top things to do in Arusha national park
Game drive, game drive is one of the most done activities in Arusha national park. during the game drive you will follow different tracks in the open savannah grasslands such as the Serengeti Ndogo where you will be able to spot animals like Dik Dik, zebras, reedbucks, giraffes, bush pigs, red duikers, waterbucks, primates like black and white colobus monkeys, blue monkeys which will be viewed near Ngurdoto museum and if you are lucky you will spot predators like leopards, hyenas, wild cats among others. The roads in the park will lead you to Momella lakes and Ngurdoto crater where you will have spectacular views of different animals like hippos in water and others that gather along the shores to drink water. The game drive takes about 4 hours and its one of the interesting activities that shouldn’t be missed on your safari in the park.
Guided nature walk, this is an adventurous activity that allows you to explore the park on foot. Arusha national park has fewer dangerous animals hence one of the best destinations for a guided nature walk. During the interesting nature walk you will follow trails which pass below Mount Meru, Ngurdoto crater, Kitoto to Njeku viewpoint, Momella gate to Ikikoni, Tululusia waterfall and Ujambo wa mbogo area. Nature walks in Arusha national park are carried out with the help of an experienced and armed park ranger as you pass through marsh bushes and streams where you will view beautiful scenery, landscapes, walk meters away from animals like giraffes, warthogs, buffaloes, zebras, listen to sweet sounds of bird speicies, breath fresh air, relax your mind, feel the cool breeze among others.
Bird watching, Arusha national park is a home of over 400 bird species including endemic and near endemic species which makes it one of the best birding destinations in Tanzania. Birding in the park is best carried out on the alkaline Momella lakes and forests where birders will have incredible views of different bird species such as verreauxs eagle, augur buzzard, greater flamingos, little grebes, spur winged goose, secretary birds, African fish eagle, bar tailed trogon, black saw wing, bearded vulture, hartlaubs turaco, red fronted parrot, tawny eagle, narina trogon, Egyptian goose, African olive pigeon among others. During birding you will also be able to view some birds flying above Ngurdoto crater.
Mountain climbing, Mount Meru is the second highest mountain in Tanzania after Kilimanjaro, fifth highest in Africa standing at an elevation of 4566meters above the sea level which makes hiking the mountain an interesting and adventurous activity in Arusha national park. Mount Meru was once much higher but exploded outwards more than five hundred thousand years ago leaving a giant horse shoe shaped crater wall of steep cliffs and inside the crater minor Volcani eruptions have occurred creating a subsidiary peak called ash cone which offers great scenic views. Hiking the mountain takes about three to four days to reach on the summit and some visitors say it’s more challenging and beautiful than Mount Kilimanjaro. During hiking you will pass through lower slopes, Ngarenanyuki river, waterfalls and have spectacular views of ancient fig tree forests, clear waters from the mountain streams, waterfalls, Momella lakes which are found close to the mountain foot, walk through habitats of different animals like zebras, buffaloes, cheetahs, leopards, bird species, primates like black and white colobus monkeys, short furred sykes monkeys, see farmlands and the Maasai herdsmen who graze their cattle on the lower slopes, fertile soils among others. While climbing the mountain you will have a sleepover at Miriakamba hut and when you reach the summit, you will have incredible views of Mount Kilimanjaro, ash tray and Mount Meru crater.
Canoeing, Arusha national park is one of the protected areas in Tanzania that offers the breathtaking canoe ride. Canoeing in the park is done on the small Momella Lake with the help of a well trained guide who will be paddling along the lake. During the canoe ride you will enjoy a peaceful and quiet ride and you will be able to spot different animals like hippos in water, bushbucks, waterbucks, giraffes, buffaloes, zebras among others on the lake shores, water birds like flamingos, pelicans, herons, fish eagles, take great pictures among others.
Best time to visit Arusha national park
The national park can be visited throughout the year but the best time is during the dry season in the months of June to October because during this period the roads are passable, vegetation will be thinner and animals will gather around the water bodies to drink water which gives you an opportunity to clearly spot various wildlife species, enjoy great views of Mount Kilimanjaro and also the best time to climb Mount Meru because hiking trails will be passable
Where to stay on your safari in Arusha national park
Arusha national park has a number of accommodation facilities where you can stay during the safari, accommodation facilities range from luxury, midrange and budget. The lodges in the park include Ngurdoto Mountain Lodge, Africa Tulip Lodge, Arusha Serena Hotel, Ngare Sero Mountain Lodge, Momella Wildlife Lodge, Hatari Lodge, Mount Meru Game Lodge, Itikoni Seasonal Camp, Lake Duluti Lodge, River Trees Country Inn among others.
How to get to Arusha national park
Arusha national park is one of the most visited protected areas located in northeastern part of Tanzania. Arusha national park can be reached by road in that from Kilimanjaro international airport it takes about one hour drive to reach the park in a safari vehicle and about 40 minutes drive from Arusha town. The national park can also be accessed by public means of transport where buses travel daily from Arusha and Ngare Nanyuki village to Ngongongare gate. You can also hire a taxi from Arusha to the park.
Arusha national park is a must visit destination in Tanzania for visitors who want to have spectacular views of the landscapes, animals, bird species, engage in hiking Mount Meru which is the second highest mountain in Tanzania, canoeing on Lake Momella among others. For more information about Arusha national park you can contact Focus East Africa Tours.