Arusha National Park
Arusha national park is an iconic wilderness destination and a great Tanzania wildlife destination situated in north-eastern Tanzania lieing in the northern Tanzania safari circuit and close to Arusha town next to the Kenyan border. From Arusha Town, Arusha national park is in a distance of 35 kilometers drive, 58 kilometers from Moshi and 35 kilometers from Kilimanjaro International Airport.
Arusha national park covers an area of 552 square kilometers encompassing of Mount Meru the second highest mountain in Tanzania at 4,566 meters and Ngurdoto crater which are the highlight tourist attractions in the park. Arusha national park is one of the best destinations for Tanzania Mountain climbing safari and game viewing, the park comprises of a diverse range of landscapes in 3 distinct areas that is
- In west region of the park, there are Meru crater which funnels the Jekukunia river and the peak of Mount Meru of its rim
- In the south- East region of the park, there is Ngurdoto crater with grasslands
- In the North-East, there lies a beautiful shallow alkaline Momella lakes consisting of varying algal colors.
Arusha national park established in 1960 is the second oldest protected area in Tanzania together with Lake Manyara national park, the park is history runs back to 1876 following the visit a Hungarian Count Teleki to Momella lakes. On his visit Count Teleki commented on the vast number of hippopotamus and black rhinos residing in the area (though they are no longer present in the park), in 1907 the Trappe family moved to Momella with the intentions of farming thus using the large areas of the present Arusha national park as a cattle ranch. Mrs Trappe the eldest of the Trappe family became the first woman to be a profession hunter in East Africa and she voluntarily set aside a larger part of the Momella estate as a game reserve.
Following the establishment of the park in 1960, the farm was incorporated into the park and Ngurdoto crater national park was established. Mount Meru was also incorporated into the park in 1967, the name of the park was then changed from Ngurdoto crater national park to Arusha national park in honor of the local Warusha people who used to live in the area.
Arusha national park is rich with a variety of wildlife and bird species, animals found in the park include large mammals and small mammals such as elephants, buffaloes, zebras, hippos, leopards, olive baboons, blue monkeys, vervet monkeys among others. Birds in Arusha national park are recorded to be over 400 bird species which include Greater Pink Flamingo, Lesser Pink Flamingo, Silver Cheeks Hornbill, White-necked raven, African Fish Eagle, Augur Buzzard, Bar-tailed Trogon, Mangbettu Sawwing, Southern Carmine Bee-eater, Egyptian Goose, Spur-winged Goose, Red-billed Teal, Cape Teal, Great Crested Grebe, Hartlaub’s Turaco, Bearded Vulture, Little Grebe, Narina Trogon, African Olive Pigeon, Peregrine Falcon, Red-fronted Parrot, Scaly Francolin, Southern Pochard, Golden Eagle, Verreaux’s Eagle, Lanner Falcon, Crowned Eagle, Levaillant’s Cuckoo, Jacobin Cuckoo, Ostrich, Grey Crowned Crane among others.
There are other tourist attractions in Arusha national park which include Mount Meru, Momela lake, The Ngurdoto crater, the Fig tree arch among others.
KENYA SAFARI ACTIVITIES TRO DO ARUSHA NATIONAL PARK
Arusha national park is a classic destination for Tanzania game viewing safaris done on game viewing, game viewing in this amazing park offers a chance to watch many animals living in the park on morning, afternoon and full day game drives. Famous tracks used while on game viewing safari in Arusha national park include tracks through Serengeti Ndogo “Little Serengeti” north of Ngongongare gate, the little Serengeti is a small patch of open grasslands hosting many animals such as zebras, giraffes, buffaloes, warthogs, waterbucks among others seen from the open widow of your safari vehicle.
Some of the best spots for watching animals on game viewing in Arusha national park include Ngurdoto crater and Momella Lakes which attract high number of animals, game viewing in Arusha national park offers sights of zebras, giraffes, waterbucks, bushbucks. Elephants, red duikers, black and white colobuses, klipspringers, dik-diks, buffaloes, hippos, blue monkeys and many more.
Mount Meru climbing
Mount Meru found in Arusha national park offers excellent Tanzania mountain climbing safari, Mount Meru is the second highest Mountain in Tanzania standing at altitude of 4566 meters. Mount Meru consists of a scenic volcanic cone which is one of the East Africa’s most scenic cone offering rewarding Tanzania mountain climbing safaris. Climbing Mount Meru starts from the base of the mountain at 2000 meters and it involves walking along the Knife – edge of the crater rim.
Climbing Mount Meru climbing is only done on the Momella route starting from Momella gate on the eastern side of the mountain leading to the summit along the northern arm of the horseshoe crater of the volcano. Momella route takes approximately 4 days and 3 nights to reach the top of the Mount Meru. While climbing Mount Meru your packing list should include sold hiking boots, warm clothing, walking sticks, binoculars, cameras, good sleeping bags, first aid kit, insect repellents, bandages and warm clothing.
The best time for climbing Mount Meru is between December – February and June when the skies are much clearer.
The park is rich with beautiful landscape dominated by marsh, bushes and streams perfect for Tanzania walking safaris, Arusha national park is one of the few places in Tanzania where Tanzania walking safaris are possible. Walking safaris are done on foot using several walking trails running below Mount Meru following the Ngurdoto Crater rim trail, walking experience to the Njeku Viewpoint in the Meru Crater floor is done following stage 1 of climbing Mount Meru which is a 1 day hike.
Note: while on Tanzania walking safari in Arusha, descending into the Ngurdoto crater is not permitted.
The park is a perfect Tanzania safari destination for canoe safaris done on Momella Lake situated in the heart the park, canoeing safaris offer excellent opportunities of witnessing various species of animals their natural wilderness such as buffalo, bushbucks, giraffes and many water birds such as cattle egrets, storks, shoe bill, giant kingfishers among others. Tanzania canoe safaris in Arusha national park commences early in the morning at 07:30 am and in the evening at 16:00 hours lasting for about 2-2 and a half hours.
The park is an excellent destination for Tanzania birding safaris and is recognized as one of the important birding sites in Tanzania, Arusha national park is a birder’s paradise boosting over 400 species of birds including migratory birds, wading birds, raptors and resident bird species. Birds in the park vary from one lake to another and while on Tanzania birding safari birds such as Hadada Ibis, Sacred Ibis, Greater Pink Flamingo, Lesser Pink Flamingo, Silver Cheeks Hornbill, White-necked raven, African Fish Eagle, Augur Buzzard, Bar-tailed Trogon, Mangbettu Sawwing, Southern Carmine Bee-eater, Egyptian Goose, Spur-winged Goose, Red-billed Teal, Cape Teal, Great Crested Grebe, Hartlaub’s Turaco, Bearded Vulture, Little Grebe, Narina Trogon, African Olive Pigeon, Peregrine Falcon, Red-fronted Parrot, Scaly Francolin, Southern Pochard, Golden Eagle, Verreaux’s Eagle, Lanner Falcon, Crowned Eagle, Levaillant’s Cuckoo, Jacobin Cuckoo, Ostrich, Grey Crowned Crane, Yellow-billed Stork, Saddle-billed Stork, African Spoonbill, Black-headed Heron, Cattle Egret, Black-winged Stilt, African Jacanas, Pied Avocet, Red-billed Oxpecker, Bronzy Sunbird, Grey-headed Bushshrike, White-crested Tilt, African Paradise Flycatcher, White-browed Coucal, Hamerkop, Pelican among others.
Bird watching in Arusha national park is best done from November to April when migratory birds are present in the park from Europe and northern Africa countries, the best spots for spotting birds in Arusha national park include Momella lakes and Ngurdoto crater.
Horseback riding safaris are a unique experience to do while on a Tanzania safari, horseback riding is a fantastic way of exploring the beauty of Arusha national park on the back of a horse. Horseback ride takes about 5-7 hours of riding on trails running through the savannah plains of park between Mount Meru and Mount Kilimanjaro. This unforgettable experience offers close views of the animals such as zebras, waterbucks, elephants, red duikers among others.
HOW TO GET TO ARUSHA NATIONAL PARK
The park is situated in about 35 kilometers northeast of Arusha city and is a drive of about 4o minutes drive, from Kilimanjaro International Airport the park is a drive of about 1 hour drive. The park is accessed using gates such as Ngongongare gate, Momella gate and others, to get to the park both private and public means of road transport are available on routes such as main road between Arusha and Moshi and Nairobi highway.
ACCOMMODATION IN ARUSHA NATIONAL PARK
There a variety of accommodation establishments to stay in while on a Tanzania safari in Arusha national park, these accommodation establishments are categorized as luxury, midrange and budget. Accommodation in Arusha park includes Ngurdoto Mountain lodge, The Africa Tulip, Arusha Serena Hotel, Resort & Spa, Ngare Sero Mountain Lodge, Momella Wildlife Lodge, Mount Meru game lodge, Hatari Lodge, Itikoni Seasonal Camp among others.