Arusha National Park
Arusha National Park is a spectacular Tanzania safari destination lieing in the northern Tanzania safari circuit close to Arusha city capital of Tanzania’s northern region. Arusha national park is located in north-eastern Tanzania next to Kenya border and lies in a distance of approximately 35 kilometers from Arusha city, 58 kilometers from Moshi and 35 kilometers from Kilimanjaro International airport.
Arusha national park covers an area of 552 square kilometers encompassing Mount Meru which is a prominent volcanic mountain with a magnificent crater “Ngurdoto crater” on the top which makes the park a stunning destination. Ngurdoto crater was formed as a result of volcanic eruptions believed to have happened 1-3 million years ago, mount Meru stands at the altitude of 4,566 meters thus being the second highest mountain in Tanzania coming second to the snowcapped mountain Kilimanjaro.
Arusha national park was established in 1960 together with Lake Manyara national park making them the second oldest park in Tanzania, the park was established following the comments made by Count Talek in 1876 about the vast number of hippopotamus and black rhinos in the park. Unfortunately hippos and black rhinos have reduced in the park, in 1907 Trappe family relocated to Momella area to do farming and Mrs. Trappe become the first woman in East Africa to become a professional hunter in East Africa. Later a large part of Momella estate was voluntarily set aside as a game sanctuary, following the establishment of the park in 1960 the farm was incorporated into the park. In 1960 Ngurdoto Crater national park was established and the name was changed to Arusha national park, the name Arusha is a local word from Warusha people who used to stay in the area.
Arusha national park’s landscape consists of Mount Meru, Momella lakes Ngurdoto crater and small Serengeti
- Mount Meru is a magnificent feature lieing in the east of the Great Rift Valley, this mountain is named after a local slag Meru translated as “that which does not make noise”. The Masai people refer to the mountain as Ol Doinyo Orok which means “Black Mountain”.
- Momella lakes – are a chain of 7 alkaline lakes found northeast of the park, these lakes are great site for Tanzania birding safaris. Momella lakes were formed as a result of volcanic debris created as a result of huge explosion blowing away the top of mount Meru, these lakes include Big Momela, small Momela, El Kekhotoito, kusare, Rishateni, Lekandiro and Tulisa. Each of these lakes has a different color shade depending on the minerals containing in each lake, because of the minerals and algae many species of birds are attracted to this lake such as thousands of pink flamingoes, pelicans and many more.
Arusha national park is among the best Tanzania game viewing destinations, the park habits a number of animal species such as buffalo, zebras, giraffes, hippos, warthogs, waterbucks, zebras, bush pigs, dik-dik, reedbucks, elephant, red duikers, black and white colobus monkeys, spotted hyenas, wild cats, leopards, blue monkeys and many more. Arusha national park is another great birding site excellent for Tanzania birding safaris, the park is a home to over 400 recorded bird species including flamingoes, 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 and many more
Safari activities in Arusha national park
Arusha national park is an excellent destination for a classic Tanzania game viewing safari, game viewing safari in Arusha national park are conducted on several tracks running through the park most especially Serengeti Ndogo also referred to as Little Serengeti. Game drives are done in open roof 4X4 wheel vehicles and from the open widows you get to enjoy viewing many animals such as buffaloes, hippos, waterbucks, klipspringers, dik-diks, black and white colobus monkeys, giraffe, black and white rhino, elephants, hippos and many more.
Mount Meru climbing
Arusha national park is a great destination for Tanzania mountain climbing safaris, mountain climbing safaris in this park are done on Mountain Meru the second highest mountain in Tanzania standing at the altitude of 4566 Meters. Climbing Mountain Meru is done using Momella route leading up to the summit, this route starts from Momella gate on the eastern side of the mountain to the summit along the northern arm of the horseshoe crater. Mount Meru climbing safari takes approximately 4 days and 3 nights to reach the summit and descend.
Though there are less area for walking safaris, Arusha park is still a perfect destination for Tanzania walking safaris. Walking safaris in Arusha park is offered in Ujambo Wa Mbogo “buffalo glade”, the area is dominated by marsh, bushes and streams, the streams are watering holes in the area and many animals are seen on the stream such as buffaloes, giraffes, warthogs and many more. Walking safaris in Arusha national park is also offered in several trails passing below Mountain Meru and following Ngurdoto crater.
Caution: descending into crater is not permitted while walking safaris in Arusha park
Arusha national park is a great bird watching destination ideal for Tanzania bird watching safaris, the park is a home to over 400 recorded bird species which are attracted to the park because varying mineral content mostly around Momella lakes. Bird watching in Arusha national park is a chance for spotting hundreds of bird species such as flamingoes, Turacos, trogons, African fish eagle, African olive pigeon, Augur buzzard, Bar-tailed trogon, Bearded vulture, Black saw-wing, Cinnamon-chested bee-eater, Egyptian goose, Great crested grebe, Hartlaub’s turaco, little grebe, Narina trogon, Peregrine falcon, Red-fronted parrot, Scaly francolin, Silvery-cheeked hornbill, Southern Pochard, Tawny eagle, Verreaux’s eagle and many more. Best time for bird watching in Arusha national park is in the month of November – April when migratory birds arrive in the park.
Canoeing safaris in Arusha national park is an exciting Tanzania safari done on the beautiful Momella Lake which situated the heart of the park, Tanzania canoe safari is conducted in an open canoe commencing at 2 intervals in the day that is 07:30 am in the morning and 04:00 Pm in the evening. as you canoe over the water of Lake Momella look out sights of many animals such as buffalo, bushbucks, giraffes, hippos and many water birds such as cattle egrets, kingfishers, storks and many more.
Horseback safari is one of the exotic and unique to tour Arusha park while on a Tanzania safari, horseback riding is an ecofriendly of exploring the park when compared to using a safari vehicle and the advantage of horseback riding is that you get up close sights of the animals. Horseback riding takes about 5-7 hours of riding through trails in savannah plains between Mountain Meru and mountain Kilimanjaro. Tanzania horseback riding safari in Arusha national park grants tourists a chance to enjoy fresh air, scenic sights of the park and many animals such as lions, leopards, elephants, buffaloes, spotted hyenas and many more.
How to get to Arusha national park
Arusha national park is situated in a distance of about 35 kilometers north west of Arusha city to the main entrance of the park which is about 40 minutes’ drive and from Kilimanjaro international airport it is a drive of about 1 hour. Arusha national park is accessed by air and by road transport means, by air direct flights offered to Kilimanjaro national park situated in a distance 46 kilometers to the park and domestic flights are offered at Arusha airport then drive to the park. By road, from Arusha the main road between Arusha and Moshi is used to get to the park. There are several busses heading to Ngare Nanyuki village on a daily basis, these buses depart Arusha between 1:30 pm and reach Ngare Nanyuki between 7 am and 8 am.
Where to stay Arusha national park
While on Tanzania safari in Arusha park accommodation is got from various comfortably established lodges and camp distinguished as luxury, midrange and budget. Accommodation in Arusha national park include Ngurdoto Mountain lodge, The Africa Tulip, Arusha Serena Hotel, Resort & Spa, Ngare Sero Mountain Lodge, Momella Wildlife lodge, Mount Meru game lodge, Itikoni Seasonal camp and many more.