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Arusha National Park

Incomparable Luxurious Safaris to Africa's Top Wildlife Viewing Parks

Exploring Tanzania’s wide—open plains is a breath-taking experience in itself. So imagine being free to leave your vehicle and let some vertical adventure add to the drama. ln Arusha National Park, the majestic Mount Meru awaits, ready to be tamed on Foot! The exhilaration of reaching the top only increases with Mount Kilimanjaro revealing its snowy peak to the East. The ultimate view over one of Africa’s most picture perfect landscapes.

Arusha National Park gives you the opportunity to explore nature at its closest. There are good trekking facilities along the climbing route. The route passes through diverse habitats: swamps, open plains, montane forests and volcanoes, all packed within a distance of35 km.

The most striking landmarks are Mount Meru and the Ngurdoto caldera, formed after volcanic eruptions between I and 3 million years ago. Mount Meru hasn’t put on a show in over a century, but 6,000 years ago a huge explosion blew away the eastern edge, causing a massive landslide. It is also how the mesmerizing north-eastern Momela Lakes were born. Due to different levels of alkalinity, each of these seven lakes boasts its own spectacular greenish-blue tone. The water is dotted pink with lesser and greater flamingos, while every now and then you might meet the eyes of a hippopotamus. The extinct N gurdoto volcano in the east is home to a mini N gorongoro. Looking down from the crater rim you see montane forests — keep an eye open for the majestic Fig Tree Arch — while an open, swampy bottom spreads out below it, at an altitude of around 1,470 metres.

The extinct Ngurdoto volcano is home to a mini Ngorongoro

The entire park is full of life. You will encounter herds of buffalos (the park’s most abundant species), zebra and giraffe often, but warthog, waterbuck, pairs of dik-dik and reedbuck are also frequent sights. Other mammals roaming the area are the elusive aardvark, the bush pig and the crested porcupine. The low braying call of the silvery-checked hornbill regularly penetrates the silence, just as the harsh rhythmic cry of the endangered black and white colobus monkey. And this is not the only acrobat in the dense forest; there are also plenty of vervet monkeys, blue monkeys and olive baboons to be seen.  The well-trained spotter’s eye will be treated to almost 450 bird species.  Although you won’t hear the ferocious roar of a lion very often — the last temporary visit took place in the late 1990’s — other big cats can be sited. Keep an eye open for spotted hyena, wild cat, leopard and  on the slopes of Mount Meru, even a wandering elephant.

The well—trained spotter’s eye will be treated to almost 450 bird species

But it’s the feeling of solitude that might just be the best asset of Arusha National Park. Even being hemmed in by human settlements, Arusha Park is the quietest amongst the six best- known parks in northern Tanzania.

Walking up Mount Meru: a spectacular four-day trek

Day 1: a 10 km trek from Momela to Miriakamba that takes about 5 hours (ascent 1,014 metres)

Day 2: a 4 km trek to Saddle hut that takes about 5 hours (ascent 1,056 meters)

Day 3: Rest day

Day 4: a 22 km trek to the summit and back to Momela that takes about 16-17 hours (ascent 996 metres, descent 3,066 metres)

The climb of Tanzania’s second highest mountain starts in the wooded savannah roamed by buffalos and giraffes. Between an elevation of 1,500 en 3,300 metres you are surrounded by montane forests full of birds and monkeys. From here up to 3,900 metres giant heathers dominate the terrain. You conquer the final metres to the summit in a barren alpine zone and an upland desert.

NOTE: don't forget to look down every now and then for two very local species of chameleons. The conspicuous three-horned Jackson’s chameleon frequently seen around Miriakamba Hut and the Ruwenzori side-striped chameleon, which might reveal itself around Saddle Hut.

  • Arusha National Park is the second oldest park in Tanzania together with Lake Manyara. It was established in 1960.
  • It’s one of the smallest national parks: with its 542 km2 (and only 35 km from east to west) it’s 4% of the size of the Serengeti. The most recent enlargement took place in 2005: land was added on almost all sides and the area almost quadrupled.
  • Height: from 1,450 metres (Momela Lakes) to 4,566 metres (Summit of Mt Meru). The entrance gates and major park roads lay at around 1,500 metres.

 

Majestic Mount Meru awaits, ready to be tamed on foot

What to do 

Game drives, Canoeing, walking safari, climbing Mount Meru.

Arusha National Park