Welcome to Arusha National Park
Arusha National park is Tanzania’s most accessible park located 25 kilometres east of the city of Arusha, named after it. Arusha national park is contagious to Africa’s most popular wilderness, spanning from Serengeti and Ngorongoro crater in the west to Kilimanjaro environs in the east. The most dominant natural feature in the park is Mount Meru, a volcano with an altitude of 4566m which is the second-highest mountain in the country after Kilimanjaro mountain.
Arusha national park is tiny but with several remarkable terrains in its three sections for instance; Ngurdoto crater which is a grassland is in the southeast, in the west, the Meru crater channels Jekumia River; the top summit of Mount Meru sits on its rim and the shallow alkaline Momella Lakes in the northeast.
In terms of wildlife, Arusha national park is endowed but not as much as Serengeti and Ngorongoro Conservation areas which are situated in the same region, the northern safari circuit. The animals in the park include elephants, zebra, warthogs, bushbuck, giraffes, cape buffaloes, flamings, colobus monkeys, et cetera. Leopards are also recorded in the park but their presence is irregular. Arusha national park is a popular nest of different bird species, most notably the rare bar-tailed trogon and Narina trogon.
How to reach Arusha National Park?
The Arusha national park is the most accessible national park in Tanzania, a few miles away northeast of Arusha, the main starting point of guided and self drive trips in Tanzania., with many tours and travel agencies as well are car rental companies in Tanzania. Its main gate is 25 kilometres east of Arusha city, 35 kilometres from Kilimanjaro International Airport and 58 kilometres from Moshi. Road travel is the only transport option to reach Arusha national park because of its closeness to one of the main international airports in the country. There is an availability of public means commuting from Arusha city to the remote areas where the park is located. The ideal means of road transport to use is car hire services which can be arranged by the local tour operator.
Things to do in Arusha National park Tanzania
Though most travellers spend one day in the park, Arusha national park has a couple of tourism activities to do to keep you around for about three or more days in its exciting and adventurous expanses. Below are some of the things to do in the park;
- Game drives:
The game drive is the most ideal way of exploring Arusha national park and enjoying its wild mammals and birds. The game drives are carried out during day and night time. Hire a 4×4 car in Arusha with a pop-up roof with a professional and experienced tour guide to have an insightful and exciting game viewing experience in the wilderness of Arusha national park. The popular game drive tracks taken to chance tourists to see the different wild mammals in the park are Momella lakes, Ngurdoto crater and the rims of Meru crater. The regular animals found in the grasslands and other environs of the park are elephants, colobus monkeys, warthogs, zebras, giraffes, hippos and waterbucks.
- Mountain Hiking
Mount Meru is one of the iconic features in Arusha national park and climbing the mountain is one of the reasons tourists visit the park. Mount Meru with an elevation of 4566 metres is the second-highest mountain in Tanzania after Kilimanjaro Mountain. Hiking mount Meru exposes tourists to lots of natural wonders that leave them awestruck for instance, at its lower slopes dominated by forests and grasslands, there is the presence of ungulates (zebras and giraffes), primate species and innumerable birds. At the top summit, a panoramic view of the northern wilderness of Tanzania presents itself, including Serengeti plains, Ngorongoro crater and mountain Kilimanjaro.
It takes four days to hike the summit of Mount Meru.
- Boat ride
For the visitor of Arusha National park to marvel at the different aquatic lives on Momella Lakes, they have to go canoeing. It takes about 2 to 3 hours. The shallow alkaline lake has hippos, waterbuck and a colossal population of flamingos and other water birds that dip and float on its waters. On its shores, giraffes, buffaloes and elephants are seen clearing their throats after a long graze.
Birding in the park is normally conducted around Momella lakes, Ngurudoto and Meru forests. The three areas offer distinctive birding areas as completely different bird species are found in each of the three natural environments. Birds to watch on a birding expedition in Arusha national park include; flamingos, lammergeyer, red-fronted parrot, Egyptian goose, black saw wing, African fish eagle and many more.
- Guided nature walks
With fewer predators, Arusha national park is a viable destination for nature walks. The nature walks in Arusha bring travellers closest to nature and its wonders. Different walking trails are designed around the park leading to the various exciting natural features and breeding places of animals. The activity takes about 2-6 hours depending on the route. Popular trekking routes in Arusha national park comprise Momella Gate to Itikoni, Laitong to Buffalo, Kitoto to Njeku through Meru Crater, Mommella Gate TO Tululusia Waterfall and Buffalo to Kaitong.
Perfect Time to Visit Arusha National Park
The park is open throughout the year. However, the dry season which covers the months of January- Mid March and June to October and December presents the best conditions for exploring the park in the most convenient way possible. This is the time when the game drive tracks in the park are dry and accessible. A 4 wheel drive vehicle is highly recommended, especially during the wet season. For self-drive travelers, car rental in Tanzania is very expensive compared to other parts of East Africa. Therefore, we recommend renting a car with a driver to fully explore Arisha Nationa Park and other parts of Tanzania. It is also when different animal species gather at Mommella lake as the only source of water at that time hence having an amazing and expedient game viewing experience.
Where to stay
Since Arusha National park is located close to the city, travellers have a variety of lodges and hotels to stay ranging from budget, standard to high-end options. For those who wish to stay within the park, the most suitable places are Meru Lodge, Mbega Lodge and Momella safari lodge. These are eco-based lodges that offer a natural atmosphere every traveller would relish on a safari trip.