Arusha National Park
This often overlooked park is a perfect introduction to your Arusha Safari experience. The extinct volcano Mount Meru with its rocky peak towers majestically out of the surrounding mountain forest. With its ‘Socialist Peak‘ at 4,562 metres, it is almost as high as Europe’s highest mountain, Mont Blanc at 4,807 metres. In the colder season it sometimes wears a white crown like its big neighbour Kilimanjaro.
The reason why we include Arusha National Park is that we can offer hiking safaris for all price ranges at the foot of Mount Meru. To get as close as possible to nature, you should not miss out on a walking safari. Leave the modern world completely behind and immerse yourself in the pure wilderness. Get a feeling of how safaris and adventures were experienced in the past.
Facts and Figures
Area: 2.850 km²
Travel: 20 km from Arusha
Visitors: 67.000 / year
Known for: Colobus monkeys, rain forest, Mount Meru Volcano, Hatari! Movie (1962)
Activities: Game Drives, Walking Safari, Mount Meru Climbing, Canoeing
Arusha National Park
Founded in 1960, the park contained only the Ngurdoto Crater and Momella Lakes until 1967, when the extinct volcano Mount Meru (Africa’s fourth highest mountain at 4,566 metres) was added. The flora and fauna varies with the topography, which ranges from rainforest to alpine climate zone. The best time to travel is in the dry season from July to March. The best months to climb Mount Meru are June to February (although there is some rainfall in November). The mountain can be seen from almost every part of the park, on a clear day you have a great view of the “big brother” Kilimanjaro. Arusha National Park is a green jewel and is home to the fourth highest mountain in Africa, Mount Meru (4,566 meters)
The park is home to a diverse population of herbivores, primates and predators, including black and white colobus monkeys, baboons, elephants, giraffes, buffalo, hippos, leopards, hyenas, waterbucks, warthogs and a wide range of antelope species. From the summit of Mount Meru you have an impressive view of the crater and the 3000 meter lower eruption cone. Arusha National Park is famous for its 400 species of birds, both migratory and native, such as red sharks, hammerheads, geese, herons, woodpeckers, grey parrots, secretaries and many more. The Momela Lakes offer numerous opportunities for bird watching. This game reserve, with Mount Meru, Ngurdoto Crater and the flamingo-populated Momella Lakes, is one of Tanzania’s most beautiful and topographically diverse parks, although it is one of the smallest within Tanzania’s borders.
The entrance gate leads into a shady mountain forest inhabited by monkeys and colourful turacos and trogons – one of the few places where the acrobatic black and white colobus monkey is easily seen. In the middle of the forest is the spectacular Ngurdoto Crater, whose steep, rocky cliffs reveal a wide swamp floor with herds of buffalo and warthogs. Further north, gentle grassy mountains surround the tranquil beauty of Momela Lakes, each of which is a different shade of green or blue. Their shoals sometimes turn pink with thousands of flamingos, and the lakes are home to a rich variety of water birds. Herds of zebra graze on green hills, while pairs of dik-diks shoot into the bush like rabbits on scrawny legs. Giraffes are always remembered as a special highlight. Even from a distance, you can spot these majestic animals in the lake district, as they stretch their long necks into the branches of umbrella acacias. The giraffe is Tanzania’s heraldic animal. Despite its neck being about two metres long, it has, just like us humans, only seven cervical vertebrae, which are however very long. Giraffe bulls grow up to five and a half metres tall, the females are about half a metre smaller. A baby giraffe is already the size of an adult human at birth. The two small horns on the giraffe’s head are bone cones covered with fur. – Usually giraffes stand together in small groups. Their main food consists of the leaves of acacia trees. The fine pinnate leaves of these trees are skilfully plucked out with the tongue, which is almost half a meter long, between the pointed thorns. Only one subspecies, the so-called Maasai giraffe, is found in Arusha National Park and in all of Tanzania. Accordingly, there are no reticulated giraffes in Tanzania; they only occur in northern Kenya and southern Ethiopia. The difference lies mainly in the pattern of their fur: while the net giraffe has an extremely regular fishing net pattern, the darker pattern patches of the Maasai giraffe are jagged and more irregular.
Even though lions are completely absent, elephants are not uncommon in Arusha National Park and it can happen that leopards and spotted hyenas prowl around in the early morning and late afternoon. When the clouds clear on the eastern horizon around noon, they reveal a magnificent view of the majestic snow-capped peak of Kilimanjaro, which is only 60 km away.
If you walk attentively through the bush, as our ancestors once did, not only a true educational experience awaits you, but also a sensory one – a feeling that very few people reach nowadays. In case you encounter an elephant, buffalo or even a leopard along the way, you will be accompanied by an armed ranger during your hike.