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Arusha National Park

The closest national park to Arusha town – northern Tanzania’s safari capital – Arusha National Park is a multi-faceted jewel, often overlooked by safarigoers, despite offering the opportunity to explore a beguiling diversity of habitats within a few hours.

The entrance gate leads into shadowy montane forest inhabited by inquisitive blue monkeys and colourful turacos and trogons – the only place on the northern safari circuit where the acrobatic black-and-white colobus monkey is easily seen. In the midst of the forest stands the spectacular Ngurdoto Crater, whose steep, rocky cliffs enclose a wide marshy floor dotted with herds of buffalo and warthog.

Further north, rolling grassy hills enclose the tranquil beauty of the Momela Lakes, each one a different hue of green or blue. Their shallows sometimes tinged pink with thousands of flamingos, the lakes support a rich selection of resident and migrant waterfowl, and shaggy waterbucks display their large lyre-shaped horns on the watery fringes. Giraffes glide across the grassy hills, between grazing zebra herds, while pairs of wide-eyed dik-dik dart into scrubby bush like overgrown hares on spindly legs.

Although elephants are uncommon in Arusha National Park, and lions absent altogether, leopards and spotted hyenas may be seen slinking around in the early morning and late afternoon. It is also at dusk and dawn that the veil of cloud on the eastern horizon is most likely to clear, revealing the majestic snow-capped peaks of Kilimanjaro, only 50km (30 miles) distant.

But it is Kilimanjaro’s unassuming cousin, Mount Meru – the fifth highest in Africa at 4,566 metres (14,990 feet) – that dominates the park’s horizon. Its peaks and eastern footslopes protected within the national park, Meru offers unparalleled views of its famous neighbour, while also forming a rewarding hiking destination in its own right.

Passing first through wooded savannah where buffalos and giraffes are frequently encountered, the ascent of Meru leads into forests aflame with red-hot pokers and dripping with Spanish moss, before reaching high open heath spiked with giant lobelias. Everlasting flowers cling to the alpine desert, as delicately-hoofed klipspringers mark the hike’s progress. Astride the craggy summit, Kilimanjaro stands unveiled, blushing in the sunrise.

You Will See

Buffalo

Buffalo

100%
Giraffe

Giraffe

80%
Lion

Lion

80%

Fox

30%
Wildebeest

Wildebeest

100%
Elephant

Elephant

100%
Zebra

Zebra

100%
Leopard

Leopard

80%
Hippo

Hippo

90%
White Rhino

Rhino

15%

When to go

Arusha is open to tourist year-round, but the best time to visit is during the Dry

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Arusha is open to tourist year-round, but the best time to visit is during the Dry season. It is the time when wildlife is easily spotted. The season starts from June until October. So June, July, August, September, October are the best months to visit. January-February, and November-December are fair enough but rain is expected. March, April, and May are the months of rainy season with heavy rainfall. So avoid them.

Art & Culture

While most people fall for the expansive and diverse riches of myriad flora

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While most people fall for the expansive and diverse riches of myriad flora and avifauna and the breathtaking landscapes where the opportunities for adventure shoot heavenwards with the majestic Mt. Kilimanjaro and Meru; the cultural landscape is no less enticing to be sidestepped. The rich natural heritage and the presence of nearly 125 ethnic tribes endow Tanzania with a vivid and fascinating cultural tapestry with no parallel in the world. And nowhere is this more indicative than the thriving tourist town of Arusha which is home to more than hundred nationalities including dozens of primitive and indigenous and ethnic cultures existing peacefully with Muslim and Christian communities. Art aficionados and collectors would find the trip to the Cultural Heritage Centre rewarding for its wide selection of African art, sculptures, and artifacts. National History Museum and Arusha Declaration Museum among others will give you highlights of the socio-political history of the country.

Culinary

One of the many positive spin-offs of being a melting pot of cultures is the

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One of the many positive spin-offs of being a melting pot of cultures is the smorgasbord of culinary delights one has on offer. Arusha truly is a food paradise with its wide variety of dishes. The traditional local and Tanzanian spread is complemented by the presence of multiple Indian, Mediterranean, continental and Chinese cuisines. Giving tough competition to Ugali – a thick porridge prepared from maize flour is the Ethiopian delicacies served in the many restaurants of the town. For breakfast, the locals prefer eating deep-fried bananas (ndizi choma), sweet potato or boiled cassava with a cup of chai. On the meat spread Nyama Choma ( barbecued meat) is a native favourite but there are also kebabs to whet your appetite. There is no shortage of comfort food in the many restaurants dotting the town but if you want that authentic local experience just say “Kuku choma na mbuzi mbavu choma na ndizi choma na chipsy” (grilled chicken, goat ribs, bananas and French fries); followed by “Asanate sana” (thank you very much). And when done, wash it down with a Kili lager. Makes sense to do it as the locals do! But remember to wash your hands and use your right hand to eat.

How to go

The Arusha National Park is the most easily reachable national park in the

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The Arusha National Park is the most easily reachable national park in the northern circuit mainly because of its proximity to main airports and bus stops.

Roadways:

It is 45 minutes drive from the Arusha Town with accommodation all along the road.

Flights:

Take direct flights to Kilimanjaro International Airport or to Julius Nyerere International Airport in Dar es Salaam and then a domestic flight to Arusha Airport. Charter. Charter flights into the park are available and booked by tour operators.

Activites

Arusha National Park offers a myriad of activities to tourists coming into the

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Arusha National Park offers a myriad of activities to tourists coming into the park. The varied landscape comprising of mountain, hill, savannah, forest, and lake make it possible. Some of the activities are:

  • Game Drives (day only)
  • Walking safari
  • Hiking
  • Swimming
  • Photography Safari
  • Cultural tours

What to see?

Arusha, even though being smaller in size, is rich in wildlife concentration

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Arusha, even though being smaller in size, is rich in wildlife concentration which is because of the varied landscape and ecosystem. It hosts the largest giraffe population in Africa. Animals like elephant, cape buffalo, waterbuck, lion are easily seen in this park with occasion sighting of leopard, hyena, and wild dog. More than 400 bird species are recorded in Arusha which includes the famous flamingos and Hadeda Ibis.

Mount Meru, Ngurdoto Crater, and Momella Lakes are two of the most important geographical features of this national park. So clearly there’s plenty of things to see.

The Uniqueness of Arusha National Park

  • Arusha National Park hosts the Mt. Meru, the continent's 5th highest mountain peak. The mountain is still an active volcano and billowing fumes can be occasionally be seen rising from the highest peaks.
  • The park is also known for the 2.4kilometre wide Ngurdoto Crater.
  • Arusha is the only park in the northern Tanzania where you can spot the white and black Colobus monkeys.

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