ARUSHA NATIONAL PARK

Arusha national park is one of the remarkable national parks in Tanzania located in north-eastern region close to Arusha town and adjacent to the border of Kenya and Tanzania, the park lies in a distance of 35 kilometers’ drive from Arusha city, 58 kilometers from Moshi and 35 kilomters from Kilimanjaro International airport (KIA). Arusha international airport is the second oldest national park in Tanzania covering an area of 552 square kilometers, the area of the park comprises of a diverse range of landscapes in various direction of the park. These landscapes include Meru crater funnels, Jekukumia River and the peak of Mountain Meru in the west, Ngurdoto crater in south-east dominated by savannah and shallow alkaline Momella lakes in North-east.

Arusha national park encompasses Mount Meru the second-highest mountain in Tanzania after Mount Kilimanjaro, Mount Meru is a volcanic cone said to have erupted 3 million years ago. This mountain stands at the altitude of 4,566 meters and consists of a magnificent crater “Ngurdoto crater” which is one of the striking features in Arusha national park. Ngurdoto crater is sometimes refered to as the Little Ngorongoro is a crater of 3.2 kilometers in diameter and a depth of 300 meters, the crater is in a shape of a basin and features very steep walls which are dotted with dense rainforest. The bottom of the crater is dominated by marshy grassland habiting buffaloes, elephants, antelopes, baboons, leopards, monkeys and many birds.

Arusha national park together with Lake Manyara national park are the second oldest park in Tanzania, the park owes its establishment and history to a Hungarian Count Teleki who visited the Momella area in 1876. Upon his visit he was fascinated by the vast number of hippopotamus and black rhinos in the area, in 1907 the area was also visited by Trappe family which established a farm in the area which they used as a cattle ranch. When the area was established as a national park in 1960 the farm and Ngurdoto crater were incorporated into the area of the park and in 1967 Mount Meru area was also added to the park. Arusha national park’s name is derived from a local Warusha people who used to inhabit in the area currently known as Arusha national park.

On addition to the magnificent landscape and physical features, Arusha national park is a home to a variety of mammal species and over 400 bird species. Because of the large concentration of animals Arusha national park is listed among the 6 best destinations to visit in  for wildlife viewing , animals in this park include buffaloes, zebras, warthogs, hippos, reedbucks, duikers, bush pigs, giraffes, dik-dik, leopards, elephants, wildcats, spotted hyenas, blue monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys and many more. These animals are best sighted on the slopes of Mount Meru, shadowy montane forests, near Ngurdoto Museum, and Momella lakes.

Bird population In Arusha national park is over 400 species including forest species, migratory species present from November to April, woodland species and water species found along the shores of Momella lakes. These birds include flamingoes, hammerkops, pelicans, white crested Tilt, African paradise flycatchers, grey headed bush shrikes, red-billed Oxpeckers, bronzy sunbirds, pied Avocet, black-winged stilt, African jacanas, African spoonbills, black-headed herons, Jacobin cuckoos, Levaillant’s cuckoos, crowned eagles, yellow-billed storks, lanner falcons, southern Pochards, golden eagles, red-fronted parrots, silver checked  hornbills, grey-crowned cranes, Augur buzzards and many more. 1690

Tourist activities in Arusha national park

Game viewing

Game viewing is one of the remarkable safari experiences done in Arusha national park, the park is a home to numerous species of large mammals which habit in various vegetation zones such as savannah grasslands, forests and around the bank of Momella lakes. game viewing is done on a drive in an open roof vehicle and on the drive you will spot many animals such as waterbucks, bushbucks, giraffes, leopards, elephants, buffaloes, dik-dik, zebras, giraffes and many more. Game viewing experience is done on morning game drive, afternoon game drive and evening game drive.

Bird watching

Arusha national park is one of the important birding areas in Tanzania and a habit to over 400 bird species which makes birding watching experience a memorable one, birding watching in Arusha national park is an opportunity for spotting numerous bird species such as flamingoes, hammerkops, pelicans, white crested Tilt, African paradise flycatchers, grey headed bush shrikes, red-billed Oxpeckers, bronzy sunbirds, pied Avocet, black-winged stilt, African jacanas, African spoonbills, black-headed herons, Jacobin cuckoos, Levaillant’s cuckoos, crowned eagles, yellow-billed storks, lanner falcons and many more. The perfect spots for bird watching include the savannah grasslands, shores of Momella lake crowded by flamingoes and forest galleries dotted on the slopes and base of Mount  Meru.

Mountain Meru climbing

For mount climbing lovers Arusha national park is a perfect destination for you, Mount Meru is the second-highest mountain in Tanzania and a spectacular mountain for mountain climbing experience. The mountain posses impeccable scenic features such as Ngurdoto crater, cliffs in the inner wall and a steep rise from a circular base. Mountain Meru climbing is done on Momella route which is the only route leading to the summit of the summit of the mountain, this route starts from Momella gate on the eastern side of the mountain and passes along the northern arm of the horsehoe crater. Climbing Mount Meru using Momella route can be completed in 4 days and 3 nights.

Walking safaris

Walking safari in Arusha national park is a grand adventurous retreat enabling you explore parts of the park which are not accessed by vehicle, walking safaris are perfectly done in Ujambo Wa Mbogo “the buffalo glade”, this area is dominated by marsh, bushes and numerous streams serving as a feeding ground for warthogs, buffaloes and giraffes which are seen while in this area. Walking safaris are also done on numerous trails running through the park such as one passing below mount Meru and another following Ngurdoto Crater rim trail.

Canoeing

Canoeing in Arusha national park exposes a tourist a whole new different kind of world featuring scenic sights, animals and cool breeze on the lake, canoeing is done on Momella lake lasting 2-3 hours and offered in two sessions with early morning session commencing at 07:30 am and evening session commencing at 04:00 pm. Canoeing offers uninterrupted views of Mount Meru, sights of animals like buffaloes, bushbucks, giraffes, hippos and water birds such as giant kingfishers, cattle egrets, storks and many more.

Horseback riding

Horseback riding in Arusha national park is both an exciting safari activity and an eco-friendly way of touring and enjoying the adventure, horseback riding is done in a duration of 5-7 hours and as you ride on the back of the horse you will enjoy scenic sights including mount Meru and many animals such as elephants, leopards, buffaloes and many more. Horseback riding experience offers a grand chance of getting close to the animals such as giraffes and you also get to tour through trails which are not accessible by vehicle.

Where to stay in Arusha national park

Arusha national park is dotted with numerous accommodation establishments offering a place to stay to visitors on a safari, the accommodation establishments are offered as luxury, midrange and budget. Accommodation establishments in Arusha national park include Ngurdoto mountain lodge, the Africa Tulip, Arusha Serena hotel, resort and spa, Ngare Sero Mountain Lodge, Momella wildlife lodge, Mount Meru Game lodge, Hatari lodge, Itikoni Seasonal camp and many more.

How to get to Arusha national park

Arusha national park is situated north east of Arusha the capital of Arusha region in a distance of about 35 kilometers taking a drive of approximately 40 minute’s drive, Arusha national park is reached using both road and air means of transport. By road it is possible to use both private and public vehicles, there are several daily buses from Arusha city to Ngare Nanyuki village and these buses stop at Ngongongare gate. Flights to Arusha national park land at Kilimanjaro international airport and from the airport it is a distance of 46 kilometers to the park.