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.
Passing first through wooded savannah where buffalos and giraffes are frequently encountered, the ascent of Meru leads into forests.
The park is the closest one to Arusha town, the safari capital of the North. The park is often overlooked by safari goers, despite offering the opportunity to explore a captivating diversity of habitats within a few hours. Although elephants are uncommon in the park and lions absent altogether, leopards and hyenas may be seen slinking around in the early morning and late afternoon. You also have a good chance to see buffaloes, warthogs and Colobus monkeys. The beautiful lake Momela will often be colored pink by thousands of flamingos and the park has a rich selection of migrants like waterbucks, giraffes, zebras and dik diks.
In the middle of the forest stands the spectacular Ngurdoto Crater, whose steep, rocky cliffs enclose a wide marshy floor dotted with herds of buffalo and warthogs. At dusk and dawn the veil of clouds on the Eastern horizon is most likely to clear, revealing the majestic snow-capped peaks of Kilimanjaro.
But it is Kilimanjaro’s cousin, Mount Meru (the fifth highest in Africa at 4,566 metres) that dominates the park’s horizon. Its peaks and Eastern slopes are protected within the National Park, and Meru offers unparalleled views of its famous neighbor, while also forming a rewarding hiking destination in its own.
An easy 40-minute drive from Arusha. Approximately 60 km from Kilimanjaro International Airport. The lakes, forest and Ngurdoto Crater can all be visited in the course of a half-day outing at the beginning or end of an extended Northern safari.
- Forest walks, numerous picnic sites.
- 3-4 days Mt. Meru climb (good acclimatization for Kilimanjaro).
- Game drive
- Canoe trip in the lake
To climb Mt. Meru: June-February, although it may rain in November.
Best views of Kilimanjaro: December-February.
Game drive: The whole year.
Two lodges, two rest houses, camp sites, two mountain huts inside the park; more lodges at Usa River outside the park and many hotels and hostels in Arusha and Moshi town.
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