Arusha National Park

Arusha National Park

Arusha National Park is one of the mysterious national parks located in the Northern Tanzania , Northeast of Arusha city. It is famous for being a home to the Tanzania’s second highest mountain, Mount Meru and the world’s largest population of giraffes. It covers 552 square kilometers. It is 25 kilometers east of Arusha, 58 kilometers from Moshi and 35 kilometers from Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA) . It harbors incredible wildlife species that cannot be viewed in other national parks in the northern circuit including vegetation types like the lush rainforest, savannah, alpine vegetation,  animals like buffaloes, bushbucks, warthogs, zebras, red duikers, elephants, giraffes, leopards, hippos, primates like black and white colobus monkeys, vervet monkeys, blue monkeys, bird species like grey crowned crane, flamingos, African fish eagle, hartlaubs turaco, secretary birds among others. It takes about 40 minutes’ drive to reach Arusha National Park from KIA. This park is highly preferred because it offers both single day visits and multi day visits to visitors from Arusha city. Arusha national park is composed a very scenic landscape with three distinct areas that are the Meru crater funneling the Jekukumia river in the west , Ngurdoto crater in the south-East and the shallow alkaline Momella lakes with varying algae colors in the north east. For the park having small area make it possible for clients to participate in all activities in the park and return bark to Arusha town for overnight.
Tanzania tours and Tanzania safaris are also part of the experience which tourists get as they visit Arusha national park . Arusha national park’s name is derived from the local Waarusha people who used to live in the area, great ecological system with many attractions which are highlights of the parks and the reasons why the park is a great tourist destination in the Tanzania . The park is dotted with three varied spectacular landscapes that is Meru crater funnels, Kekukumia River, peak of mount Meru on its rim in the west, Ngurdoto crater in the south-east, the shallow alkaline Momelia lakes in the north-east region of the park. Arusha national park is established with very rich Flora and fauna, tourists can engage in various activities at the park..

The History of Arusha National Park

The history of Arusha National Park dates back to 1876, when Count Teleki, a Hungarian, visited the Momella area, one of the park’s Tanzania attractions . After his visit, he commented on other aspects of the park, such as the large number of hippopotamus and black rhinos he had seen. The Trappe family moved into the park in 1907, particularly for the purpose of farming in Momella, and employed major portions of the current park as a cow ranch. Mrs. Trappe, the first woman in East Africa to become a professional hunter, willingly donated a substantial portion of the Momella estate to a game reserve. The farm was incorporated into the park when it was founded in 1960.
The park was formed in 1960 with only a few portions of the Arusha National Park, and it was known as the Ngurdoto Crater National Park at the time. It was established only to cover and conserve a few parts of the area, such as the Ngurdoto Crater, and Mount Meru, which was outside of the park at the time. The park’s name was changed from Ngurdoto Crater National Park to Arusha National Park in 1967 after the Mt. Meru area was included and became a part of it. The name Arusha comes from the Waarusha people who lived in the area at the time.
Following Tanzania’s independence, the park was officially established, and Mont Meru was added. The Tanzanian government invested and put effort into developing the park and making it one of the top destinations in Arusha, particularly for those planning safari tours to the Serengeti and Ngorongoro conservation areas. The Arusha national park now includes some of the most important tourist facilities, such as good entrance gates, picnic sites, vamping places, good bathrooms, lodges, and so on, allowing people to feel more at ease when visiting the park.
In the past, the park was almost completely covered in shrubs and forest-like environments, which supported only a few species that are browsers, such as giraffes, and game watching was a little more difficult than in other parks. Because of this, a mini Serengeti or little Serengeti was created within the park to assist other grazer species while also making game watching easier in that location. The area was created and named Min Serengeti because it is open plain grassland similar to the Serengeti national park habitats.
The mini Serengeti in the Arusha national park is an open grassland where various animals come to graze, including elephants, giraffes, buffaloes, zebras, warthogs, waterbucks, and others, which is a big attraction to tourists, and game viewing is well done at this place. Now the park has some of the best attractions to visit , from Mount Meru, which is the second largest mountain in Tanzania after Mount Kilimanjaro, to different habitat types, as the park has almost four types of habitats, and then to wild animals including the larger animals and small mammals, as well as different birds such as the forest birds and water-loving species, such as the flamingos, which are common and easily seen in the Momella lake inside the park.
Like other famous national park such as the lake Manyara, Mkomazi, Tarangire, Ngorongoro and Serengeti national park, the best time for visiting Arusha national park is during the dry season which starts from the May to almost November, on which at this time you will be able to do some of the Arusha national park tourism activities such as the game drives and animal viewing is the best at this time, also for those seeking in climbing mount meru this is also the best time for hiking the mount meru. For those who likes bird, the bird watching can be done all year round from both the low season which is rainy season and the dry season also.

Tourist Attractions in Arusha National Park

Wildlife

Arusha national park is ranked among the best destination to visit during Tanzania wildlife safaris in the northern safari circuit of Tanzania, the park is a home to a variety of wildlife species found in the various regions of the park such as the Ngurdoto crater (Little Ngorongoro), along the banks of Momella lakes, little Serengeti (Serengeti Ndogo) and Ujambo Wa Mbogo “buffalos glade”. Animals found in Arusha national park include giraffes, waterbucks, dik-diks, duikers, zebras, leopards, lion, spotted hyenas, elephants, bush pigs, red duikers, warthogs, hippos, black and white colobus monkeys, blue monkeys among others.

Birds

Arusha national park is an outstanding Tanzania birding safari destination boosting over 400 bird species recorded to live in the park, the birds in the park include forest species, raptors, water birds and migratory bird species. Birds found in Arusha national park include pink hued flamingoes, African fish eagle, African olive pigeon, Augur buzzard, Bar-tailed trogon, Bearded vulture, Black saw-wing, Cinnamon-chested bee-eater, Egyptian goose, Great crested grebe, Hammerkops, bronzy sunbirs, pied Avocet, red billed oxpeckers, great headed bush shrikes, pelicans, white browed coucals, golden eagles, yellow billed storks, Hartlaub’s turaco, Little grebe, Narina trogon, Peregrine falcon, Red-fronted parrot, Scaly francolin, Silvery-cheeked hornbill, Southern Pochard, Tawny eagle, Verreaux’s eagle among others
Some of the remarkable bird species in Arusha national park are the flamingoes which are spread along the Momela lakes.

Mount Meru

Mount Meru is magnificent physical feature and a landmark standing in the centre of Arusha national park and lies in the east of the Great Rift Valley, Mount Meru is an active volcano formed as a result of volcanic eruption standing at the height of 4,566 meters above the sea level thus being the second tallest mountain in Tanzania. Mount Meru features a base of 20 kilometers at 2000 meters and some of its walls at 2500 meters have broken away. is said to have been tallest volcano in Tanzania but because of the volcanic eruption its top broke off leaving behind a caldera, the volcano last erupted in 1910.
Mount Meru offers adventurous Tanzania mountain climbing safari, climbing Mount Meru is a very scenic and rewarding experience involving a dramatic walk along the knife-edge of the crater rim.

Momela Lakes

Momela Lakes are a chain of lakes found in northeast region of Arusha national park and a highlight for Tanzania tours in the park, this chain of lakes consists of 7 spectacular alkaline lakes formed as a result of volcanic debris from a huge explosion which blew away the top of Mount Meru about 250,000 years ago. Momela lakes are a great sites for Tanzania birding safaris as they are a habitant for numerous species of birds including the migrant greater pink flamingoes, Momela lakes include Big Momela, small Momela, El Kekhotoito, Kusare, Rishateni, Lekandiro and Tulusia. Momela lakes are fed by water from underground spring water and each lake has different water color ranging from green to turquoise. The different color of the lakes is because of the different mineral content in each lake, each lake has its own mineral composition making them different from each other and also different algae growing on the lakes. Momela lakes attract a large population of birds such as herons, shoe bill, pink flamingoes, Egyptian geese, guinea fowls, African fish eagles, African jacanas among others.

Ngurdoto

The Ngurdoto crater is a magnificent feature in Arusha national park and one of the five beautiful volcanic calderas found in the northern region of Tanzania of Arusha together with Ngorongoro, Empakaai, Maasai and Olmoti. Ngurdoto crater is an extinct volcano also referred to as “Little Ngorongoro” because of its striking resemblance to the Ngorongoro crater, the crater is of 3.2 kilometers in diameters and 300 meters in depth. The crater is shaped like a basin
and features very steep walls and covered with dense rainforests, the floor of the crater is dominated by marshy grasslands inhabiting buffaloes, elephants, warthogs, antelopes, monkeys, baboons, leopards, spotted hyenas, shy red duiker, kirk dik-diks and many bird species such as herons, head hammer, spur winged goose, hornbill, bee-eaters, Turacos among others.
Ngurdoto crater is an ideal site to visit during Tanzania Wildlife safari and unlike Ngorongoro crater which it resembles, the floor of Ngurdoto crater is soft making it impossible and unsuitable for driving and the crater is only explored on walking safari
Exploring Ngurdoto crater is done on walking safari and you reach the crater using a 4X4 safari vehicle to reach to the edge of the caldera which is surrounded by dense rainforest, walking through the Ngurdoto crater is an opportunity to watch many animals and bird

The Mini Serengeti

The Mini Serengeti , Commonly known as ‘Serengeti Ndogo’, a Swahili word for mini Serengeti, it is one of the grasslands within the Arusha National Park. It is about 500 meters north of Ngongongare gate, next to the road to Momella gate. It is home to various herbivores which come together for grazing. Such herbivores are buffaloes, zebras, warthogs, elephants and waterbucks. A morning ride to this place will give you a wonderful scene of a collection of herbivores grazing together. These herbivores are rarely seen during the noon time.
At mini Serengeti you will enjoy game viewing, walking safaris close to the animals and photographing with the animals at the background. It will you make you feel like you are the great Serengeti.

Ujambo Wa mbogo

Ujambo Wa Mbogo translated as “the buffalo’s glade” is a very striking Tanzania tourist attraction in Arusha national park located in the northeastern region of the park, a short distance west of the Momela gate and on the foothills of Mount Meru. Ujambo Wa Mbogo is an ideal site for Tanzania walking safaris in the park, Ujambo Wa Mbogo is a large natural glade consisting of marsh, bushes and streams serving as feeding ground for numerous species of animals such as buffaloes, giraffes, warthogs among others. The buffaloes are the highlight animals found in this site seen feeding on the long grasses of the area making it shorter, warthogs are also seen feeding in the pasture fields while resting on their knees.  Ujambo Wa Mbogo can be included on your Tanzania hiking safaris to Tululusia waterfalls.

Fig Tree

Fig Tree Arch in Arusha national park is an arch-shaped tree with an arch large enough for a tree or an elephant to pass through, fig tree is a spectacular photo point in Arusha national park offering many angles of amazing pictures such as standing under it or with your head of your safari vehicle while under the tree. Fig Tree grew from parasitic tree dropped by foraging birds and it is visited while on a Tanzania hiking safari to the Tululusia waterfalls.

Ngurudoto Museum

In this museum you will see different examples of animals which can be found within the Ngurudoto Crater and within Arusha National Park as whole. You will observe skeletons, remains, taxidermy and information about these animals. The museum do holds various plant species with all available information you would like to ask.

Tululusia hill

Tululusia hill is one of the beauties of Arusha National Park. It is Known for hosting elephants, buffalo, colobus and some tree-dwelling pythons, Tululusia hill is covered with vegetation, which decorates it with the green color. It is at this hill where you will meet Tululusia waterfalls. Falling from about 28 meters, such a large water falls for you to take a water-fall bath. The Tululusia water falls are also associated with falling pebbles. Therefore, you will have a chance to view Tululusia waterfalls at a distance.


Things to do in Arusha National Park

Game Drives

Game drive is one of the most done activities in Arusha national park . during the game drive you will follow different tracks in the open savannah grasslands such as the Serengeti Ndogo where you will be able to spot animals like Dik Dik, zebras, reedbucks, giraffes, bush pigs, red duikers, waterbucks, primates like black and white colobus monkeys, blue monkeys which will be viewed near Ngurdoto museum and if you are lucky you will spot predators like leopards, hyenas, wild cats among others. The roads in the park will lead you to Momella lakes and Ngurdoto crater where you will have spectacular views of different animals like hippos in water and others that gather along the shores to drink water. The game drive takes about 4 hours and its one of the interesting activities that shouldn’t be missed on your safari in the park

Mount Climbing

Mount Meru is the second highest mountain in Tanzania after Kilimanjaro, fifth highest in Africa standing at an elevation of 4566meters above the sea level which makes hiking the mountain an interesting and adventurous activity in Arusha national park. Mount Meru was once much higher but exploded outwards more than five hundred thousand years ago leaving a giant horse shoe shaped crater wall of steep cliffs and inside the crater minor Volcani eruptions have occurred creating a subsidiary peak called ash cone which offers great scenic views.
Hiking the mountain takes about three to four days to reach on the summit and some visitors say it’s more challenging and beautiful than Mount Kilimanjaro. During hiking you will pass through lower slopes, Ngarenanyuki river, waterfalls and have spectacular views of ancient fig tree forests, clear waters from the mountain streams, waterfalls, Momella lakes which are found close to the mountain foot, walk through habitats of different animals like zebras, buffaloes, cheetahs, leopards, bird species, primates like black and white colobus monkeys, short furred sykes monkeys, see farmlands and the Maasai herdsmen who graze their cattle on the lower slopes, fertile soils among others. While climbing the mountain you will have a sleepover at Miriakamba hut and when you reach the summit, you will have incredible views of Mount Kilimanjaro, ash tray and Mount Meru crater.

Canoeing

Arusha national park is one of the protected areas in Tanzania that offers the breathtaking canoe ride. Canoeing in the park is done on the small Momella Lake with the help of a well trained guide who will be paddling along the lake. During the canoe ride you will enjoy a peaceful and quiet ride and you will be able to spot different animals like hippos in water, bushbucks, waterbucks, giraffes, buffaloes, zebras among others on the lake shores, water birds like flamingos, pelicans, herons, fish eagles, take great pictures among others.

Guided Nature Walks

This is an adventurous activity that allows you to explore the park on foot. Arusha national park has fewer dangerous animals hence one of the best destinations for a guided nature walk. During the interesting nature walk you will follow trails
which pass below Mount Meru, Ngurdoto crater, Kitoto to Njeku viewpoint, Momella gate to Ikikoni, Tululusia waterfall and Ujambo wa mbogo area.
Nature walks in Arusha national park are carried out with the help of an experienced and armed park ranger as you pass through marsh bushes and streams where you will view beautiful scenery, landscapes, walk meters away from animals like giraffes, warthogs, buffaloes, zebras, listen to sweet sounds of bird speicies, breath fresh air, relax your mind, feel the cool breeze among others.

Bird Watching

Bird watching, Arusha national park is a home of over 400 bird species including endemic and near endemic species which makes it one of the best birding destinations in Tanzania. Birding in the park is best carried out on the alkaline Momella lakes and forests where birders will have incredible views of different bird species such as verreauxs eagle, augur buzzard, greater flamingos, little grebes, spur winged goose, secretary birds, African fish eagle, bar tailed trogon, black saw wing, bearded vulture, hartlaubs turaco, red fronted parrot, tawny eagle, narina trogon, Egyptian goose, African olive pigeon among others. During birding you will also be able to view some birds flying above Ngurdoto crater.

Horse Back Riding

Horse riding can also be carried out in Arusha park along the different trails in the national park and this activity is carried out prior to the visit in the national park. Tourists can also enjoy viewing the different wildlife species like giraffes, zebras among others while on horseback.


Accommodations in Arusha National Park

Some of the Arusha National Park accommodations which tourists can stay in during their visits to Arusha park include luxury accommodations, midrange accommodations and budget accommodations. There are also different campsites which tourists can stay at during their visits to this national park.Arusha national park is an exceptional tourist destination with many lodges and hotels offering a home away from home to visitors on a safari in the park, these include gran Melia Arusha, Le Jacaranda Hotel, Mrimba Palm Hotel, Boulevard Inn Mt Meru, Sinzia Villas, Venus premier Hotel, Green mountain hotel, Tulia boutique hotel, Mvuli hotels Arusha, mount Meru hotel, Rivertrees country Inn, Kili Vila, Lemala Vila, Mount Meru Game Lodge, Arusha Serena, Arumeru River Lodge, Fun Retreat Resort Hotel and Ayurveda Spa and many more.


How to get to Arusha national park

By Air : Arusha national park can be reached by road in that from Kilimanjaro international airport it takes about one hour drive to reach the park in a safari vehicle and about 40 minutes drive from Arusha town.
By Road : The national park can also be accessed by public means of road transport where buses travel daily from Arusha and Ngare Nanyuki village to Ngongongare gate. You can also hire a taxi from Arusha to the park.


Best time to get to Arusha national park

Arusha national park offers breathtaking safari experience which is best got at different periods of the year, game viewing safari in the park is best got in the dry season period which is in the months of June, July, August, September and October. In the dry season period the vegetation of the park is short giving you a chance to easily view the animals and game viewing trails are relatively short which makes it easy to drive through the park. For bird watching the best time to visit the park for the experience is in the months of November, December, January, February, March and April, in this period migratory bird species from Europe and North Africa are present in the park.