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Arusha National Park

Arusha National Park

Arusha National Park also known as “the diamond amid the shadows of giants” is situated on the foot prints of mountain Meru, the second highest mountain in Tanzania after Kilimanjaro and a prominent volcano with height of 4566m, near Arusha town in north eastern Tanzania. The park boosts for being home to Tanzania’s second highest mountain and fifth in Africa and home to the highest number of giraffes despite its being small.

Arusha National Park

The park is one of Tanzania’s easily accessed national parks because its only 60 km from mountain Kilimanjaro and its on a 300 km axis of Africa’s most popular national parks that’s Serengeti and Ngorongoro crater in the west and Kilimanjaro National Park in the east. its main entrance is just 25 km from Arusha town, 58 from Moshi and 35 km from Kilimanjaro International Airport easing its access. The park derives its name from the nearest city Arusha.

The Park covers an area of 137 sq km (53 sq mi), the park offers the best wildlife view compared to all the parks in the northern circuit with incredible wildlife species, vegetation cover like lush rainforest, savannah, alpine vegetation on the higher reaches of mount Meru. it is also a very scenic landscape with 3 distinct areas including peak of mount Meru on its rim, Meru crater funneling the Jekukumia river in the west of the park, Ngurdoto crater in the south-East with grassland and the shallow alkaline Momella lakes with different algae colors in the northeast and famous for their wading birds. Despite its small size, the park has great wildlife densities with wildlife like cape buffaloes, elephants, hippos, zebras, dik-dik, giraffes found almost every where in the park, leopards, duikers, warthogs, bushbucks, primates like red colobus monkeys, vervet monkeys, blue monkeys etc. the park also is a habitant to different bird species like grey crowned crane, Narina trogon, bar-tailed trongon flamingos, African fish eagles, Hartlaub’s turaco, secretary birds to mention but a few. Since the park is near town the lions moved elsewhere and leopards hide in the bushes.

History of arusha national park 

The park was established in 1960 as Ngurdoto Crater National Park mainly to conserve areas like Ngurdoto crater, mount Meru and others. It was later remained as Arusha National Park in 1967. Arusha National Park derives its name from the Waarusha people who were residents of the area at that time. Since independence the government has put in more effort in conserving the park and putting it to the standard of even becoming the top destination in Arusha, in the process a mini Serengeti was formed in the park with plain grassland similar to that of Serengeti National Park.

History of arusha national park 

Arusha national park wildlife

The park is small in size but very gifted with wildlife in various regions of the park like Ngurdoto Momella lakes, little Serengeti (Serengeti Ndogo), Buffalos glade (Ujambo Wa Mbogo) and wildlife include the largest number of giraffes in the world, zebras, leopards, spotted, dik-dik, warthogs, duikers, waterbucks, elephants, cape buffaloes, bush pigs, hippos, red duikers. Primates include black and white colobus monkeys, blue monkeys etc.

Bird Species in Arusha national park

The park is an outstanding park favoring over 400 bird species recorded in the park including forest species, Raptors, water birds, migratory bird species. Like Pink hued flamingoes, African fish eagles, African olive pigeons, Egyptian goose, Hamerkops, bronzy sunbird, little grebe, Scaly francolin, Hartlaub’s turaco, yellow billed stork, Bearded vulture, Tawny eagles, black saw-wing, Verreaux’s eagle, Silver- cheeked, Red-fronted parrot, Peregrine falcon, pied Avocet, Red billed oxpeckers, Cinnamon-chested bee-eater among others.

Attractions in Arusha nationals park

Mountain Meru

Mountain Meru is found in Arusha National Park, it is a dormant strato Volcano at the height of 4566 meters. The mountain is the fifth highest mountain in Africa and the second highest in Tanzania after Mountain Kilimanjaro. The mountain features slopes and has a summit cone with a symmetric caldera which takes 3 days to hike which is breathtaking hiking safari.

Mountain Meru

Momella Lakes

Momella Lake is another great attraction in Arusha National Park, the lakes are seven and there are small and big Momella Lakes which are alkaline in nature namely El kekhotoito, Kusare, Rishateni, Lekandiro, Tulusia and more, these lakes attract bird species like the lesser and greater flamingos, pelicans, African fish eagles, crowned eagles, falcons among others. Activities that are done at the lakes include birdwatching and canoeing.

Momella Lakes

Ngurdoto Crater

Ngurdoto Crater is one of the magnificent features situated in Arusha National Park, the crater is extinct and as a result of volcanic activity it is a 3 kilometers steep-sided bowl surrounded by riverine forest and a lush swamp on the crater floor. Wildlife species that can be spotted on the crater include buffalos blue monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys, elephants, antelopes and more wildlife.

The Mini Serengeti

The mini Serengeti is a small wildlife viewing area for Tanzania Wildlife Safari, it is a small Savannah site also known as Serengeti Ndogo it is a habitant to wild animals that can be seen on game viewing safari in Arusha National Park like giraffes, buffaloes, plain zebras and more.

Ujambo Wa Mbogo

Ujambo Wa Mbogo is a very striking tourist attraction in Arusha National Park, it is situated in the northeastern region of the park, the word  Ujambu Wa Mbogo means “ the buffalo’s glade” it  is situated on the foothills of mount Meru a walkable distance from the Momela gate entrance, it is a great place for walking safaris in the park covered with large natural glade consisting if marsh bushes and streams serving as feeding grounds for numerous wildlife species like giraffes, warthogs, buffaloes and more.

Fig Tree

Fig tree is and arch-sharped tree with an arch large enough for an elephant to pass through, Fig tree is place in Arusha National Park offering spectacular photo points with many angels of amazing pictures. Visit this amazing fig tree which grew from parasitic tree dropped by foraging birds, it usually visited while on a Tanzania hiking safari to the Tululusia waterfalls.

Activities in Arusha National Park

Game Drives

Game drive is a great tourist activity in the park like any other wildlife park, the park has vast populations of wildlife animals particularly giraffes. The game drive can be done in the morning, afternoon and evening game drive and even night with early morning game drive being the most effective because most of the wildlife are easily spotted as they come out to grab an early morning breakfast, the drives are done in Serengeti Ndogo.

Mountain Climbing

Mountain Climbing is done on Mount Meru standing at 4566 meters above sea level, this fifth mount in Africa offers an amazing mountain climbing experience in Tanzania, along the hike tourists will be in position to sight colobus monkeys red tailed monkeys among others.

Canoeing

Canoeing is done on momella lake, it is one off the best activities done in Arusha National Park, travelers get a chance to drift along the shallow waters of Momella Lake and enjoy scenic views of the surrounding area and wildlife especially at the shores as they drink and dip.

Guided Nature Walk

Arusha National Park is one of the best Tanzania Safari parks to enjoy guided walking safari. The does not have as many predators as other well-known in Tanzanian Parks hence making it a safe place to carry out a nature walk guided by an armed experienced guide who is well versed with the park trails. Trek through the various forest and savannah vegetation cover in the park while observing the various wildlife in Arusha National Park.

Bird Watching

Arusha National Park is an amazing place to go for a bird watching destination with over 400 bird species like Pelicans, little grebe, duck and waders’ flamingos, hornbills and so much more can be seen while bird watching in Arusha National Park.

Note 20% of the park entrance fee is reserved for the communities into wildlife reserves. The money supports local people in their projects.

How to get to Arusha national park by road

Arusha National Park is just a 45 minutes’ drive from Arusha town, the park is accessed form various cities and other destinations. It is 48 km from Moshi city, 35 km from Kilimanjaro international airport. There are well maintained routes from Arusha town leading to the park.

By Air;

The park can be accessed by two airports that is Kilimanjaro international airport handling flights from all over the world and Arusha Municipal airport situated on the border of the city and handles flights to Zanzibar and Dar es Salaam.

The air flights to the park are offered by Viva and other companies in Arusha town.

Best time to visit Arusha national park

Arusha National Park can be visited all year round like all other National Parks in Tanzania, though the best time being the dry season in the months of June to September and December to March, the other months are rainy but are a great time to visit for travelers on a budget because all things are cheap to attract tourist.

Accommodation in Arusha national park 

Arusha National Park has got many accommodation facilities ranging from luxury, mid-rang and budget accommodation situated both with in the park and in Arusha town like Ngurdoto mountain lodge, Arusha coffee lodge.

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