Arusha – A jewel at Mt. Meru’s feet
Arusha National Park, one of Tanzania’s smallest national parks, is imminently accessible and offers a taste of the country’s broader highlights on a manageable scale. Located just 45 minutes out of Arusha, the Park’s breathtaking scenery combines mountain forests and scenic lakes with savannah and alpine moorland. It is usually the first stop on a northeastern Tanzanian safari itinerary.
Although an Arusha safari offers a more low-key wildlife experience than some of the other National Parks in the area, it is home to a large population of giraffe, blue monkey, and black and white colobus monkey, zebra, warthog, buffalo, zebra, elephant, and bushbuck amongst many other species. Birdlife is also prolific at this small oasis, with an exceptionally diverse population of forest-dwelling varieties.
Arusha’s sheer scenic beauty is unparalleled and will stop you in your tracks. Feel free to sit and ponder the scenery at leisure, but there is plenty on offer for the more active visitor. Take a day trip to the 100-meter deep Ngurdoto Crater, a verdant natural sanctuary for the resident elephant and buffalo, or, if time allows trek to the summit of the majestic Mount Meru volcano, the fifth highest peak in Africa. On this three or four-day hike some climbers have been lucky enough to spot one of the Park’s rarely seen leopard or cheetah slinking into the undergrowth. The Park also offers game drives, bush camping, and canoe trips across the area’s natural lakes. All of this, with Mount Kilimanjaro towering regally in the background.
A safari at Arusha pairs well with longer itineraries on the northern safari circuit, like the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and Serengeti National Park, or even just as a post-safari to round off an Mt. Meru ascent.
Best Time to Visit Arusha
Arusha’s mild climate makes for good safari potential for most of the year, apart from during the ‘long rains’ from March to May. From June to October, the dry season is cool and pleasant providing optimal viewing, while January, February, November, and December still present fair viewing opportunities amongst the greenery.
Close enough to Arusha to be day-trip accessible
Arusha National Park is home to the planet’s largest population of African giraffes.
The Park’s readily available guided canoe trips and walking safari packages offer up-close wildlife encounters.