Located just a short drive from Arusha and Moshi, the Arusha National Park is Tanzania’s most accessible national park and the perfect place for a day trip or as the first or last stop on a longer itinerary. At just 552 square kilometres, it’s a small park with a lot to see.
With diverse wildlife that includes herbivores such as elephants, hippos, buffalo, zebra, and even the occasional wildebeest, Arusha National Park is also a perfect place to get out and stretch your legs – with both walking safaris and canoe safaris available within the park.
Arusha National Park is also home to the world’s largest population of giraffes, making it a great place to visit for fans of these long-necked, beautiful animals.
Arusha National Park boasts a broad variety of landscapes, ranging from open savannah through acacia scrubland to rainforest and, eventually, to alpine conditions on the higher reaches of Mt. Meru.
Arusha National Park Fact File
- Location: Approximately an hour to an hour and a half’s drive from Arusha. Approximately ninety minutes from Moshi.
- To Do: Game drives, walking safaris, canoe safaris, picnicking, and climbing Mt. Meru.
- Known For: Walking and canoe safaris. Day trip destination.
Best Time to Visit
Game viewing is at its best during the dry season from June to October.
The park is excellent year round for birding, and especially between November and April when migratory birds from Europe and North Africa are present and the local birds have their breeding plumage on display.
Arusha National Park’s highlights can be seen in a single day, and the park is the only park in Tanzania’s northern circuit in which a walking safari is possible.
Outstanding Wildlife Diversity
Due to the varied landscapes that exist within the park, there is an unusually high level of diversity when it comes to wildlife.
Not only is the park home to Africa’s largest giraffe population, but visitors can also expect to see water bucks, cape buffalo, elephants, blue monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys, turacos, trogons, and even the occasional lion or leopard in the right conditions.
The park also boasts an incredibly diverse variety of bird-life, making it a popular stop for birding enthusiasts.
Africa’s fifth highest mountain cuts a striking figure at 4,566m (14,990 feet). While Kilimanjaro is often shy and hides behind clouds, Mt. Meru is generally visible throughout the year.
An active volcano, Mt. Meru is also a popular climbing destination for visitors to Tanzania and a good introductory mountain for those wishing to climb Kilimanjaro. Not only does the climb offer a spectacular view of Kilimanjaro from the summit, but the hike itself is also an incredibly rewarding walking safari that takes you through multiple habitats where you can encounter giraffes, elephants, antelopes, and more
For those interested in climbing Mt. Meru, Safari Eyes can arrange climbing permits, armed ranger escorts, all camping equipment, and even stays at the Miriakamba or Saddle Huts if necessary.
Canoeing the Momella Lakes
The Momella Lakes within Arusha National Park are a series of seven shallow lakes: Big Momella, Small Momella, Kusare, Lekandiro, Tulusia, Rishateni, and El Kekhotoito. Alkaline lakes with considerable algae growth, each of these lakes is a different shade of green or blue.
While the water is not suitable for drinking, it is possible to see a variety of birds (including flamingoes) and animals such as water bucks, giraffes, zebras, and dik-diks in the surrounding area.
It is on Small Momella Lake that canoeing safaris are possible.
This swampy crater is inhabited by a large variety of animals and is a popular stop for game drives. Visitors can expect to see the Cape Buffalo, elephants, monkeys, baboons, warthogs, and a number of different antelope species here.
The crater is surrounded by the Ngurdoto Forest, a shady expanse that is home to playful black and white colobus monkeys.
Nearby is Serengeti Ndogu (Little Serengeti), an expansive grassland where herds of zebras can be seen throughout the year.
Overlooking the Ngurdoto Forest with its population of black and white colobus monkeys, the Ngurdoto Museum houses an impressive collection of examples of the various animals, birds, and insects that can be found within the park.
The only freshwater lake in Arusha National Park, Lake Longil is a popular watering hole for buffaloes and water bucks.
A former lookout point during tribal wars from Tanzania’s post, Tululusia Hill is today a popular hiking and camping area that affords visitors an excellent view of the lower reaches of the Arusha National Park as well as Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Meru.
This heavily forested region of the park is home to elephants, buffalo, colobus monkeys, the red duiker, suni, leopards, and even tree-dwelling pythons.
Fig Tree Arch
A distinctive natural arch formed by a fig tree, this intriguing feature of the landscape has grown into an arch large enough for a car or an elephant to pass under.