Location and Size of Arusha Park
Northern Tanzania, known as the world’s safari capital plays host to one of the worlds most multi-faceted yet often overlooked Tanzania safari parks which is Arusha Park. Located just a 40 minute drive northeast of Arusha town, Arusha national Park is approximately 552 square km. Despite its small size in comparison with other national parks in the area, the Arusha National Park boasts spectacular landscapes and prolific birdlife making a visit the highlight of a Tanzanian holiday.
Special Features of Arusha Park
The park consists of three particular areas. To the West the Jekukumia River is funnelled by the Meru Crater with the peak of Mount Meru lying on its rim, which next to Mount Kilimanjaro is the second highest peak in Tanzania. In its South-East lies the Ngurdoto Crater the entirety of which is grasslands. To the North-East of Arusha are shallow lakes of alkaline in an area called Momella that boasts a stunning array of colours and are famous for the wading birds that call the lakes home.
The entrance to Arusha park is directly through a dense forest, home to colourful turacos and blue monkeys. Arusha Park is also unique in that it is the only location in which the acrobatic Colobus monkey can be easily spotted. Also, the Ngurdoto crater with its steep and rocky precipices and wide marshy ground teeming with large herds of wild buffalo is a sight to behold. The rolling lush green hills enclose the tranquil Momella lakes in ethereal beauty. Some of which filled with flamingos giving the lakes a pink hue to the shallows. The park is also home to giraffes and grazing zebras not to mention pairs of dik-dik who dart into the bushes like wild hare on gangly legs.
Why Go To Arusha Park
Despite the lack of Elephants and lions in Arusha National Park, elusive Spotted Hyenas and Leopards can occasionally be seen wandering around the late afternoons and in the early mornings. The dawn and dusk are times that bring into focus one of Arusha Park’s most famous spectacles, the slumbering giant that is Mount Meru. When a veil of cloud descends on the parks eastern horizon lifts, the majestic peak of Mount Meru dominates the skyline. It is the fifth highest mountain peak in Africa, standing at 14,990 feet, Mount Meru’s eastern slope falls within the park’s boundaries. It offers a stunning vista only dwarfed by its majestic cousin, the always snow-capped peak of Mount Kilimanjaro. This stunning view of Africa’s most famous mountains makes it an exceedingly rewarding journey for hikers.
Apart from its stunning vistas and varied fauna, the Arusha National Park also boasts an incredible array of flora. After visitors pass through the entrance of the wooded savannah, with its giraffe and buffalo herds, the ascension of Mount Meru lets you into a forest festooned with Spanish moss and red pokers. It then expands into an open heath lined with the giant lobelias and the Everlasting flowers are studded around the alpine desert and the hiker’s progress is marked by the klipspringers’ delicate hooves. Once astride the summit, hikers are treated to the breath-taking splendour that is Mount Kilimanjaro, standing unparalleled, glistening in the sunrise.
When To Go / Weather in Arusha Park
The ideal time to visit the Arusha Park is during June to September as October and November bring rain, and it is at its breathtakingly best during the dry season when Animals are easier to spot. It is, of course, because the animals gather at watering holes while this time and vegetation are somewhat thin. Also, noteworthy is the fact that as it is sunny and dry with little chance of rain there are fewer mosquitoes and little or no chance of catching Malaria. During the dry season, it is notable that the mornings and nights can get cold as such visitors are encouraged to pack warm clothing for these times of the day and night.
The wet season in the Arusha National Park is also an excellent time to visit if one is an ornithology enthusiast. During this period (from November to May) Arusha National park is less crowded due to fewer visitors and is flush with migratory birds as they pass through the park.
The general climate around Arusha National Park is usually pleasant and mild even during the dry season from June to September. Temperature during the day is around 21 C/700 F and skies are sunny and clear. Night time temperature drops to a low of around 110 C/520 F. There are also infrequent cold fronts where temperatures may drop to near freezing. The park also has two distinct wet seasons, i.e. the “Long rains” from March to May and the “Short Rains” from October to November. The months of the “long rains” are the wettest in the Arusha National Park where daily showers are a common occurrence. The rains in October and November are more infrequent and unpredictable and are more of the “shower” variety compared to the “deluges” of the “Long rains.”
Extra Information about Arusha Park
Getting to Arusha Park is relatively an easy task. The park is a mere drive of 40-minutes from the Arusha town and around 35 miles from Kilimanjaro National Airport. Once there, a visit to the forest, lakes, and the Ngurduto crater is the ideal outing of half a day to kick off, or end an extended Tanzanian safari. The park also boasts a number of picnic sites for visitors making it the perfect destination for day outings. For mountain climbing and hiking enthusiasts, a three to four-day climb of Mount Meru is excellent practice and training to get acclimatised for an ascent of Mount Kilimanjaro.
The Arusha National Park also has in park accommodation, consisting of two lodges, two rest houses, and multiple camp sites. The park also has two mountain huts for those who prefer to stay in the vicinity of Mount Meru. There are plenty of accommodation options outside the Arusha National Park as well. Visitors can avail themselves of such options as the lodges at Usa River and the many hotels and hostels in Arusha town itself.
Much like Tanzania’s other parks and reserves, Arusha National park are very safe and secure, and visitors are free to move about. The only other people, visitors will encounter, are the park employees, tour operators and other tourists. Visitors are also encouraged to take adequate precautions against Malaria and vaccinations advised along with anti-malarial medications and mosquito repellent. The risks associated when viewing wildlife can also be minimised by following the advice of park employees and tour guides and awareness of standard wildlife viewing safety precautions.