Arusha National Park can tempt all monkey interested people that want to see either the curious blue monkeys or the acrobatic Colobus Monkeys. In addition to the wildlife in the crater and canoeing on one of the colourful flamingo filled lakes, this is the best place if you want to get the supreme view of both Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Meru.
This national park is special because of: the instinct Ngurdoto volcano, the dormant volcano Mount Meru, the view of Mount Kilimanjaro, Momella Lakes, river canoeing and the black-and-white colobus monkey.
You can easily combine Arusha National Park with: Serengeti, Ngorongoro, Lake Manyara, Tarangire and Mkomazi.
The entrance gate leads you into a mountain forest. You may easily meet up with the naturally nosy and curios blue monkeys in addition to colourful turacos and trogons.
If you are interested in the monkeys, this national park is the only place where you easily meet up with the acrobatic black and white colobus monkeys.
In the middle of the forest you reach the spectacular Ngurdotu Crater (Wiki). It is steep and with rocky cliffs, even though,- the floor of the crater are full of herds of buffalos and warthogs.
When you move to the north of the park, and you get to the rolling grassy hills, you are soon reaching the beauty of the Momela Lakes.
The amazing view of these lakes, all in different shades of green or blue, filled with thousands of pink flamingos.
By these lakes you can use a lot of time, just to explore the surrounding wildlife. The lakes support a rich selection of resident and migrant waterfowl, and shaggy waterbucks display their large lyre-shaped horns on the watery fringes.
This national park will not give you the satisfaction of seeing the elephants or lions, but you might be lucky to meet with the leopard or the spotted hyena wondering around in the morning or late afternoons.
It is also at dusk and dawn that the veil of cloud on the eastern horizon is most likely to clear, revealing the majestic snow-capped peaks of Kilimanjaro, only 50km (30 miles) distant.
Although, it is Kilimanjaro’s more unknown cousin, Mount Meru – the fifth highest in Africa at 4,566 metres (14,990 feet) – that dominates the park’s horizon.
From the foot of Mount Meru you will first pass through the wooded savannah where you can see a lot of buffalos and giraffes. Where the mountain starts raising you will see the forests aflame with red-hot pokers, dripping with Spanish moss, before reaching high open heath spiked with giant lobelias.
Everlasting flowers clinging to the alpine desert, as delicately-hoofed klipspringers mark the hike’s progress. Astride the craggy summit, Kilimanjaro stands unveiled, blushing in the sunrise.
Northern Tanzania, northeast of Arusha town.
How to get there:
The 60 km drive from Kilimanjaro international airport will take you about 40 minute. The first 30 km you will be driving on the comfortable tarmac road, but there after be prepared for the rough road. After all you are going to the “bush”! Arusha National Park is a natural extension of your safari in the northern Tanzania. You can manage to see the lakes, forest and the Ngurdoto Crater, all in one day, and maybe the exclusive mountain views.
What to do:
Here you can go for the safari by car, forest walks, canoeing on one of the lakes, or enjoying a nice picnic lunch in the free. The adventurous once may also go for the three- or four-day Mt Meru climb – which is good acclimatisation trip for Mt Kilimanjaro.
When to go:
All year is a good time to drop by Arusha National Park, except from April. To climb Mt Meru, June to February is best, although it may rain in November. Best views of Kilimanjaro are between December to February.
More lodges at Usa River outside the park and many hotels and hostels in Arusha.