Arusha National Park is a small national park close to Tanzania’s capital Arusha. It is a popular destination for a day trip often on visitors first day in the country and providing the starting point for safaris in Tanzania. The park includes Mount Meru, the fifth highest mountain in Africa, which forms a picturesque backdrop to the park. On clear mornings when clouds clear the park also offers some of the best views of nearby Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa.
The park includes the Ngurdoto Crater in the forest which is a mini Ngorongoro crater where the plains below are home to herds of Buffalos and Zebras. Elephants are seldom seen and there are no Lions in the park, but the forests are home to elusive Leopards which are seldom seen.
There are many climbing and hiking trails which visitors can explore. There is a three-day hike to the crater summit which some climbers feel is more challenging a summit than famous nearby Mount Kilimanjaro. Much of the game viewing centres around the lush shores of Lake Momela. These crater lakes each have a different colour in shades of blue and green and are very picturesque.
Visitors first pass through wooded savannah, where Buffalos and Giraffes are frequently encountered. Then the ascent of Meru leads into forests aflame with red-hot pokers and dripping with Spanish moss, before reaching highly open heath spiked with giant lobelias.
The lush highland forests on the lower slopes offer less challenging trails through ancient forests crisscrossed with streams and waterfalls which make for a very scenic morning walk. These lower slopes of Mount Meru are home to troops of black and white colobus monkeys playing in the canopy.
Access: How to get to Arusha National Park
The Arusha National Park is a 45-minute drive away from the town of Arusha which is the main starting point of any safari vacation in northern Tanzania. Most tourists will fly into Kilimanjaro International Airport which is situated 46km from Arusha or Arusha Airport. Another option is to fly via Julius Nyerere International Airport in Dar es Salaam.
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