Arusha National Park
Arusha National Park is a hidden treasure, the country’s second-oldest park (it was formed in 1960), and one of the smallest (its area is just 542) in Tanzania. An ecological mosaic rich in variety and fauna that is frequently overlooked in favour of its more well-known neighbours. Wonderful opportunities to discover nature await you at the Park. Unlike other parks on Tanzania’s northern circuit, it doesn’t have great vistas of the “big five,” but it does have great climbing and hiking on Mount Meru.
The park has a wide range of landscapes, from the lush wetlands of Ngurdoto Crater to the peaceful serenity of the Momela Lakes and the rugged alpine heights of Mt. Meru. There are zebras grazing on the park’s crimson meadows, and leopards hiding out by the waterfalls in the dense forest. Arusha National Park is home to unique primates like the black and white Colobus monkey as well as over 400 migratory and permanent bird species.
The summit of Mount Meru, an active volcano that last erupted almost a century ago, is 4566 metres above sea level, although the climb from its base is around 3100 metres. Ngurdoto caldera is the other prominent monument; it was created between 1 and 3 million years ago. The Momela Lakes in the region’s northeast were created by volcanic activity around 6,000 years ago. The ascent of Mt. Meru is gratifying, passing through forests of dripping Spanish moss and rising to an open heath peppered with huge lobelia plants. Delicate Klipspringer antelope observe hikers from the tops of massive rocks, while eternal flowers cling to the alpine desert under your feet. The view of nearby Mt. Kilimanjaro from the rugged peak is stunning at daybreak.
Each of the seven Momela lakes has a distinctively greenish-blue appearance due to its high alkalinity. Flamingoes populating these lakes also contribute to the colour scheme by introducing pink.
During the dry season (July to November) or after the brief rains (December to March), Arusha National Park is at its finest. Climbing Mount Meru is ideal between June and February while seeing Mount Kilimanjaro is best between December and February. The park is easily accessible within a day’s trip from either Arusha or Moshi since it is just 25 kilometers to the east of the city of Arusha.