Arusha National Park is one of Tanzania’s smallest parks and one of the most beautiful and spectacular. It has an area of 137 sq. km situated only 29 km from Arusha town. The Ngurdoto Crater, Momela Lakes, the highland montane forest and the rugged Mount Meru are four distinctive features of the park.
The varied and captivating fauna and floral found in the national park are to a large extent determined by the different altitudinal and geography of these zones. Animal life is abundant and includes colobus and velvet monkeys, red forest duikers, hippos, elephants, giraffes, buffaloes, bushbucks and sometimes the leopard. More than 400 species of birds have been recorded. The park is of the few parks that visitors are allowed to walk in; this unique attraction makes it possible for visitors to combine game drives and nature walk.
The Ngurdoto Crater stretching 3 km across, is a steep sided bowl, surrounded by riverine forest, while the crater floor is a lush swamp. The crater consists of a lot of animal trials which are clearly visible. It provides a natural sanctuary to many African animals, including elephant, African buffalo, a variety of monkeys and baboons, as well as birds like hamerkop, spur-winged geese and herons. The Momela lakes are shallow alkaline lakes and are made up of seven lakes which are: big Momela, small Momela, El Kekhotoito, Kusare, Rishateni, Lekandiro and Tulusia. All seven lakes are mainly fed by separate underground water sources. Due to the varying mineral content of these underground sources, each lake supports a different type of algae growth, resulting in uniquely different coloured lakes. Because these lakes are alkaline, they attract a wide variety of African bird life, particularly flamingos.
Visitors planning a safari to this northern circuit park can combine a few days walking safaris through the jungle and climb of Mt. Meru or just do a few days walking safari without the climb.
The best time to visit Arusha National Park is from July to September in the dry season and up to March although it may rain in November. Best views of Kilimanjaro December-February.
This is an easy 40-minute drive from Arusha town and approximately 60km from Kilimanjaro International Airport. The Momela lakes and Ngurdoto Crater can all be visited in the course of a half-day outing at the beginning or end of an extended northern safari.