Arusha National Park Guide
This is the Arusha National Park Travel Guide. Don’t be fooled by the fact that Arusha National Park is small (552 km2). Within its borders, it has a diverse topography and wonderful wildlife. From the rugged peaks of Mount Meru to the marshy depths of the Ngurdoto Crater where warthog wallow, to monkey-filled montane forest and rolling grassy hills on which giraffe and zebra graze, there’s plenty to see here.
While the Arusha National Park doesn’t have the Big Five except for buffalo, it offers visitors spectacular scenery and sightings of a wide range of animals including monkey, giraffe, zebra and the sweetest antelopes on earth, the dik-dik. Add to that commanding views of Mount Meru, and Kilimanjaro on a clear day, it’s the perfect place to start your African safari. That is why we have prepared this Arusha National Park Guide.
Attractions in Arusha National Park:
In its many forested areas, it may be more difficult to spot wildlife, so be sure to keep your eyes peeled!
Arusha National Park includes Tanzania’s second-highest mountain, Mount Meru, with its rugged peaks and wooded foothills. Buffalo and giraffe can be seen here and, if you’re very lucky, the elusive leopard.
The main gate to the park opens into magical montane rain forest. This emerald area is a playground to a wide range of monkey that you may not see anywhere else, including the black-and-white Colobus and blue monkey. Look out, too, in the shadows beneath the trees for tiny duiker and dik-dik.
Arusha National Park location
An old volcano in the east of the park, Ngurdoto Crater stretches 3 km across and has steep sides and grassland and marsh in its bowl. There are a number of great viewpoints around its rim where you can stop to watch the warthog and buffalo grazing and wallowing below.
Seven alkaline lakes are found in the northeast of the park, each a different, brilliant colour, due to the algae that grow in them. Many water birds live there including, depending on the time of year, flocks of flamboyantly-pink flamingo.
Arusha National Park is an easy 40-minute drive from Arusha (25 km to the main gate), and about a half hour from Kilimanjaro International Airport (35 km to the main gate). Due to the small size of the park, all three main areas can be seen in a half-day trip, but a full day with a picnic lunch and a guided walk is a far more relaxed way to do it!
Arusha City Highlights:
How to get to Arusha National Park
Arusha NP is only a 45-minute drive away from the town of Arusha, the starting point of any safari in northern Tanzania.
There are several ways to get to Arusha. The easiest is to get a direct flight to Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO), which is situated about 46km/29mi from Arusha. Alternatively, you can fly to Julius Nyerere International Airport (DAR), near Dar es Salaam and get a connecting domestic flight to Arusha Airport (ARK) or Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO).
In most cases, your tour operator will pick you up from the airport and take care of further transportation.
Places to stay for Arusha National Park
There are several budget options in Arusha, including The African Tulip and the Impala Hotel.
Kibo Palace Hotel: A large hotel with a pool and restaurant, and it is a great option if you are looking for a place to stay after an international flight or the night before a safari.
The African Tulip: A quaint boutique hotel which offers an airport shuttle. Most of the upmarket hotels can be found in the eastern area of Arusha. The Gran Melia Arusha offers fantastic views of Mt Meru, a well-stocked bar, a spa, and a pool.
Onsea House: A charming boutique guesthouse that was originally a farmhouse. It has two swimming pools, a sauna, a steam room, and a jacuzzi, and its gardens are tranquil.