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.

  • An easy 40-minute drive from Arusha
  • Diverse fauna and flora
  • Montane forest filled with monkeys, including the rare Colobus monkey
  • On a clear day, spectacular views of both Mount Meru and Mount Kilimanjaro
  • Mount Meru, which can be climbed (four-day, guided hike)
  • The beautifully-coloured alkaline Momela Lakes
  • Great view points and picnic sites
  • Guided walking tours
  • Canoeing
  • Prolific birdlife

While 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.

In its many forested areas, it may be more difficult to spot wildlife, so be sure to keep your eyes peeled!

Mount Meru

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.

Rain forest

The main gate to the park opens into magical montane rain forest. This emerald area is a playground for a wide range of monkeys 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.

Ngurdoto Crater

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.

Momela Lakes

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 here including, depending on the time of year, flocks of flamboyantly-pink flamingos.

Getting there

Arusha National Park is an easy 40-minute drive from Arusha (25 km to the main gate), and about half an 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!

Mount Meru

Scaling challenging Mount Meru is considered ideal preparation for climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.

Kilimanjaro Eco Lodge

Eco Lodge with spacious accommodation that offers good value for money.

Hatari Lodge

Spacious rooms and villas with views of Mount Meru, Mount Kilimanjaro or Momella.

Mount Meru Looks Down on Arusha, Tanzania

Situated at the foot of the beautiful Mount Meru, Arusha is known as the safari capital of Tanzania's Northern Safari Circuit. It's a bustling city filled with an interesting mix of markets, chaotic traffic, old colonial buildings and modern conveniences, like coffee shops with WiFi, and an array of great restaurants.

Lake Manyara National Park
Africa Travel Guide Lake Manyara National Park Tanzania Flamingo Game Drive

The spectacular alkaline Lake Manyara forms the centre point of this small and very beautiful park with surprisingly diverse fauna and flora. A circuit drive through the park passes through forest, wetlands, grassy plains and acacia forests, offering views of different animals and multitudes of birds. Elephant, hippo, giraffe, tree-climbing lion and baboon are just a few of the game that call Manyara home.

Empakaai Crater

On an Empakaai Crater hike, you can expect to see buffalo, hyena, blue monkeys and the occasional elephant.

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