Attractions and what tourists can venture into while at Arusha National Park
Arusha National Park has an amusing diversity of wildlife, but visitors shouldn’t expect the same game-viewing experience they find in other national parks of Tanzania’s northern circuit. Despite the small size of the park, communal animals include giraffe, cape buffalo, zebra, warthog, the black and white colobus monkey, the blue monkey, flamingo, elephant, lion and many other African animals. Leopard populations are present, but seldom seen. Birdlife in the forest is productive, with many forest species more easily seen here than elsewhere on the tourist route – Narina trogon and bar-tailed trogon are both possible places of interest for visiting birders, while the range of starling species provide somewhat less flashy interest.
Bottom of FormThe neighboring national park to Arusha town – northern Tanzania’s safari capital – Arusha National Park is a multi-faceted jewel, often disregarded by safari goers, despite presenting the chance to discover a captivating diversity of habitats within a few hours.
The entrance gate leads into mysterious montane forest inhabited by snooping blue monkeys and colorful turacos and trogons – the only place on the northern safari circuit where the energetic black-and-white colobus monkey is easily appreciated. In the midst of the forest stands the remarkable Ngurdoto Crater, whose steep, rocky cliffs enclose a wide muddy floor dotted with herds of buffalo and warthog.
Further north, continuing grassy hills encircle the relaxing beauty of the Momela Lakes, each one a diverse kind of green or blue. Their ridges sometimes colored pink with thousands of flamingos, the lakes support a rich collection of resident and migratory waterfowl, and hairy waterbucks display their large lyre-shaped horns on the moist fringes. Giraffes float across the grassy hills, between grazing zebra herds, while pairs of wide-eyed dik-dik dart into light bush like overgrown hares on skinny legs.
Although elephants are rare in Arusha National Park, and lions absent completely, leopards and spotted hyenas may be seen tiptoeing around in the early morning and late afternoon. It is also at sunset and start that the veil of cloud on the eastern horizon is most likely to clear, revealing the majestic snow-capped peaks of Kilimanjaro, only 50km (30 miles) distant. But it is Kilimanjaro’s humble cousin, Mount Meru – the fifth highest in Africa at 4,566 meters (14,990 feet) governs the park’s horizon. Its peaks and eastern foot slopes protected within the national park, Meru offers matchless views of its famous neighbor, while also forming a rewarding hiking destination in its own right.
Passing first through forested savannah where buffalos and giraffes are regularly encountered, the climb of Meru leads into forests ablaze with red-hot pokers and saturated with Spanish moss, before reaching high open heath spiked with giant lobelias. Endless flowers hang to the mountain desert; as delicately-hoofed klipspringers mark the hike’s progress. Across the rough summit, Kilimanjaro stands unveiled, flushed in the sunrise.
Because of the diversity of plant surroundings, there are many different genres of animals and over 400 species of birds that live there. Captivatingly enough, there are no lions in the zone. There are different types of bucks living near the water including bushbucks, reedbucks and waterbucks. Besides these, there are also hyenas, warthogs, elephants, monkeys, buffalos and zebras.
Some of the most popular attractions at this park include the Ngurdoto and Meru Craters, lakes of Momela and Mount Meru. The Momela lakes are well-known bird-watching spots for tourists. You can also go canoeing there while appreciating the setting. Mount Meru is a volcano mounted by thrill seekers and adventurer seeking people. Those who dare climb the mountain’s summit will be blessed with the perfect sights that can be seen.
This depressing mountain, known by the Maasai as Ol Doinyo Orok, meaning the “black mountain”, dominates Arusha town, the national park and surrounding countryside by towering over them. Its tempers can change overnight and during the winter months the mountain is visible above the clouds. Mount Meru is Africa’s fifth highest at 4 566 m above sea level. Its summits and eastern base hills are sheltered within the national park. Meru offers supreme views of its famous neighbor, Kilimanjaro, but is also a rewarding hiking destination in its own right. Its last minor eruption occurred around 1877. Since then activity has been minor, with small tremors happening occasionally. Climbers mountaineering Mount Meru depart from the Momella Gate. This provides a real African experience, but also makes visitors realize how vulnerable mankind is in this environment. Because of the theoretical absence of lions, Arusha National Park also initiated the increasingly popular one-day walking safaris. The big – and dangerous – game such as elephant and buffalo still roam the park. Even passing lions have been seen twice in the past decade or more, while private leopards are ever-present. Arusha National Park is the only place on the northern safari circuit where the energetic black-and-white colobus monkey is easily spotted. Colobus monkeys are extremely handsome animals, notable by long flowing hair that forms a white mantle around the body, and by their bushy white tails. Actually they look like little hairy men in dress shirts and tailcoats. The young are initially all white, changing color after three months. They live in family herds with one adult male and several females. Young males leave the group, forming new troops or becoming solitary. The ancient forest home of black-and-white colobus monkey living outside the park is susceptible by logging operations and banana Shambas. This in turn intimidates the animals’ feeding grounds. Whereas the Big Five symbolize the spirit of the African savannah, primates bring the forest into concentration. They are the smiling, arguing, flying lords of this field. Without them the excessive equatorial forest would be unresponsive. Without the forest, they would become confined, sad monkeys or pot roast. Some visitors are pleased when visiting Arusha National Park on their African safari when they are tired of viewing the large species. They are amazed by its varied prettiness which includes scrubland, forest, lakes, craters, ash cone and Mount Meru. It is important to note that mountain climbing permits duration time is 12 hours.