When compared to other national parks in the northern safari circuit, Arusha National Park is relatively small in size. Despite this apparent disadvantage, it's small size and close proximity to Arusha make it ideal for one-day trips either on arrival or upon departure from Tanzania. Furthermore, the park contains spectacular landscapes capable of offering a good selection of experiences to its visitors. The three most significant features of ANP are the rugged Mount Meru (Tanzania's second highest mountain, standing at 4566m, or 15,000ft), the 3km wide Ngurdoto Crater and the Momela Lakes, which are known for having waters of different shades from each other.
Mount Meru is the second highest mountain in Tanzania, and fifth highest on the continent. The legend goes that this mountain used to be the tallest in Africa, dwarfing the nearby Mount Kilimanjaro, however a volcanic eruption broke the top off millennia ago reducing both it's height and status. Despite no longer being the tallest, it is still one of Africa's most rewarding climbs, featuring a spectacular scenery and guaranteed wildlife encounters. All trekkers are accompanied by armed game reserve rangers at all times, so there is no need to be concerned about safety around the animals. The climb to the peak typically takes three days and is said to be an even more challenging trek than Kilimanjaro. However challenging though, trekkers will be rewarded with a stunning view of the ash-cone filled caldera within its crater, as well as a scenic view of the surrounding landscape.
If long treks are not your ideal activity, do not despair as Mount Meru hosts smaller trails along its lower slopes which can be completed in a matter of hours. Along these routes you will find paths to rivers and waterfalls which create a relaxing day hike for visitors who will see, among other things, ancient fig tree forests, crystal clear waters cascading from mountain streams, and perhaps even the native colobus monkey.
Ngurdoto crater, nicknamed "little Ngorongoro Crater", is a steep-sided bowl stretching 3 km's across and surrounded by a lush forest. The crater floor is a natural sanctuary to many animals in the form of a swamp - you will be able to see many animals such as elephants, a variety of baboons and several monkey colonies from the crater rim. It is however prohibited to visit this fragile ecosystem, either by car or by foot. If you look to the west whilst standing on the crater rim, you will be able to see "little Serengeti" (Serengeti Ndogo), a large grassland plain with many sights of zebra grazing.
The Momela Lakes
The Momela Lakes are a collection of seven shallow, alkaline lakes found in Arusha National Lakes. These are:
- Lake Longil
- Lake Rishateni
- Lake Tululusia
- Lake Jembamba
- Lake Elkekhotoito
- Small Momela Lake
- Big Momela Lake
The lakes are fed by large underground streams which not only support wide variety of wildlife in the park, but provide water with different mineral content that support the growth of a variety of algae. This affects the colour of the water, giving each lake it's own unique tinge and attracts several species of birds. Flamingos are especially known to travel to these lakes in large numbers.
Best Time to Travel
All year round.