Arusha National Park is one of the northern safari circuit national park, it was established in 1960 and it is very popular for day trips.
One of the unique attractions of this park is the ability to combine game drives and nature walk, i.e. visitors can leave their safari vehicles and walk in the fresh air in most of the park’s sites.
The park is 552 square kilometres (212 square miles) by size and it has a number of attracting sites including the spectacular Ngurudoto Crater, Momela Lakes, the high land mountain forest, and the rugged mount Meru, which is 4,575 meter above sea level.
The closet national park to Arusha town-Arusha National Park is multi-faceted jewel, often overlooked by safarigoers, despite offering the opportunity to explore a beguiling diversity of habitats within a few hours.
The entrance gate leads into shadowy montane forests inhabited by inquisitive blue monkeys and colourful teracos and tragons-the only place on the northern safari circuit where the acrobaticblack-and-white colobus monkey is easily seen.
In the midst of the forest stands the spectacular Ngurudoto Crater, whose steep, rocky cliffs enclose a wide marshy floor doted with herds of buffalo and warthogs.
Further north, rolling grassy hills enclose the tranquil beauty of the Momela Lakes, each one a different hue of green or blue.
Their shallows sometimes tinged pink with thousands of flamingos, the lakes support a rich selection of resident and migrant waterfowl, and shaggy waterbucks display their large lyre-shaped horns on the watery fringes.
Geraffes glide across the grassy hills, between grazing zebraherds, while pairs of wide-eyed dik-dak dart into scrubby bush like overgrown hares on spindly legs.
Although elephants are uncommon in Arusha National Park, and lions absent altogether, leopards and spotted hyenas may be seen slinking around in the early morning and late afternoon.
It is also at dusk and down that the veil of cloud on the eastern horizon is most likely to clear, revealing the majestic snow-capped peaks of Kilimanjaro, only 50 kilometres (30 miles) distant.
But it is Kilimanjaro’s unassuming cousin, Mount Meru-the fifth highest in Africa at 4,566 meters (14,990 feet)-that dominates the park’s horizon.
Its peaks and eastern foot-slopes protected within the national park,Meru offers unparalleled views of its famous neighbour,while also forming a rewarding hiking destination in its own right.
Passing first through wooded savannah where buffalos and giraffes are frequently encountered, the ascent of Meru leads into forests aflame with red-hot pokers and dripping with Spanish moss, before reaching high open health spiked with giant lobelias.
Everlasting flowers cling to the alpine desert, as delicately-hoofed klipspringers mark the hike’s progress. Astride the craggy summit, Kilimanjaro stands unveiled, blushing in the sunrise.
About Arusha National Park; size: 552 square kilometre 212 square miles). Location: Northern Tanzania, northeast of Arusha town.
Getting there! An easy 40 – minute drive from Arusha. Approximately 60 Kilometres (35 miles) from Kilimanjaro International Airport.
The lakes, forest and Ngurudoto Crater can all be visited in the course of a half-day outing at the beginning or end of an extended northern safari.
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