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Arusha National Park

Arusha National park is located in the northern Tanzania, northeast of Arusha town covering a geographical size of about 137square kilometers (52.9 sq miles) mainly with three landscapes that is Mount Meru, Ngurdoto crater and the Momella lakes.

According to the guide book the European past of the park goes back to 1876 when Count Teleki, a Hungarian, stayed at the Momella area. He commented on the vast number of hippopotamus and black rhinos he had seen. Miserably, the latter are now no longer found in the park. In 1907 the Trappe family relocated to Momella to farm, using large areas of the present park as a cattle ranch. The elder Mrs. Trappe, the first woman to become an expert hunter in East Africa, voluntarily set aside a large part of the Momella land for a game sanctuary. Arusha National park was established in 1960, as well the farm was incorporated into it and the Ngurdoto Crater National Park was established in 1960 and Mt Meru area also became part of the park in 1967. The name of the park was then transformed to Arusha National Park and it was derived from the indigenous Waarusha people who used to live in the area. The tribe were of Pare origins who used to live in the Kilimanjaro area. They first reached in the now Arusha area in the 1830’s where they lived into the Selian area of town. Most of the people at the time there were Maasais. The Waarusha tribe took on a lot of the Maasai traditions but they are still very different. We agree the Waarusha still speak the same language as the Maasai but they agriculturalists whereas the Maasai have remained pastoralists. The Waarusha pride themselves on being productive farmers and even though they have been farming the same land for generations, they still manage to keep the land fertile through protection of the soil and conservation of nature.Named after the bustling town of Arusha, northern Tanzania’s self-styled ‘safari capital’, this 137 sq. km national park is among the most misunderstood in Tanzania, protecting a diversity of habitats ranging from open lakes and rolling grassland to Afro-montane forest and moorland. The main feature is the rough Mount Meru, an extinct volcano whose altitude of 4,566 metres makes it the fifth highest mountain in Africa. The game-viewing roads also offer splendid views westward to Kilimanjaro, whose snow-capped peak, only 50km distant, often emerges from its cloudy shroud in the late afternoon. Ultimate outstanding for its lush sceneries and splendid scenery, Arusha National Park makes for an ideal half-day outing at the beginning or end of an extended safari in northern Tanzania. Game viewing doesn’t compare to the region’s best-known parks – of the so-called Big Five, elephant and leopard are scarce, and lion and rhino absent altogether – but specialists will find much to taste, from the colobus monkeys that swing flexibly through the forest canopy, to the flocks of flamingo that tinge the lake margins pink.

How to get to Arusha National Park

The park is just a few kilometers north east of Arusha, though the main gate is 25 km east of the city. The park covers a distance of 58 km from Moshi and a distance of 35 km from Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA)

A 40-minutes’ drive from Arusha. Roughly 60km from Kilimanjaro International Airport. The lakes, forest and Ngurdoto Crater can all be visited in the course of a half-day outing at the beginning or end of an extended northern safari.

Arusha is served by two airports namely Kilimanjaro International Airport that does regular flights to Amsterdam with KLM, to Addis Ababa, Dar es Salaam, Zanzibar and Nairobi. There is also a taxi ride that costs USD50 and as well airlines run shuttle service for free or USD10.

Arusha Municipal Airport (ARK) is on the borders of the city but only runs local flights, mostly to Zanzibar and Dar es Salaam, and charters. Air viva offers regular flights between Arusha and Dar es Salaam, Zanzibar and Kilimanjaro.

Arusha can be accessed by express coach from Nairobi (Kenya, 6h, daily 08.00 and 14.00 from in front of Parkside Hotel, USD35), Dar es Salaam (12h), and Kampala (Uganda, 17h) with direct services also available from Mwanza, Tanga and Lushoto. Other companies provide first-class tickets which are slightly more relaxed although it is worth noting that standards are generally comparable with most African bus services. Moshi can be reached in about one hour. There are various shuttle buses between Arusha and Moshi which are more comfortable than coaches. Some of these shuttles can be booked in advance. Visas-on-arrival are available at Kilimanjaro International Airport for USD50, or USD100 for some nationalities.

When to go

To climb Mt Meru, June-February although it may rain in November.
Best views of Kilimanjaro December-February.

It is greatly suitable to visit during the summer season from the months March to July if you are planning to be outdoors. If you’re just there to go sightseeing, Mt. Kilimanjaro is at its best between December thru February.

Ngurdoto Crater is a volcanic crater in Arusha Region, Tanzania. The crater is 3.6 km (2.2 mi) in diameter at its widest and 100 meters (110 yd.) deep. Ngurdoto Crater is surrounded by forest whilst the crater floor is a swamp and located in Arusha National Park. The crater is thrilling tourist attraction on its own. A caldera of a nonexistent volcano, Ngurdoto has a loop road that allows tremendous views down into the lush crater interior. Visitors can drive up to the crater rim through the misty forest inhabited by the quick black and white colobus monkeys that are the symbols of the park, Leopards are the main predator in this area and, weirdly, there are no lions apart from the odd sightseer. Driving along the high points on the Crater edge provides a stunning view of the forests, glades and animal tracks that abound in this lush habitat. Additionally, Tanzania has again added a new aspect into its already well-known tourism industry. It has just introduced a new tourist product a walking safari around the ream of the world prominent Ngurdoto Crater at Arusha National Park.

Momella lakes

The Momella Lakes in the north-east of the park were formed by depressions in the drying mud. These lakes are mainly fed by secretive streams and are not very deep. They are acidic, meaning they are salty and animals do not use them for drinking and they contain few fish, but various micro-organisms can raise in alkaline water. That is why these lakes’ ridges are occasionally marked pink with thousands of lesser flamingos, as seen on postcards and guide book photos. Despite fewer flamingos the lakes still support a rich selection of local and migrant waterfowl, which include many sacred ibis. Their mainly white body, black tail, bare black neck and head and large recurved bill make them easily identifiable. It is always amazing to listen to arguably Africa’s best known sound, the unique call of a fish eagle announcing its presence. Near the lakes, there are always bird species like white-browed coucal, a colorful grey headed kingfisher and many helmeted guinea fowl, which were only some of the 575 species of birds already documented in the park. The birding is outstanding and really pleasing, even though your safari was not on birding you actively be forced to get interested in the bird species along the Momella lakes. The landscape around Momella Lakes is usually grassland. A canoeing safari is another tourist activity in this national park and is conducted on one of the Momella Lakes, known as “Small Momella”. Canoeing on the Momella lakes present a closer understanding of animals that are not easily seen on an ordinary game viewing safari.  Again there are lots of giraffes and the cattle-like smell of fresh buffalo droppings drooped in the air unlike other national parks where they are rarely seen because they graze in thickets. Wonder at the prettiness of the Momela Lakes while observing the giraffes, zebras, and hyenas, and take in amazing views of the snow-capped peaks of Kilimanjaro and the beautiful Mount Meru before returning to Arusha.

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.

Mount Meru

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.

Where to stay while at Arusha National Park

Loads of tourist lodges appropriate to all budgets are spread around Arusha town and along the road linking the town to the national park. For lengthier visitation, the park is serviced by a superb luxury camp, a midrange lodge and a number of campsites

Ngurdoto Mountain Lodge is situated in Arusha, this golf hotel is 8.1 mi (13 km) from Kilimanjaro Golf Club and 11.9 mi (19.1 km) from Arusha National Park. Arusha Golf Course and Mt. Meru are also within 16 mi (25 km) Along with 3 restaurants, this hotel has a golf course and an outdoor pool. Free full breakfast, free Wi-Fi in public areas, and free self-parking are also provided. Additionally, a bar/lounge, a coffee shop/café, and an outdoor tennis court are onsite. All 348 rooms boast jetted tubs and offer free Wi-Fi and balconies or patios. Sitting areas and minibars are standard, as are flat-screen TVs with satellite channels. The lodge has got a luxurious bar/lounge offering excellent stocked drinks, wines, spirits, cocktails and as well with free available in all rooms. Their staff is well qualified, friendly and welcoming and provide the best quality to their hosted guests and as well the rooms present excellent scents and are well vanished.

Arusha coffee lodge

Arusha Coffee Lodge is situated fairly a few minutes separate of the city center and built in one of the largest coffee plantations. The chalets are set in a coffee plantation and are nicely spaced out. The rooms are decorated to a high standard and some offer outdoor tubs and showers. This lodge’s nearness to Arusha Airport makes it an ideal choice for those with early morning flights and located for both holiday visitors and business travelers. While at the lodge, visitors can enjoy and experience nature, wildlife, habit and habitat of the fauna and flora in the natural areas. The facility presents a collection of 30 furnished rooms featuring a living room and a private deck, mini bars as well as a restaurant that provides different and special cuisines. The lodge has got a swimming pool business center, wireless internet connection and a gift shop.

The Arusha Hotel is situated by the well-known Clock Tower (halfway between the Cape and Cairo) in the center of the Arusha banking and commercial district, 50 minutes’ drive from Kilimanjaro International Airport and 10 minutes from Arusha Airport. The Arusha is ideal for both business and holiday visitors. The Arusha crows 86 stylishly appointed rooms including 4 suites, 25 executive rooms and 57 standard rooms, all with en suite bathrooms, air acclimatizing, mosquito nets, international direct dialing, wireless internet, tea & coffee making facilities, satellite television, desk & chair. The hotel has a restaurant and bar that provide classic food and beverages both international and local, safari casino, a swimming pool that gives the views of Mount Meru, a gym, a curio shop, a business center, 3 conference rooms and abundant garden grounds where a pavilion can be set for receptions.

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