542 sq km (209 sq miles).
Northen Tanzania, northeast of Arusha town.
How to get there
An easy 40 –minutes drive from Arusha. Approxiamtely 60km (35miles) from Kilimanjaro International Airport. The lakes, forest and Ngurdoto Crater can be visited in the course of a half-day outing appended to an extended safari through northern Tanzania. In order to ensure comfort, enjoyment, safety and security of tourists, Across Africa Nature provides dedicated 4X4 WD safari jeeps available 24/7 for the entire safari.
What to do there
Game drive, canoeing, walking safaris (through different vegetation and habitats), Mt Meru Climb (good acclimatization for Kilimanjaro) , view points and picnics.
When best time to visit
To climb Mt Meru, June-February although it may rain in November. Best views of Kilimanjaro December-February.
Where to Stay
Inside the Park are two private lodges, two resthouses, three public and two special campsites and two mountain accommodation center. Many private lodges lie just outside the Park and in Arusha town. Whether the client’s visit to Tanzania is for business or leisure, Across Africa Nature will always assist in planning and careful selecting the best and affordable places that provide enjoyment, fun and joy of exceptional accommodation and hospitality of Tanzanians.
Arusha in detail…
The closest national park to Arusha town – northern Tanzania’s safari capital – Arusha National Park is a 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 forest inhabited by inquisitive blue monkeys and colourful turacos and trogons – the only place on the northern safari circuit where the acrobatic black-and-white colobus monkey is easily seen. In the midst of the forest stands the spectacular Ngurdoto Crater, whose steep, rocky cliffs enclose a wide marshy floor dotted with herds of buffalo and warthog.
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. Giraffes glide across the grassy hills, between grazing zebra herds, while pairs of wide-eyed dik-dik 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 dawn 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 unassuming cousin, Mount Meru – the fifth highest in Africa at 4,566 metres (14,990 feet) – that dominates the park’s horizon. Its peaks and eastern footslopes 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 heath 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.