Arusha National Park
The acrobatic black and white Colobus monkeys welcome you as you pass through Arusha’s main entrance gate. From the lush green swamps surrounded by thick forest in the Ngurdoto Crater, up through the scenic beauty of the Momela Lakes, each a startlingly different hue, through to the chilly alpine like tundra on Mount Meru, Arusha National Park is a gem of a park, although very accessible, it is surprisingly not heavily visited by tourists. Explore the diverse and changing landscapes, hike along scenic mountain and forest trails and view huge masses of wildlife in this quaint and charming park.
There are three major attractions in the park. First is the Ngurdoto Crater, which is sometimes called “mini Ngorongoro”. Secondly, there are the Momella lakes, which are shallow alkaline lakes which get their water from underground streams. Finally, there is the spectacular Meru Crater. Mount Meru (14,990 feet) is described as “one of the most rewarding mountains to climb in Africa”. Visitors can climb the mountain, or organize walking safaris. The park also provides great views of Mt. Kilimanjaro and Mt. Meru on clear days. The remains of a large volcano, the Ngurdoto Crater is a steep sided bowl of lush swamps and riverine forest, which is home to elephant, buffalo, warthog, baboon, reedbuck, Colobus monkeys and duikers. Mosses, ferns, lichens and orchids thrive in the damp atmosphere of the crater, giving way to huge mahogany, olive and date palm trees on the drier crater walls. The tranquil beauty of the Momela Lakes brings to the park a wide variety of bird-life (over 380 species) including flamingos, waterfowl, African pochard, ibis, heron, egrets, colorful turacos and trogons. The rocky crags of Mount Meru sees a large number of birds of prey and you may be lucky enough to spot lammergeyers, a large, rare bird of prey, floating on the up draughts from the crater. Other game includes hippo, giraffe, zebra, antelope, blue monkey, dik-dik, reedbuck, klipspringers, leopard, and spotted hyena.
Ngurudoto Crater (Little Ngorongoro)
Black and white Colobus Monkey
Mount Meru (14,990 feet) and the Meru Crater
Activities in Arusha National Park:
Game drives, walking safaris with an armed ranger (required for walking safaris), bird watching along the 7 Momella soda lakes, cultural tourism outside the park gate (visit a Maasai and Meru tribes village), Ngurdoto Crater
Lodge, campsites and hotels in Arusha town. Also, this park is close enough to Moshi to be visited easily as a day trip.