Arusha National Park – All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go (with Photos & Videos)

Arusha National Park is a protected area located in northern Tanzania, near the town of Arusha. Established in 1960, it covers an area of approximately 552 square kilometers (212 square miles) and is one of the smaller national parks in Tanzania. Despite its size, Arusha National Park is known for its diverse landscapes and wildlife.


The park is dominated by the presence of Mount Meru, the second-highest peak in Tanzania after Mount Kilimanjaro. Mount Meru offers trekking opportunities, and the ascent is popular among hikers. This is a prominent feature in the park, and it is often referred to as the “Little Ngorongoro.” The crater is surrounded by lush forest and provides a habitat for various wildlife.

When visiting Arusha National Park, it’s essential to check the current regulations, as they may vary. The park provides a unique blend of natural beauty, wildlife, and outdoor activities, making it an attractive destination for nature enthusiasts and those looking to experience the beauty of Tanzania’s northern circuit.

Arusha National Park

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Where is Arusha National Park Located?

Arusha National Park is located in northern Tanzania, near the city of Arusha. The park is situated approximately 37 kilometers (23 miles) east of Arusha town and covers an area of about 552 square kilometers (212 square miles). The proximity of the park to Arusha makes it easily accessible for visitors, and it serves as a popular starting point for Tanzania safaris to other well-known destinations in northern Tanzania, such as Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Conservation Area. The park’s location at the foothills of Mount Meru provides a diverse range of ecosystems, including montane forests, crater lakes, and grasslands, contributing to its rich biodiversity and scenic beauty.

Arusha National Park

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What to Adventure in Arusha National Park?

Arusha National Park offers a variety of adventures and activities for visitors, combining natural beauty, wildlife viewing, and outdoor pursuits. Here are some key activities to enjoy in Arusha National Park:

  1. Mount Meru Trekking
  2. Game Drives
  3. Canoeing on Momella Lakes
  4. Walking Safaris
  5. Ngurdoto Crater Exploration
  6. Bird Watching
  7. Cultural Heritage Sites
  8. Picnicking and Relaxation

Before embarking on any adventure in Arusha National Park, it’s advisable to check with park authorities for the latest information on regulations and safety guidelines. Additionally, guided tours are recommended for activities like trekking and Tanzania walking safaris to ensure a safe and informative experience.

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Mount Meru Trekking

Trekking Mount Meru is a popular adventure for those seeking a challenging climb and stunning views in northern Tanzania. Mount Meru stands at 4,566 meters (14,967 feet) above sea level, making it the second-highest peak in Tanzania after Mount Kilimanjaro.

The trek to the summit typically takes about 4 to 5 days, depending on the chosen route. This is the most common route for trekking Mount Meru. The Momella Route takes you through diverse landscapes, including forests, open grasslands, and rocky terrain.

This route joins the Momella Route at the saddle between Little Meru and Mount Meru. It provides panoramic views of Mount Kilimanjaro and the surrounding area.

Always check with Deks Tours for the latest information, safety guidelines, and regulations before embarking on a Mount Meru trek. Hiring Deks Tours ensures a more enjoyable and safe experience.

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Game Drives in Arusha National Park

Game drives in Arusha National Park offer a unique Tanzania safari experience, allowing visitors to explore the diverse landscapes and encounter a variety of wildlife.

Arusha National Park is known for its resident population of giraffes. You may encounter both Maasai giraffes and the endangered Rothschild’s giraffes. Large herds of Cape buffaloes can often be spotted in the park.

Plains zebras are common in the grasslands of the park. The Ngurdoto Crater, often referred to as the “Little Ngorongoro,” offers scenic views and the opportunity to spot wildlife along the crater rim.

Remember to check with Deks Tours your Tanzania safari operator for the latest information and guidelines before embarking on a game drive in Arusha National Park.

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Canoeing on Momella Lakes

Canoeing on Momella Lakes is a unique and tranquil activity offered in Arusha National Park. The Momella Lakes, a series of shallow alkaline lakes, provide a scenic backdrop for canoeing, and the experience allows visitors to enjoy the natural beauty of the park from a different perspective.

The Momella Lakes are known for attracting a variety of water birds, including flamingos, herons, egrets, and kingfishers. Canoeing offers a quiet and non-disruptive way to observe these birds in their natural habitat.

The lakes are surrounded by lush vegetation, and the canoeing experience allows you to appreciate the diverse landscapes of Arusha National Park. Canoeing provides a peaceful and serene way to explore the lakes, offering a break from the more traditional Tanzania safari activities like game drives.

Canoeing on Momella Lakes provides a peaceful and immersive way to connect with nature, making it a great addition to the overall Tanzania safari experience in Arusha National Park. As always, consult with Deks Tours for the most up-to-date information and to make the necessary arrangements.

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11 Days East Africa Safari

Walking Safaris in Arusha National Park

Tanzania Walking safaris in Arusha National Park offer a unique and intimate way to experience the natural beauty and wildlife of the park. Walking safaris allow visitors to get up close to nature and observe wildlife in a more intimate setting compared to traditional game drives.

On foot, you can appreciate the smaller details of the park, including various plant species, insects, and birdlife that might be missed during a vehicle safari. Guided Tanzania walking safaris are led by knowledgeable guides who provide insights into the park’s ecology, animal behavior, and conservation efforts.

Arusha National Park boasts diverse landscapes, from montane forests to open grasslands. Nature walking safaris enable you to immerse yourself in these scenic environments.

Nature walking safaris in Arusha National Park offer a different perspective and a more immersive experience with nature. As always, consult with Deks Tours for the most up-to-date information, safety guidelines, and to make necessary arrangements for a memorable Tanzania walking safari.

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Ngurdoto Crater Exploration

Exploring the Ngurdoto Crater is one of the captivating experiences within Arusha National Park in Tanzania. Ngurdoto Crater is a volcanic crater within the park, and it’s often referred to as the “Little Ngorongoro.” The crater was formed by volcanic activity and erosion.

The crater has a diameter of about 3 kilometers (1.86 miles) and is surrounded by lush vegetation, creating a picturesque setting. The rim of the Ngurdoto Crater offers panoramic views of the crater floor and the surrounding landscapes. It’s a fantastic spot for photography and taking in the natural beauty of the area.

Exploring Ngurdoto Crater is an enriching experience that allows visitors to appreciate the geological history and natural beauty of Arusha National Park. Always check with Deks Tours for the latest information, safety guidelines, and any specific regulations before embarking on a Ngurdoto Crater exploration.

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Bird Watching in Arusha National Park

Arusha National Park is a paradise for birdwatchers, boasting a diverse range of avian species. The park’s varied ecosystems, including montane forests, open grasslands, and the Momella Lakes, create an ideal habitat for numerous bird species.

The Momella Lakes attract flamingos, particularly the Lesser Flamingo. These striking birds add a vibrant touch to the landscape. Various waterfowl species inhabit the lakes, including herons, egrets, kingfishers, and storks. The diversity of aquatic habitats supports a rich array of birdlife.

Keep an eye out for raptors such as eagles, hawks, and vultures soaring in the skies above the park. The montane forests within the park are home to a variety of forest birds, including turacos, barbets, and various species of sunbirds.

Arusha National Park’s rich birdlife makes it an excellent destination for birdwatching enthusiasts. Whether you’re a seasoned birder or a beginner, the park’s diverse ecosystems provide a rewarding and enjoyable birdwatching experience.

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Africa Birding Adventure Holidays

Cultural Heritage Sites

Arusha, being a gateway to many of Tanzania’s national parks and wildlife destinations, doesn’t have as many traditional cultural heritage sites within the town itself. However, there are cultural experiences and sites in the broader Arusha region that offer insights into the local culture and heritage.

Many Maasai communities live near Arusha, and some offer cultural tours where visitors can experience traditional Maasai life. This may include visiting a traditional Maasai boma (homestead), learning about their customs, dances, and crafts, and interacting with the community.

  1. Maasai Cultural Tours
  2. Arusha Declaration Museum
  3. Old German Boma
  4. Local Markets
  5. Village Visits
  6. Cultural Events and Festivals
  7. Historical Churches and Mosques

While Arusha may not be known for extensive cultural heritage sites within the city, the surrounding region offers diverse opportunities to explore and appreciate the cultural richness of Tanzania.

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Tanzania Africa Travel

Picnicking and Relaxation

Arusha National Park provides several designated areas where visitors can enjoy picnicking and relaxation surrounded by the park’s natural beauty. Here are some tips and information for picnicking and relaxation in Arusha National Park:

The Momella Gate area is a common starting point for many activities in the park, and it also features a designated picnic site. This area offers a picturesque setting for a meal, surrounded by the lush landscapes of the park.

Situated near the Ngurdoto Crater, this picnic site provides an excellent vantage point for enjoying views of the crater. It’s a peaceful spot for relaxation and taking in the natural surroundings.

Located in the more remote sections of the park, Tululusia offers a quieter and more secluded setting for picnics. It provides an opportunity to enjoy nature in a tranquil environment.

Picnicking in Arusha National Park provides a wonderful opportunity to combine outdoor dining with the natural splendor of the park. Whether you’re taking a break during a safari or spending a leisurely day in the park, picnicking allows you to appreciate the beauty of Tanzania’s landscapes.

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Best Time to Visit Arusha National Park

The best time to visit Arusha National Park in Tanzania depends on your preferences and the type of experience you are seeking.

Dry Season (June to October)

  • The dry season is generally considered the best time to visit Arusha National Park. During this period, the weather is dry and cool, making it more comfortable for activities like game drives, trekking, and other outdoor adventures.
  • Wildlife viewing is excellent during the dry season as animals tend to congregate around water sources, making them easier to spot.

Wet Season (November to May)

  • The wet season in Arusha National Park is characterized by intermittent rains. While the park can be lush and green during this time, wildlife may be more dispersed as water sources are abundant throughout the park.
  • Bird watching is particularly rewarding during the wet season, as migratory birds are present, and the Momella Lakes attract a variety of waterfowl.
  • Trekking and hiking conditions may be more challenging due to muddy trails, but the landscapes are vibrant and beautiful.

March to May – Peak of the Long Rains

  • March to May marks the peak of the long rains in Tanzania. During this period, heavy rainfall can lead to muddy and slippery trails, making outdoor activities more challenging. Some lodges and camps may also close during this season.
  • If you are interested in bird watching and lush green landscapes, the wet season can still offer a unique and beautiful experience.

June to October – Peak Tourist Season

  • The dry season from June to October is the peak tourist season in many Tanzanian parks, including Arusha National Park. During this time, the weather is generally dry, and wildlife viewing is excellent.
  • Popular activities like climbing Mount Meru, game drives, and bird watching can be enjoyed in optimal conditions during this period.

In summary, the dry season (June to October) is generally recommended for optimal conditions, but each season has its unique advantages. Consider your priorities, such as wildlife viewing, trekking, or bird watching, when planning your visit to Arusha Park. Always check with Deks Tours for the most up-to-date information and conditions.

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A List of Safari Lodges in Arusha National Park

Lodging options can change, and new accommodations may have been established since then. Therefore, it’s advisable to check with recent sources like travel websites, booking platforms, or directly with Deks Tours for the latest information on Tanzania safari lodges in Arusha Park.

However, I can provide you with a general idea of the types of accommodations you might find around Arusha National Park. These can range from luxurious lodges to more budget-friendly options.

  1. Ngurdoto Mountain Lodge
  2. Hatari Lodge
  3. Arusha Serena Hotel
  4. Lake Duluti Serena Hotel
  5. Mount Meru Game Lodge & Sanctuary
  6. The African Tulip Hotel

To find the most up-to-date and detailed information about specific lodges in and around Arusha Park, you may want to check with Deks Tours that specialize in Tanzania safaris in the region. Additionally, the official website of Arusha National Park may provide information on accommodation options within or near the park.

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How to Get to Arusha National Park?

Getting to Arusha National Park typically involves traveling to the town of Arusha, which serves as a gateway to the park. Arusha is well-connected by air, road, and even by bus.

By Air

  • Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO): The nearest international airport to Arusha Park is Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO). Many international flights land here. Once at the airport, you can take a taxi or arrange for a pre-booked transfer to Arusha town.
  • Arusha Airport (ARK): Arusha also has a domestic airport, Arusha Airport (ARK), which is closer to the town. Some domestic flights operate to and from Arusha Airport. Taxis and airport transfers are available for the journey from Arusha Airport to the town or directly to the park.

By Road

  • From Kilimanjaro International Airport: Taxis and shuttle services are available at Kilimanjaro International Airport to transport visitors to Arusha. The journey takes approximately 1 to 1.5 hours.
  • From Arusha Town: Arusha National Park is located about 37 kilometers (23 miles) east of Arusha town. You can hire a taxi or use a pre-arranged transfer to reach the park’s entrance.

Whether you choose to fly into Kilimanjaro International Airport, use domestic flights to Arusha Airport, take a bus, or rent a car, the journey to Arusha National Park offers various options to suit different preferences and travel styles.

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