Arusha National Park covers an area of 542 sq. kilometers and lies between the peaks of Mountain Kilimanjaro and Mount Meru and ascends from 1500 meters at Momela to 4566 meters at the summit of Mount Meru. Initially, when established in 1960, the park contained Ngurdoto Crater and Momela lakes, until 1967 when Mt. Meru was made part of it.
The flora and fauna varies with the topography, which ranges from forest to swamp. The best time for visiting is during the dry season from July-March. The best months to climb Mount Meru are June-February (although there are some rains in November). On clear days magnificent views of Mount Kilimanjaro and Mt. Meru can be seen from almost any part of the park. The best views of Mt. Kilimanjaro are from December-February.
The Park is only 32 kilometers east of Arusha, 58 kilometers from Moshi and 35 kilometers from Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA). It is the nearest National Park to both Arusha and Kilimanjaro International Airport and is thereby an easy day trip. From the main road between Arusha and Moshi it is about 10 kilometers to reach Ngongongare Main entrance Gate.
The Park contains diverse resident populations of herbivores, primates and predators, animals such as Black and White Colobus Monkey, Baboons, Elephants, Giraffes, Buffalos, Hippos, Leopards, Hyenas, Waterbucks, Warthogs and a wide range of antelope species.
No lions in the park although you can see leopards if you are lucky. If you wish to walk on the Mount Meru (4566 m) sector of the park through a variety of landscapes, plains, forest moorlands, and a lava desert, it is compulsory to be accompanied by an armed game warden because of wild animals. From the summit of Mount Meru, you will have an impressive view of the crater and of the eruption cone 3000 meters below.
Arusha National Park is famous for its 400 species of bird life, both migrants and residents such as Red-sharks, Hammerkops, Spur-winged Geese, Herons, Woodpeckers, Grey- Parrots, Secretary birds and many more. The Momela Lakes offer plenty of bird-watching opportunities.
When to Visit
The Park can be visited throughout the year; however the weather is best between June and February. Short rains are normally experienced in November. There area no mosquitoes or tsetse flies n this park throughout.