Arusha National Park
- Size: 552 sq km (212 sq miles)
- Location: Northern Tanzania, northeast of Arusha town.
- Getting There: An easy 40-minute drive from Arusha. It is approximately 60 km (35 miles) 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.
- What To Do:Forest walks, numerous picnic sites. three- or four-day Mt Meru climb – good acclimatization for Kilimanjaro.
NOTE: Mountain Climbing Permits duration time is 12 HOURS.
Further north, rolling grassy hills enclose the tranquil beauty of the Momela Lakes, each one having a different hue of green or blue. There are shallows sometimes tinged pink with thousands of flamingos. The lake is a reliable source of water and supports a rich variety of resident and migrant species including the waterfowl and shaggy waterbucks. The grassy hills and scrubby bushes also attract animals like zebras, giraffes, wildebeests, dik-diks.
Elephants are a rare species in Arusha National Park, even rarer are the lions, however leopards and spotted hyenas may be seen slinking around in the early morning and late afternoon. The dusk and dawn in the time of the day when there will be no trace of clouds on the eastern horizon and you’ll have an unparallel view of the snow-capped peaks of Mt. Kilimanjaro, located only 50 km away from here.
But it is Kilimanjaro’s unassuming cousin, Mount Meru – the fifth highest mountain in Africa at 4,566 metres (14,990 feet) – that dominates the park’s horizon. With its peaks and eastern foot slopes protected within the national park, Meru offers unparalleled views of its famous neighbour, while also forming a rewarding hiking destination in its own right.
As you pass through the wooded savannah, you’ll encounter herds of buffalos and giraffes grazing in the lush environment. The ascent of Meru will lead you to forests aflame with pokers and Spanish moss, and then into the open heath land seemingly 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.