Arusha National Park (ANAPA) is a gem of varied ecosystems and spectacular views of Mt. Meru, the crater that gives the region its name
Arusha National Park is a small charming park, located in the northeast of Tanzania. It is near the city of Arusha and provides great views of the Mount Kilimanjaro. The park is a scenic and diverse park which offers a wide range of animal and plant species. And it also has a rich diversity of landscapes. From lakes, waterfalls and swamps to volcanos, mountains and tropical rainforest – the ideal reserve for all kind of animals. The swamps, rainforest and lakes attract many beautiful birds including silvery-cheeked hornbill and thousands of pink-hued flamingos.
This park is also the only place in northern Tanzania where you can easily spot the black-and-white colobus monkey. It is a popular destination for day trip visitors who are about to embark from the town of Arusha on longer northern circuit safaris. The small national park includes the slopes, summit, and ash cone of Mt. Meru, the Momella Lakes, Ngurdoto Crater, and the lush highland forests that blanket its lower slopes. Game viewing around the Momella Lakes is at a laid-back and quiet pace, and while passing through the forest many visitors stop to search for troupes of rare colobus monkeys playing in the canopy.
Mount Meru: Mount Meru is located within Arusha National Park. This dormant volcano is Tanzania’s second highest mountain at a height of 4,566 meters (14,990 feet). It is a beautiful, but challenging mountain to climb. The panorama views from the summit over the steppes of the park, Mount Kilimanjaro and the Momella Lakes are spectacular. A day hike on Mount Meru gives you another perspective and offers a nice change. Climbing Mt. Meru or enjoying the smaller trails that crisscross its lower slopes is a popular activity for visitors to Arusha National Park. The three-day trek to reach the crater’s summit is a quieter, and some say more challenging alternative than the famous peak of nearby Mount Kilimanjaro. Along the lower slopes, the paths to rivers and waterfalls create a relaxing day hike for visitors who don’t want to attempt the rather arduous climb. Ancient fig tree forests, crystal clear waters cascading from mountain streams, and a chance to spot colobus monkeys are the attractions and pleasures of Arusha National Park.
The closest national park to Arusha town northern Tanzania’s safari capital Arusha National Park is a multi-faceted jewel, often overlooked by safari goers, 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 colorful 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 Momella Lakes, each one having a different hue of green or blue. There are shallows sometimes tinged pink with thousands of flamingos. The lakes support a rich selection of resident and migrant waterfowl, and also shaggy waterbucks that display their large lyre-shaped horns on the watery fringes. Giraffes glide across the grassy hills, between grazing zebra herds, whilst 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 are 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, which is only 50km (30 miles) away.
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 neighbor, 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 highly 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.
552 sq km (212 sq miles).
Best time to climb Mount Meru.
The best time to climb Mount Meru is from June to March (occasional rains in November). You can enjoy the best views of Kilimanjaro from December till March. Contact us if you want to climb the second highest mountain of Tanzania, Mount Meru.