Overview – Arusha NP
Though very accessible, Arusha NP isn't on many safari itineraries. This is mainly because it doesn't offer a chance of seeing the Big 5. The park is at the base of Mount Meru, which is good for climbing. It has a range of habitats including forest – home to the black-and-white colobus monkey – and is excellent for birding.
Pros and Cons
- Very scenic with different habitats, including forest
- Views of Mount Kilimanjaro
- Excellent birding with about 400 species, including forest birds
- Close to Arusha and accessible for a day trip
- Canoeing safari is offered
- Off-the-beaten track and not crowded
- Most of the major safari animals aren't present or aren't easily seen
Wildlife viewing in Arusha NP is more low-key than in the other parks in northern Tanzania. Animals that are easily seen include buffalo, giraffe and several antelope species. More exciting is the black-and-white colobus monkey that lives in the forest, and the large number of bird species. Several lakes often host flocks of flamingo.
The park's appeal is mainly its scenery. The habitat diversity spans from montane (mountain) rainforest to moist savannah to alpine moorland. The most prominent landmark is Mount Meru. Other highlights are a massive extinct volcano and several scenic lakes, with Mount Kilimanjaro in the background on a clear day.
Weather & Climate
Arusha’s mild climate sees average daytime temperatures ranging from 21°C/70°F to 26°C/79°F. The Dry season (June to October) is the coolest time of year, getting downright chilly before sunrise. Rug up if you’re doing an early game drive. The Wet season (November to May) has two periods of rainfall with a dry spell in between. But it’s only during the so-called ‘long rains’ (March to May) that downpours might hamper your safari.
Best Time to Visit
You can practically freeze at night in Arusha during the drier months (June to October) when the occasional cold front sweeps through. But that’s the only real challenge of visiting at this time. The wildlife watching is at its best, and the sunshine at its brightest. The wetter months mainly appeal to those keen to see the arrival of migratory birds.
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Philip is an acclaimed travel writer and author of many guidebooks, including the Bradt guides to Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya and South Africa.
Below Mount Meru
This small national park doesn’t score too highly as a conventional safari destination – of the so-called Big Five, elephant and leopard are scarce, and lion and rhino absent altogether. Taken on its own terms, however, it makes for a...
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