One of the closest national parks that border the Arusha town in the northern part is the ArushaNational Park. Often referred to as the multi-faceted jewel, this place is often overlooked by most safari goers, despite providing the best opportunity to explore the enticing diversity of animal habitats within few hours.
When entering through the gate, you are led through a shadowy montane forest that is mostly populated by blue monkeys and colorful turacos and trogons. This is the only place in the entire northern safari circuit where you will find the acrobatic black and white colobus monkey. In the middle of the park, there is the exhilarating Ngurdoto crater whose lofty rocky cliffs enclose a floor that is populated mostly by herds of buffalo and warthogs.
When moving further towards the north, the rolling grassy hills encompass the tranquil beauty of the Momela lakes which has their own distinct hue of green or blue. If lucky, you might also see its shallow waters turn a shade of pink as thousands of flamingoes flock there. The lake is an ornithologist’s paradise as it supports a rich selection of resident and migrant waterfowls. You will also get to see the shaggy waterbucks displaying their large horns on the water edges. The list of fauna does not end here as you will also get to view giraffes gliding across the hills between the slow-grazing zebras. The animal story would quickly unfold as you would also see dik-dikwith wide eyes who skits through the place into a scrubby bush like Mr. Rabbit of Alice in Wonderland. You will be eager to see the hole, and expect much more of these wonders to unfold.
One of the common sightings in ArushaNational Parkis elephants. However, lions are completely absent in the region. The predators include leopards and spotted hyenas that lurk around especially early morning or late afternoon. But, in afternoon mostly does the veil of cloud in the eastern horizon would clear and you would be captivated at the splendid peaks full of snow of Kilimanjaro which is only 30 miles away.
However, Kilimanjaro is not the place where the charm lies but its unassuming cousin Mt.Meru. It is the fifth largest peak in Africa and dominates the park’s horizon as if god created its foot slopes to encompass the park and keep it protected from the prying eyes of danger.
After you have passed through the wooded savannah near the foot hills of Meru where you will be greeted by the laid back giraffes and buffaloes, you will be soon ascending into a forest that is aflame with red pokers and Spanish moss. After some time, you will be soon greeted in the open with the high open heath spiked giant lobelias.
The overall park is about 212 sq miles and getting here would mean a 40 minute drive from Arusha. The crater and park can all be visited within a course of half day outing. However, you should remember that for hiking at Mt.Meru, you will get the permitfor 12 hours only.
Here, at Arusha National Park, you can take forest walks, go for numerous picnics or even climb Mt. Meru for three or four days.