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Let's talk Arusha National Park. (Tanzania)

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So who has been, where did you stay, how was the accomodation and tourist infrastructure? What sightings did you have? What are your recommendations for Arusha National Park? Feel free to post anything which you think will be of interest to those visiting below.

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Posted (edited)

I have been to Arusha National Park in August 2007, spending 2 nights at Hatari Lodge (which is named after the Hollywood movie "Hatari", with John Wayne and Hardy Kruger, which was filmed in this general area).


The park obviously reveolves around Mount Meru. There is an open plain in the south called "Serengeti Ndogo" (Little Serengeti), which supports zebra, wildebeest, buffalo and waterbuck. Other notable features are Ngurdoto Crater and the Momella Lakes, where you can see falmingoes and other acquatic birds. The northern fringes of the Park are characterized by acacia woodland, where large numbers of giraffes thrive.


There are no lions in the Park, and the main predators are spotted hyena and leopard (rarely seen).


Amongst the unusual sightings I had, I saw a zorilla, a red duiker and a fish eagle trying in vain to catch some flamingoes.


Apparently, climbing Mt. Meru is a great experience. Experts say that, for various aspects (animal encounters, landscape, vegetation) it is superior to Kili (never done either of them, so I cannot tell personally).

Edited by Paolo

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I live just 40mins away and am a regular visitor - I love the forest! Birding is fantastic (both Narina and Bar-tailed Trogons are not too hard), and the forest views are stunning. You should also be able to find the East African Black-and-white Colobus without too much difficulty, Sykes (or Blue if you prefer) are also common, but this reallyisn't the park for large mammals. Walking in the forest is possible (you need to pick up a ranger from the ranger post, and you get 4hrs) and a joy, thanks to the large numbers of buffalo and elephant (though I've rarely seen them) keeping it open enough that you're not forever snagging on undergrowth. There's a nice route up past a waterfall, over a rise, through a rather impressive strangler fig (I also drive my landrover through this tree) and back past some lovely grasslands (with buffalo). I'm also keen to do some higher level walks into the crater floor. It's an education walking (or driving if you want) through all the forest zones then out onto the heaths. Momella Lakes are pretty good too for birds (and the sharp-eyed will see hippo on the Small Momella), you can arrange canoeing there too. On a clear day everything is stunning, with Meru immediately above and great views across to Kili. It's a great part to visit for a day or so as a complete contrast to the rest of the Northern Circuit - and far fewer visitors too.





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I'll be visiting Arusha NP for the first time in a few months time, can't wait.

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I wrote the following a little while ago but for some reason never got round to posting it, anyway I thought this thread needed some photos.


Arusha National Park was originally called Ngurduto Crater NP and was made up of Ngurduto Crater and the area around the Momella Lakes but was expanded to include Mt Meru Africa’s 5th highest mountain in 1967and was then renamed. The park is not particularly noted for its’ big game elephants are now quite scarce, black rhinos once abundant are now of course extinct and populations of a number of other species have been significantly depleted by poaching. Although lions have been occasionally sighted in the past there are none in the park now, this is partly due to the parks small size but mainly I think due to the unsuitability of the habitat which is largely forest.


Lacking the great herds of big game that characterise Tanzania’s better known parks Arusha tends to get overlooked which is a shame as the parks is well worth visiting. Ngurduto Crater may not be nearly as big as Ngorongoro but the views from the rim are still pretty spectacular.



Ngurduto Crater, Mt Kilimanjaro is just barely visible in the distance on the right


Crater Floor



The crater is best visited in the early morning when the weather tends to be clearer looking away to the northeast you get a good view of Mt Kilimanjaro.


The view looking west is dominated by Mt Meru which more energetic visitors may wish to climb.

The forested slopes of the crater along with those of Mount Meru are home to a good variety of forest birds as well as a sizeable population of the highland or Kilimanjaro black & white colobus or guereza, which are seen here more easily than in any other Tanzanian NP.



White-eared barbet



Kilimanjaro Colobus Colobus guereza caudatus

For more information and photos of black & white colobus Lets see your black & white colobus

Immediately northwest of the crater are a number of shallow alkaline lakes the two largest are known as Little Momella and Big Momella these lakes and are one of the best places in Tanzania to see water birds especially flamingos.





Cape Teal


Grey Crowned Crane


Black-crowned night heron


View back up to Mount Meru

While game isn’t as numerous as in other parks species that are common and easily seen include giraffes, buffalos, zebras, waterbuck bushbuck and Harvey’s duiker.



Stop and smell the flowers, young bushbuck with fireball lilies


Harvey's (red) duiker

I only spent one day in the park so I haven’t climbed Mt Meru. Overshadowed by its higher and more famous neighbour Kilimanjaro, Meru which stands at 4,566M/14,967ft is not nearly so popular with climbers, so it isn’t crowded with tourists. The climb is said to be if anything more spectacular than Kilimanjaro but is slightly more arduous, however it’s considerably cheaper, takes less time only 3-4 days and obviously because it’s much lower there’s less chance of suffering from altitude sickness. Also the parks wildlife is an added attraction and game animals like giraffes, zebras and buffalos are often seen on the way up. In fact due to frequent encounters with buffalos and occasional encounters with elephants climbers must be accompanied by an armed ranger for the first stage of the ascent up to the Miriakamba Hut.


I visited Arusha National Park just as a daytrip and so didn’t stay in the park therefore I can’t comment on the parks accommodation. I stayed at Ngare Sero Mountain Lodge which is on the lower slopes of Mt Meru 20kms east of Arusha town.


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Thanks for posting your experiences of this surprisingly wildlife rich park which I think of as giraffe central due to the large number that we saw on a one day visit. Not only did we see a lot of individuals but there were also groups of 8+ animals that we saw in different parts of the park.


Its a pleasant way to spend a day pre- or post safari (we were waiting for other members of the party) and saw many birds (including sunbirds and flamingos), black and white colobus and Sykes monkeys, Mt Kilimanjaro, red duiker and a bushbuck in additional to the more common species.

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Posted (edited)

I am planning on going to Northern Tanzania in late Sept/early Oct and was thnking of doing a day or two in Arusha Park - i particualry liked the idea of not many people and doing a walk, which i am pleased to see TZBirder mentioned.


Can anyone tell me whether you can self drive the park and if so do you need a 4x4 even though it will be the dry season? From TZ's post i assume you can.



Edited by Eagle Owl

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From Kamili Safari's Facebook page here,


The Ngurdoto Crater is in Arusha National Park in Tanzania. For almost half a century no visitors have been allowed down into the crater, but due to their conservation work in the area, Hatari Lodge has been granted permission to take clients (with park rangers) into the crater. It's an amazing experience.

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I went to Arusha park ten days ago. It was a post-northern circuit safari visit. The only things I really wanted to do, was to do a walk, to see Turacos and to see back and white colobus monkeys. We ticked all three.


I originally looked into renting a vehicle myself and spending a day in the park but that was going to work out too expensively, so then I looked at organised tours and they too were pricey. Our safari company for example, that we did a 6 day camping safari tour of Tarangire, Serengeti and Ngorongoro, wanted the same daily rate as the rest of the safari just to tack on an extra day in Arusha park. So I settled on plan C, which was to book a hotel for 2 nights near the main entrance gate (Ngongongare Gate) and investigate the options once I got there.


So, we got dropped off after our safari in the nearest lodge to the park gate in the evening (which I had pre-booked via email) and in the morning took a walk to the gate (about a ten minute walk) to investigate the options. It turns out that you have to pay the entrance fees, walk fees etc at this entrance gate, but you then need to get to Momella gate a half hr drive inside the park to do the walk. Frustrating. There are no transport options at the entrance gate, so we turned around and walked back out and I thought, right I need to find a local with a vehicle and pay him to take us up there and quick (this was our only day to do this).


As luck would have it, 5 mins later we bumped into the manager of the hotel we were staying at who was driving out of the hotel to do some shopping as we were walking back in and so I explained the situation to her and she got one of her local workers to phone a taxi company and we managed to arrange for the taxi to take us to Momella and then around the park for the rest of the day (about 6 hours in total) for 80,000 shillings ($50) including the vehicle park fee. The car soon turned up - a two wheel drive saloon car and off we set. Not the best vehicle by any means for the park (need one with better ground clearance really as the dirt/gravel tracks can be hard going in a regular car, as the bottom of the car would no doubt willing attest to), but it was fine for what we wanted.


On the drive in we saw a few of the black and white colobus monkeys crossing the road, but they scampered away before I could get any photos. Great to see them nonetheless. We then came across a puff adder, I think it was, crossing the road. You have never seen such a look of panic on someone's face as that which crossed our drivers face as soon as he saw it. He straight away did all the windows up, before I managed to persuade him to stop alongside so that I could take a hurried photo.


We then got to Momella gate where we did a very enjoyable 2 hour walk with an armed guide. Saw giraffes, buffalo, waterbuck, baboons and warthogs very close, as well as a few birds including quite a few beautiful and very vocal Turacos (Hartlaub's I think, but need to check when I get a chance).


Then onto Momella lakes to see the literally thousands of flamingos and a lone hippo. More than I have ever seen anywhere in the world. A stunning sight. After which we drove up the Ngurdoto crater for the stunning views of the crater. Loads of very large and noisy hornbills flying around the trees on the crater floor (I think silvery cheeked) and then one flew up closer to us and landed in a nearby tree for a while allowing us a better view (poorish photo to follow at some point, when I get around to transferring them onto my computer).


Overall a great little day's outing, which we did for about as cheaply as it is possible to do. $149 for the entrance fees for: the two of us in park fees ($45 ea), plus driver and car fees, plus walking fees ($20 ea). Then the $50 taxi cost, giving a total cost of $100 each for the day, less than half of what our safari company wanted to charge us.


The wildlife is more limited than in Tarangire, the Serengeti etc, but if like me you love nature then it is a very worthwhile way to fill a day.

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On our 14 day safari back in Sep-Oct 2013, we started off our adventure with one day in Arusha NP. After flying into Kilimanjaro International Airport, we spent one day to recoup at Arumeru River Lodge and then headed out for our first safari day in Arusha NP. As our first safari, it gave me a chance to get my animal photography "legs" firmly on the ground before going to Tarangire and Serengeti NPs. It is a great one-day outing while still in Arusha or before leaving for other parts in Tanzania.


Colobus monkeys and flamingos were the highlight.

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