Arusha National Park covers Mount Meru, a prominent volcano with an elevation of 4566 m, in the Arusha Region of north eastern Tanzania.
The park is small but varied with spectacular landscapes in three distinct areas. In the west, the Meru Crater funnels the Jekukumia River; the peak of Mount Meru lies on its rim. Ngurdoto Crater in the south-east is grassland. The shallow alkaline Momella Lakes in the north-east have varying algal colours and are known for their wading birds.
The park is just a few kilometres north east of Arusha, though the main gate is 25 km east of the city. It is also 58 km from Moshi and 35 km from Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA).
The acrobatic black and white Colobus monkey welcomes you as you pass through Arusha's main entrance gate. From the lush green swamps surrounded by thick forest in the Ngurdoto Crater, up through the scenic beauty of the Momela Lakes, each a startlingly different hue, through to the chilly alpine like tundra on Mount Meru, Arusha National Park is a gem of a park, seldom used by the majority of visitors to Tanzania. Explore the diverse and changing landscapes, hike along scenic mountain and forest trails and view huge masses of wildlife in this quaint and charming park.
There are three major attractions in the park. First is the Ngurdoto Crater, which is sometimes called "mini Ngorongoro." Secondly, there are the Momella lakes, which are shallow alkaline lakes which get their water from underground streams. Finally, there is the spectacular Meru Crater. Mount Meru (14,990 feet) is described as "one of the most rewarding mountains to climb in Africa." Visitors can climb the mountain, or organize walking safaris. The park also provides great views of Kilimanjaro and Mount Meru on clear days.
The remains of a large volcano, the Ngurdoto Crater is a steep sided bowl of lush swamps and riverine forest, which is home to elephant, buffalo, warthog, baboon, reedbuck, Colobus monkeys and duikers. Mosses, ferns, lichens and orchids thrive in the damp atmosphere of the crater, giving way to huge mahogany, olive and date palm trees on the drier crater walls.
The tranquil beauty of the Momela Lakes brings to the park a wide variety of birdlife (Over 380 species) including flamingoes, waterfowl, African pochard, ibis, heron, egrets, colourful turacos and trogons. The rocky crags of Mount Meru sees a large number of birds of prey and you may be lucky enough to spot lammergeyers, a large, rare bird of prey, floating on the up draughts from the crater. Other game includes hippo, giraffe, zebra, antelope, blue monkey, dik dik, reedbuck, klipspringers, leopard, and spotted hyena.