Arusha National Park
With Arusha National Park near the city of Arusha, you don’t have to travel too far after landing to find yourself surrounded by the African bush. Canoeing, walking safaris, and game drives are some of the best things you can do here and make for the perfect start to any northern circuit self-drive trip.
Arusha NatioGlancenal Park, at Arusha
Situated just 51 km from Arusha city centre and 90 km Moshi town, Arusha National Park is one of most convenient parks and is a fantastic destination for a day trip and makes for a great beginning or end to your self-drive trip.
Arusha National Park hosts a wide variety of landscapes, ranging from vast savannah and rainforest through to acacia woodlands and up to alpine vegetation on the higher reaches of Mount Meru.
At just over 200 square miles, Arusha National Park has great wildlife densities, and it is home to the world’s largest population of giraffe. Cape buffalo, elephants, hippos, zebra are found here in abundance
Some great activities at Arusha National park include game driving, canoeing, hiking Mount Meru, and walking safaris. It is one of the few national parks in Tanzania where you can go on walking safaris.
Walking safaris are a great alternative to the traditional safari experience, and over the last year national park authorities have allowed walking safaris to take place in other parks on the northern circuit such as Tarangire, Lake Manyara.
Where Does Arusha National Park Fit Into Your Tanzanian Adventure?
Arusha National Park can generally be explored in a day and is a great stand-alone adventure due to its proximity to Arusha city and Moshi town. It also pairs well with longer itineraries on the northern circuit, including the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Tarangire and Serengeti National Park.
If you’re looking to squeeze in a short trip after climbing the steep slopes of Mount Meru, Arusha National Park is also ideal as it lies at the foot of it.
Things to Do on self-drive in Arusha national park
Thanks to its vast diversity in natural habitats and small size, Arusha National Park has fantastic wildlife densities. Many game drives occur in the Ngurdoto Crater and the surrounding forest, where the largest densities of elephants, buffalos and hippos are found.
The Serengeti Ndogo, or little Serengeti, is a vast and golden savannah grassland where many of the plains game graze and is also a great addition to any game drive. Head out in the early morning for the best game viewing opportunities, and pack a picnic lunch for when you get hungry.
Accompanied by a park ranger, you will make your way through the various forest and savannah habitats, observing wildlife from a safe distance. This is also a great opportunity to spot some of Tanzania’s wonderful birdlife.
One of the highlights on a walking safari is walking up to the top of Tululusia Hill, a former lookout point during Tanzania’s tribal wars, which has panoramic views of the lower reaches of Arusha National Park. You can join a larger group or opt to go privately on your walking safari.
Drift along the shallow waters of the Small Momella Lake in a canoe while enjoying scenic views of the surrounding bush and wildlife coming to the shores for a drink.
Canoe trips often last 2-3 hours and are a great alternative to the traditional safari experience. The fibreglass canoes fit two people, and at the time of writing, cost $24 per adult and $12 per child
Apart from Arusha National Park, only Lake Manyara (when the water level is sufficient) and Lake Duluti also in Arusha offer canoe experiences.
The Kili Villa is a luxurious retreat situated on a golf and wildlife estate close to the park and only 30 mins from Arusha International Airport. On offer are three exclusive villas, as well as individual luxury rooms.
Each Villa is distinctively decorated to showcase the best local African design and craftsmanship combined with colonial-style furniture. This lodge offers horse riding, Canoeing and Game drives.
Alternatively, The River Trees Country Inn is a charming country estate that was once an old coffee farm. It still maintains the nostalgic air of a well-loved homestead.
Sprawling across ten acres on Mount Meru’s sloping foothills, beautifully rustic cottages are dotted along the river and nestled under tall trees. Lush lawns and birdsong add to the tranquil surroundings.
The restaurant consist tasty meals of garden-fresh ingredients, old family recipes, and oven-fired pizzas. Delicious candle-lit dinners are served by the warmth of the fireplace or under the stars on the patio.
The best way to get to Arusha National Park is by driving, it is only a 45-minute drive from Arusha, the beginning point of any northern circuit in Tanzania.
The best time to visit Arusha National Park is from June to September and December to March during the dry seasons.
Wildlife spotting and other activities are the most enjoyable at this time of year, and it lines up with The Great Migration if you plan on doing the Serengeti too.
March and April, and October to December are the wet seasons, and it is advised to avoid these months, as rain can ruin or lead to cancellations of planned activities.