Arusha Overview

Arusha National Park, a hidden gem nestled in the shadow of Mount Meru, Tanzania’s second-highest mountain, is located just a short drive from the city of Arusha, the safari capital of northern Tanzania. The park covers an area of about 552 square kilometers (213 square miles), offering a compact but diverse safari experience, distinct from the vast savannahs of Tanzania’s more famous parks like the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater.

Despite its smaller size, Arusha National Park boasts a remarkable variety of ecosystems and landscapes, ranging from the lush montane forests at the lower reaches of Mount Meru to the alpine desert near its summit, and from tranquil alkaline Momella Lakes, tinged with shades of green and blue, to the grassy savannahs and rolling hills. This diversity of habitats supports an equally diverse array of wildlife and flora.

The park is renowned for its birdlife, with over 400 species recorded, making it a paradise for bird watchers. While it may not host large populations of big game like its neighboring parks, Arusha National Park offers unique wildlife viewing opportunities, including the chance to see black-and-white colobus monkeys, giraffes, zebras, warthogs, and a variety of antelope species. The elusive leopard and spotted hyenas are also present, though sightings are rare.

Arusha National Park is also home to several beautiful features, including the Ngurdoto Crater, often referred to as a miniature Ngorongoro, and the Momella Lakes, known for their flamingo populations. The park’s centerpiece, Mount Meru, provides a challenging and scenic trekking opportunity, with its slopes offering spectacular views over the savannah below and towards Kilimanjaro in the distance.

With its close proximity to Arusha city, the park is an ideal day-trip destination for those looking to experience Tanzania’s wild beauty without venturing too far from the comforts of the city. Whether for a day hike, a canoe trip on the Momella Lakes, or a game drive through its varied landscapes, Arusha National Park offers a serene and picturesque introduction to the wonders of Tanzania’s northern safari circuit.

advertisement banner
Park Map
advertisement banner

Arusha National Park Highlights


Arusha National Park is home to a diverse array of predator species, vital for maintaining the park’s ecological balance. These predators play a crucial role in regulating herbivore populations and ensuring overall ecosystem health.

Leopard: Agile and elusive, leopards are solitary hunters known for their stealth and strength. They stalk their prey with precision, relying on camouflage and ambush tactics to secure their meals.

African Golden Cat: A rare and elusive feline, the African golden cat is known for its striking coat and elusive nature. It hunts small mammals and birds in the dense forest undergrowth.

African Civet: Nocturnal and omnivorous, African civets are skilled hunters and scavengers. With sharp claws and teeth, they prey on small mammals, birds, insects, and fruits, playing a vital role in the ecosystem.


Arusha National Park boasts an abundance of diverse wildlife species, captivating visitors with its rich biodiversity and unique sightings. Here are some of the park’s most popular inhabitants:

Giraffe: Towering over the savanna, giraffes gracefully browse on acacia leaves, using their long necks to reach high branches and serving as iconic symbols of African landscapes.

Buffalo: Massive and formidable, African buffalo roam the plains in large herds, grazing on grasses and forming a vital part of the savanna ecosystem.

Zebra: With striking black and white stripes, zebras form large herds, relying on their keen senses and speed to evade predators across the grasslands.

Elephant: Majestic and gentle giants, African elephants shape their environment as they roam, playing a crucial role in maintaining the balance of the ecosystem.

Hippopotamus: Semi-aquatic herbivores, hippos spend their days submerged in water, emerging at night to graze on grasses along the riverbanks.

Wildebeest: Known for their annual migration across the Serengeti, wildebeests form massive herds, braving predators and obstacles in search of greener pastures.

Baboon: Highly social primates, baboons exhibit complex social structures within troops, foraging for fruits, seeds, and insects while keeping a watchful eye for predators.

Warthog: With their distinctive tusks and warty faces, warthogs are resilient survivors of the savanna, often seen grazing alongside other herbivores.

Grant’s Gazelle: Graceful and swift, Grant’s gazelles inhabit the open grasslands, relying on their speed and agility to evade predators like lions and cheetahs.

Impala: Agile and alert, impalas are common sights on the savanna, known for their graceful leaps and ability to detect predators with keen senses.


Arusha National Park is a haven for birdwatchers, boasting a diverse avian population that enchants visitors with its colorful plumage and melodic calls. Here are some of the park’s most popular bird species:

African Fish Eagle: With its striking black and white plumage and piercing yellow eyes, the African Fish Eagle is a majestic sight as it soars above the park’s lakes and rivers, hunting for fish.

Grey Crowned Crane: The national bird of Uganda, the Grey Crowned Crane is known for its regal appearance, featuring a golden crown of feathers atop its head and a graceful dancing display during courtship.

Superb Starling: Vibrant and iridescent, the Superb Starling dazzles with its glossy plumage, adorned in shades of blue, green, and rust. Its melodious calls add a musical backdrop to the park’s scenery.

Lilac-breasted Roller: A symbol of Africa’s beauty, the Lilac-breasted Roller is renowned for its stunning array of colors, including shades of lilac, turquoise, and deep blue, as it perches on branches scanning for insects.

Flamingo: Flocks of flamingos adorn the park’s lakes with splashes of pink, their elegant necks curved as they sift through shallow waters in search of algae and crustaceans.

Secretary Bird: Striding across the savanna with purposeful steps, the Secretary Bird is a striking sight with its long legs, distinct crest of feathers, and powerful beak, preying on snakes and small mammals.

Ostrich: The world’s largest bird, the Ostrich commands attention with its towering height and powerful legs, using its speed to outrun predators across the park’s open plains.

Hammerkop: With its unique hammer-shaped head and distinctive silhouette, the Hammerkop is a fascinating sight as it constructs intricate nests atop trees and riverbanks.

Crowned Hornbill: Sporting a regal crest and vibrant plumage, the Crowned Hornbill is a charismatic resident of the park’s forests, emitting distinctive calls as it forages for fruits and insects.

Grey-headed Kingfisher: Perched patiently along the park’s waterways, the Grey-headed Kingfisher is a masterful hunter, diving swiftly into the water to catch fish with its sharp beak.

Towering majestically above Arusha National Park, Mount Meru is Tanzania’s second-highest peak, reaching an elevation of 14,977 feet (4,565 meters). This dormant stratovolcano offers a thrilling challenge for adventurous trekkers seeking a less crowded alternative to nearby Kilimanjaro.

With its rugged terrain, diverse ecosystems, and breathtaking vistas, Mount Meru promises an unforgettable climbing experience. The ascent typically takes three to four days, leading hikers through lush montane forests, alpine meadows, and rocky slopes adorned with endemic flora and fauna.

Along the way, trekkers may encounter wildlife such as buffalo, giraffe, and colobus monkeys, adding to the allure of the journey.

From the summit, adventurers are rewarded with panoramic views of Kilimanjaro and the surrounding landscape, making Mount Meru a highlight not to be missed in Arusha National Park.

Arusha National Park Pictures

Engaging Arusha

Embark on exhilarating game drives through Arusha National Park to encounter a diverse array of wildlife, including giraffes, zebras, buffaloes, and various antelope species. The park’s scenic landscapes and volcanic features create a picturesque backdrop for wildlife viewing.

Scale the slopes of Mount Meru, Tanzania’s second-highest peak, for an adventurous trekking experience. The climb offers stunning vistas of the surrounding wilderness and provides an opportunity to spot wildlife such as colobus monkeys and buffalo along the way.

Explore the park’s lush forests and open savannas on foot during guided walking safaris. This intimate experience allows you to appreciate the smaller details of the ecosystem and observe wildlife behavior up close while accompanied by knowledgeable guides.

Glide across the tranquil waters of Momella Lakes in a canoe, marveling at the reflections of Mount Meru and Mount Kilimanjaro in the shimmering surface. This serene activity offers a unique perspective of the park’s landscape and provides opportunities for birdwatching and wildlife observation.

Arusha National Park Trails

Mount Meru Summit Trail

Rating: Difficult

Distance and Elevation Gain: 14 miles (22.5 km) with an elevation gain of 9,842 feet (3,000 meters)

Description: The Mount Meru Summit Trail offers a challenging ascent to the summit of Mount Meru, the second-highest peak in Tanzania.

Hikers will traverse through diverse ecosystems, including lush rainforests, alpine meadows, and rocky terrain. Encounter unique wildlife such as colobus monkeys and buffalo while enjoying breathtaking views of the surrounding landscapes.

The trail culminates in the summit, where hikers can marvel at the stunning vistas of Arusha National Park and beyond.

Momella Lakes Circuit Trail

Rating: Moderate

Distance and Elevation Gain: 6 miles (9.7 km) with minimal elevation gain

Description: The Momella Lakes Circuit Trail offers a scenic hike around the picturesque Momella Lakes, a series of shallow alkaline lakes within Arusha National Park.

Hikers will traverse through open grasslands and woodlands, encountering a variety of bird species and wildlife such as giraffes and zebras.

Enjoy panoramic views of Mount Meru and Mount Kilimanjaro as you explore the diverse ecosystems surrounding the tranquil lakes.

Ngurdoto Crater Rim Trail

Rating: Moderate

Distance and Elevation Gain: 5 miles (8 km) with an elevation gain of 1,312 feet (400 meters)

Description: The Ngurdoto Crater Rim Trail offers a moderate hike along the rim of Ngurdoto Crater, a collapsed volcanic caldera within Arusha National Park.

Hikers will trek through dense montane forests and open grasslands, encountering wildlife such as elephants and baboons along the way.

Enjoy panoramic views of the crater floor and surrounding landscapes while learning about the geology and ecology of the area.

Tululusia Waterfall Trail

Rating: Easy to Moderate

Distance and Elevation Gain: 3 miles (4.8 km) with an elevation gain of 656 feet (200 meters)

Description: The Tululusia Waterfall Trail offers a pleasant hike to the scenic Tululusia Waterfall, nestled amidst the lush vegetation of Arusha National Park.

Hikers will walk along well-marked paths, passing through dense forests and crossing small streams.

Enjoy the tranquil ambiance of the forest and the refreshing spray of the waterfall as you take in the natural beauty of this hidden gem.

Meru Crater Rim Trail

Rating: Moderate

Distance and Elevation Gain: 7 miles (11.3 km) with an elevation gain of 1,968 feet (600 meters)

Description: The Meru Crater Rim Trail offers a rewarding hike along the rim of Meru Crater, providing panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes and wildlife-rich plains of Arusha National Park.

Hikers will traverse through montane forests and open grasslands, encountering diverse flora and fauna along the way.

Enjoy sightings of birds and monkeys while marveling at the geological wonders of the crater rim.