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Arusha National Park


552 km2 (212 mi2)


1960 (National Park)

Best time to visit

All year-round

The green jewel in the North

Arusha National Park is often overlooked, and travellers wonder if they may see much wildlife: Absolutely you will! It is a diverse and lush park and home to giraffes, hippos, buffaloes as well as fish eagles and flamingos. You can even go on a canoe trip and a walking safari! A hidden gem, just around the corner from Arusha.

Zebra herd in Arusha National Park

Arusha National Park: A small park with so much to offer

It’s a gorgeous, almost magical place – Arusha National Park, northeast of Arusha town and just 50 kilometres from the international Kilimanjaro Airport. Black-and-white Colobus monkeys jump through the treetops with ease, elegant giraffes wander across the open savannah, and beautiful flamingos stand tall in the shallow Momella Lakes while Mt Meru calmly overlooks the goings-on.

Compared to Tarangire or Serengeti National Park, the Arusha National Park is very small. But on this comparably small area – which is still bigger than 77,000 football (soccer) fields! – you will find a surprisingly large diversity of vegetation supporting an equally large diversity of wildlife. From Mt Meru, the fifth highest mountain in Africa, in the West, the Momella Lakes in the North-East and the Ngurdoto Crater in the South-West you can experience mountainous forest, open savannah and grass land as well as a lush rain forest.


What to see in Arusha National Park

Passing the “small Serengeti” during a game drive, you are likely to spot peaceful herds of buffaloes, shy bushbucks on the edge of the forest as well as warthogs and zebras. The area is also home to a high concentration of giraffes. Heading towards the Ngurdoto Crater you will soon find yourself in a lush rainforest – a great place to spot the athletic black and white colobus monkey as well as the elegant mitis monkey. The Ngurdoto Crater is basically a smaller version of the Ngorongoro Crater and has a diameter of about 3 km. With a bit of luck, you might even spot buffaloes in the swamps on the crater floor.

On the way towards the Momella Lakes, visitors are in for a treat as common waterbucks and reedbucks love to hang around the lake shore. An array of water birds like cormorants, kingfishers and beautiful flamingos are also often spotted.

Arusha National Park is also home to about a handful of African elephants but due to their constant movement they are hardly ever spotted. The same goes for leopards which roam the vast foggy forests of Mt Meru.


What to do in Arusha National Park

The most common activity here are classic game drives in 4×4 safari vehicles. Your experienced local guide knows the best areas to spot wildlife and will safely navigate the terrain. It is a great place for a day trip or the start of your longer safari.

But there is more: If you want to get active, you can go on walking safaris in Arusha National Park. There are very few places in Tanzania’s protected national parks which allow you to walk amongst the wild on foot. But the low number of predators in Arusha National Park makes it possible.

A walking safari is a great opportunity for anyone wanting to get up close to wildlife and birdlife, have a closer look at the moss-covered trees and take in the sounds and smells and colours around them. Most common sightings whilst on a walking safari include buffaloes, warthogs, giraffes and a variety of birds such as the silvery cheeked hornbill, little bee-eater and the occasional long crested eagle. The walk takes visitors to the refreshing Tululusia waterfalls and back to the Momella gate.


The Momella Lakes

The Momella Lakes in the north-east are shallow alkaline lakes with different salt levels. An ideal habitat for flamingos! Depending on the season and the water levels, you can spot large flocks of these elegant birds here. On the small Momella Lake, you can also go on a canoe trip. These scenic and peaceful trips take about 2.5 to 3 hours and take you past antelope and buffalo herds grazing along the shore. You will be accompanied by an experience guide.

Arusha National Park truly has such a lot to offer and dazzles with a perfect mix of flora and fauna and diversified landscapes.

Arusha National Park map location

The Wildlife

Diverse vegetation is habitat for a diverse wildlife. You will see some of the icons of the African bush, among them buffaloes, giraffes, zebras, monkeys & more!

mountain peak

Mt Meru

The huge cliffs of Mt Meru tower above Arusha National Park at 4,566m. You start your climb to its peak in the park.


Walking Safaris

This is one of the few spots in Tanzania where you can do a walking safari. Experience wildlife on foot – a truly memorable experience.

Mt Kilimanjaro view from Arusha National Park

You can see Mt Meru and even Mt Kilimanjaro (see photo) from Arusha National Park.

Giraffe family walking

Giraffes are one of the most spotted animal in the park.

Two buffaloes in Arusha National Park

Buffaloes are a member of the Big Five. You can see them here.

Flamingos in Momella Lake

Depending on the season flamingos take residence on Momella Lake.

Walking safaris Arusha National Park

You can go on guided Walking Safaris in Arusha National Park.

Wildlife and vegetation in Arusha National Park

The park is known for its beautiful scenery and diverse wildlife.


Best time to go to Arusha National Park

Arusha National Park is a year-round destination. But as many places in Tanzania, the best time to spot wildlife is during the dry season from June to October. Vegetation is more scarce allowing you to spot wildlife more easily. This is also the best time to go on a walking safari. During the green season the park is literally very green – tall grass and foliage make it trickier to spot wildlife. That being said, the rainy green season does turn the park into a beautiful and lush jewel making for a very scenic visit. It is also a great time to see Tanzania’s birdlife.

dry season

Dry Season

June to October

Ideal for wildlife sightings and walking safaris

rainy season

Green Season

November & March to May

Best for birdlife and beautifully lush landscapes

Why to go

Get a real taste of safari

If you don’t have enough time to go on a multi-day safari, Arusha National Park will give you a real taste and arguably more of what safari is all about. While it’s not a Big Five destination, there is plenty of classic wildlife and even the black-and-white colobus monkey that’s hard to spot in other areas. The scenery is the star of the show and invites you to leave the rest of the world behind, despite the busy “safari capital” of Arusha being only 25 km (15 miles) away. It’s the perfect getaway and day-trip destination.

Giraffes Arusha National Park
We really enjoyed our day trip to Arusha National Park last week. Our guide, John, was knowledgable, patient, as well as a sharp animal spotter. This trip is a great introduction to Tanzania and its beauty – I can’t recommend it enough. Everything about our day was perfect – thank you for a wonderful memory!
JD | Arusha National Park day trip | USA

Experience the Arusha National Park

Walking safari Arusha National Park
Walking Safaris

One of the few national parks where you can go on a safari on foot.

Momella Lake canoe trip
Canoe Trip

Paddle on Lake Momella and watch wildlife on the shore.

Start Mt Meru climb Arusha National Park
Mt Meru Climb

The multi-day Mt Meru climb begins in Arusha National Park.

Things to do

Get active on safari

Arusha National Park is one of the few protected areas in Tanzania where you can get out of the car and get active as part of your safari. From guided walking safaris past giraffes and zebras to canoe trips on the Small Momella Lake to a multi-day Mt Meru climb for the more ambitious amongst us.

  • Walking Safaris
  • Canoe Trip
  • Mt Meru climb
Colobus monkey in a tree
Colobus Monkey

This is not just any monkey, but one of the most beautiful and rare ones of its kind.

Two buffaloes lying down

There are three members of the Big Five in Arusha National Park and buffaloes are the easiest spotted. Leopards and elephants often remain hidden.

Closeup of a giraffe

Giraffes are a common sight in Arusha National Park and we never grow tired of watching them for hours on end.

Flamingos on Momella Lakes in Arusha National Park

You won’t see flamingos just anywhere since the algae they eat grows in shallow waters only. The Momella Lakes are one such place to see them.


More diverse than you might have expected

The diverse vegetation supports a diverse set of wildlife species. From grassland and savannah to rainforest and alkaline lakes, this small park has a lot to offer its residents and migratory visitors.

Where to stay in and near Arusha National Park

African View Lodge

African View Lodge

Rivertrees Country Inn

Rivertrees Country Inn

Elewana Arusha Coffee Lodge

Elewana Arusha Coffee Lodge

Hatari Lodge

Hatari Lodge

Kili Villa Arusha

Kili Villa

Gran Melia Arusha

Gran Melia Hotel

Lake Duluti Lodge

Lake Duluti Lodge

Lemala Hamerkop House

Lemala Hamerkop House

Mt Meru Game Lodge

Mt Meru Game Lodge


Arusha National Park is located on Tanzania’s northern circuit, about 25 km north of the town Arusha. Mt Kilimanjaro lies to the north of the park, while Mt Meru is located inside the national park boundaries to the west. It is easily reachable by car on a tarmac road. Arusha is the starting point for most safaris to the Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater and other popular destinations in northern Tanzania.

Lion paws closeup
Arno Snellenberg Tanzania Travel Expert
Tanzania-Experience safari vehicle

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