Arusha: The Serengeti's Quieter Cousin
Often overlooked by visitors to Tanzania, the 552km2 Arusha National Park in the north of the country is the Serengeti’s quieter cousin. Elephants are seldom seen and lions are absent, but what Arusha lacks here it more than makes up for in other areas. Visitors can explore a fascinating array of ecosystems, with montane forests packed with blue monkeys and trogons, as well as the Momela lakes like gems fringed with pink shores of flamingos.
In the centre of the forest, almost hidden, is the vast Ngurdoto crater, home to herds of buffalo and warthogs. Hiking opportunities abound here and you will see a rich variety of wildlife from the trail. Elsewhere one finds grassy hills populated by herds of graceful giraffes and skittish zebra, and in early evening you may spot leopards and hyena skulking in the shadows. From the park you can look upon Mount Kilimanjaro and watch as it turns pink in the sunset.
If mountain climbing appeals to you Mount Meru, at 4,566m, offers incredible views from the summit and you’ll pass through forests rich in plant and animal life on the ascent.
Access to the park is easy and it is only a 40 minute drive from the town of Arusha. The best time to visit is between June and February, and Arusha is considered a good place to acclimatise if you plan to continue on to Kilimanjaro.