Arusha National Park: Everything You Need to Know

Momella Lakes

Arusha National Park is a park with a dynamic topography and can be accessed quite easily. The park is only 30 minutes away from Arusha, and you will be surprised by the way the lush green regions of the park suddenly pop up in the midst of urban locales. The park has three main topographical features: Mount Meru, the second highest peak in Tanzania, Momella Lake, and Ngurdoto Crater. So the park is a great spot for those who wish to hike, trek, or canoe. Mount Meru especially is climbed by a lot of tourists who wish to have an adventurous tour. Plus, it acts as a practice for climbing Kilimanjaro later. When it comes to wildlife, however, it can be disappointing for many tourists as the concentration of predators here is very low. On the other hand though, it does have a lot of herbivores and mammals, including the rare Colobus monkey.

Arusha NP Giraffes


You will find a lot of mammals here. This park has one of the highest concentrations of giraffes in Tanzania, so they will be very easy to spot. Besides giraffes, elephants, zebras, buffalos, and hippos will be visible easily too. Wildebeests visit this park as well, but they are only seen occasionally.

The park’s main attraction when it comes to wildlife is the Colobus monkey. Many tourists who have been to this park have also said that it is quite easy to spot them in the woodlands.

Predators, though, are low in concentration and are seen only rarely. While Leopard, Cheetahs, Hyenas, and Wild Dogs have been recorded here, it will be extremely difficult to find them.


Because of the lake here you will be able to spot a variety of birds. Geese, hamerkops, grebes, herons, lesser and greater flamingoes, pelicans, and hornbills will be found near the lake. Birds of prey like eagles and the beautiful secretary birds can also be spotted easily.


Arusha National Park has woodlands of Acacias, Kigelias, and Schefflera. But besides them you will also find Juniperus, Euphorbias, and Ficus. You will also get to see the flowers of Lantana, Hibiscus, Jacaranda, etc.

Mount Meru

Things to Do

Mount Meru Climb: Mount Meru, an active volcano and the second tallest mountain in Tanzania, is one of the major attractions of Arusha National Park, and is climbed by many tourists looking for some adventure. The mountain is referred to as the little brother of Kilimanjaro, but is even more challenging to climb. Even then, Mount Meru is often climbed for practice before tourists attempt to climb Kilimanjaro. It helps you get acclimatised to high altitude, and makes it comparatively easier to reach Kilimanjaro’s summit.

The climb mostly starts in the northern part near the Momella Gate within the park. If you do go for a climb, you will have to pay for the activity, the porters, cooks and rangers that will be accompanying you at the entrance of the national park itself. Although, whether you will need cooks and porters or not will depend on how long you choose to spend on Mount Meru. You have the option of going for a day hike or spending two to three days on the mountain and getting to the summit.

A day hike will take around 7 hours in total and you will cover around 20 kms including both ascent and descent. You will be passing through a lot of vegetation and even have the opportunity to get close to the wildlife. A lot of people see giraffes, buffaloes, warthogs, zebras and smaller herbivores during this activity. Before the hike you will be assigned a ranger who will guide you and take you to important points. A great advantage of going on a day hike on Mount Meru is that you won’t be encountering a lot of tourists unlike Kilimanjaro. It will be very peaceful and your view of the beautiful scenery will remain unobstructed.

A climb to the summit on the other hand takes about three to four days usually. You will once again be starting nearing Momella Gate where you will be assigned a cook, a ranger, and porters. The number of porters will be assigned to you depending on the amount of items you carry up to the summit. A single porter can carry up to 15 kgs. Mount Meru will be more challenging to climb compared to Kilimanjaro because it can get very steep. You will have to use your hands to climb in certain places. Near the summit up you will not find any vertical drops, but because of the steepness some people might experience vertigo. However, if you slip in a place you do not need to worry about getting injured a lot, you would just get a few bruises. But because of the steep, Mount Meru climb can also be troublesome for people with a fear of heights, as well.

On the way to the summit, there will be a couple of huts where you can stay overnight. Depending on your pace you can reach the first hut, which is Miriakamba Hut (at 2514 m/8248 ft), within two to four hours. On the way to the hut you will get the opportunity to visit Maio Falls and get a look at a strange formation made by the Fig trees. You will also get close to the animals and spot giraffes, buffalos, zebras are commonly spotted. Once you reach the hut, you will receive a private bunk and have access to a flushable toilet. Your cook will also prepare meals for you here. The next morning you will once again start early, reach the next hut, which is the Saddle Hut (at 3570 m/11712 ft), within three to five hours. Tourists have seen buffaloes near the Saddle Hut, as well. On the way to the Saddle Hut there is a great viewpoint, Mgongo Wa Tembo, from where you can get a good view of Kilimanjaro. You can stop here to have some snacks and recharge as well. You will stay at Saddle Hut overnight, and then depart for the summit quite early in the morning the next day. Your cook will prepare breakfast first, however. The amount of time that it will take you to get to the Summit will once again spend on your pace. It will take about four to six hours. The way to the summit will be more difficult. There will be exposed rocks and slopes. They will make coming down harder as well. But once you reach the summit, the Socialist Peak, you will get a breathtaking view. You will be able to peak down into the Mount Meru crater itself. After celebrating getting to the summit and enjoying the view, you will head back to Saddle Hut for an overnight stay. Or, you may choose to skip an overnight stay and head back to the base directly. Since the descent is much easier, it will take you less time to get back to the base of the mountain. From the Saddle Hut it should take you between three to five hours. If you skip an overnight stay, you will get to the base a little later in the morning, after five to six hours. You can choose to rest at any of the huts in between. Near the base you will once again have the opportunity to get a view of animals. You might even spot Colobus monkeys, Baboons, and Blue monkeys.

The best time to climb Mount Meru is during the dry season, which is from June to March. You will get a great view of the snow covered Kili from the top, and climbing will also be easier since the weather will be clear. Mount Meru climb can also be done during light rains, that is in November and December. Although, the weather won’t be clear and there will be light rain while you’re climbing. April to May, the heavy rain season, is not recommended at all. Some people do climb during those months, but it is not advisable. You won’t have a clear view and it will be slippery which can get dangerous. The guide himself might cancel the climb during these months.

If you wish to organise a Mount Meru climb during your visit to Tanzania, you may talk to us.

Canoeing: A lot of people also enjoy canoeing in Lake Momella. Lake Momella actually refers to a collection of seven shallow lakes within the national park. The canoeing is mostly done in Small Momella. The ride will take about two to two and a half hours and you will be rowing your own canoe. Your guide will be present next to you in his own canoe. During this activity you will get a look at the hippos, bushbucks, buffaloes, giraffes, etc. You will also be able to spot birds like herons, flamingoes, and grebes. Water birds like to collect around the lake and feed on algae present in it.

Walking Safari: Going out for a walking safari in Arusha National Park is a great option as the concentration of predators is very low. After doing a game drive around the park, you may reach the Momella Gate where you will be able to register for the walking safari and be assigned a ranger. You will be able to freely roam between the animals (at a safe distance of course) and hear the buzz of the ecosystem around you. Walking Safaris are also great for those who wish to get closer to primates. Colobus Monkeys and Blue Monkeys are the famous species here, and you will get a good look at them during a walking safari. Besides pointing out all the wildlife for you, your ranger will provide you with all kinds of information about them and introduce you to the flora of the park as well.

Ngurdoto Crater Visit: Ngurdoto Crater in the northern section of the park is a great location for a hike. It has rainforests surrounding the area full of wildlife. There is a road created by TANAPA that covers most of the crater rim, but because of the lush forest the crater floor won’t be visible most of the time. There are certain points however, that your armed ranger /guide can take you to, where you will get some stunning views of the entire crater. From the Leitong viewpoint on the rim, you can also get a view of the snow covered Kilimanjaro. Momella Lakes and the nearby human settlement will also be visible.

It is also possible to hike to the crater floor itself. You can make your payment at the Ngongongare Gate and be assigned a ranger there.

Besides hiking, you can also explore the crater rim and the viewpoints in your vehicle.

Weather and Climate

Arusha National Park’s climate is mostly mild and pleasant. The Dry Season is from June to October and the Wet Season is from November to May.

In the Dry Season, at night and early mornings the temperature can drop as low as 9°C / 48°F and go as high as 21°C / 69°F. June to August are considered the coldest months.

The Wet Season is comparatively warmer. The lowest temperature averages around 11°C / 52°F, whereas the highest temperature averages around 23°C / 73°F.

Momella Lakes

When to Visit

If you wish to spot more wildlife then the Dry Season is the best time to visit. The forests won’t be thick enough to hide the animals and thus give you a great visibility. Dry season is also the best for Mount Meru climbing and Walking Safari. Mount Meru won’t be slippery and you will get good, clear views of the park and Kilimanjaro. And during walking safari, you wouldn’t have to walk in muddy regions.

Wet Season would be a good time for the bird lovers on the other hand. Migratory birds arrive here during these months and there will be a wide range of species for you to find. There will be Flamingoes, Waterbucks, Trogons, Geese, Ibises, Pelicans, and many more.


(Section to be updated)

Location and How to Reach

Arusha National Park is a part of the northern circuit and is located quite close to the town of Arusha. From your Arusha accommodation you can reach the park within 30 to 40 minutes.

Fees Structure

Entry fee for Arusha National Park depends on the visitor's nationality and age. For foreigners, park fee is $59 per adult per day. This park fee is valid for 24 hours. However, you must note that the park fees will also expire if you step out of the park before completing 24 hours.

If your accommodation is inside the park, then a concession fee of $59 per adult per night will apply.

Safari Tours

We offer various itineraries that include safari tours to Arusha National Park. To view some of our popular tours, click here. (section to be updated)


How many days do we recommend at Arusha National Park?

Arusha National Park can be fully explored within a day. You can go for a game drive, explore the region around the base of the mountain, and visit the crater rim as well.

If you wish to climb the mountain however, you will be inside the park for at least 3 to 4 days.

Can I explore Arusha National Park in only half a day?

Yes, you can definitely explore Arusha National Park in only half a day. You will be able to visit all the important spots, but you might not get the time to properly venture out into the crater or properly explore the base of Mount Meru. The trip will feel a little rushed.

You can go out on walking safaris or for canoeing however. You will still be seeing all the ungulates we have mentioned in the article, and many tourists do not regret half a day at this park. It will be like a good introduction or an end to your complete Tanzanian safari.

How should I prepare for Mount Dry climb?

Before the climb, you can prepare your body by doing regular exercise in the form of walking, swimming, yoga etcetera. Try to build your endurance. Deep breathing exercises will also be a great help. There are various articles dedicated to how you can prepare your body for Mount Meru climb, so checking them out will be really helpful.

Carry energy bars and drinks with you while climbing so that you can recharge quickly should the need arise.

Make sure to carry the right gears and dress up properly. Your duffel bags or rucksacks with your sleeping bags, pillows, medicines, toiletries etcetera must be waterproof. Thermal base layers, thermal tops, hiking pants, waterproof jackets are suitable for a climb. For your feet get hiking boots and shoes, along with hiking socks. You might have to keep switching between boots and shoes. Once again, sites particularly dedicated to Mount Meru and Kilimanjaro climbs will give you a detailed insight into how to dress up properly.

Is it necessary for me to climb Mount Meru before climbing Kilimanjaro?

Climbing Meru before Kili will be beneficial as it will acclimatise your body to high altitudes, and your chances of reaching Kili’s summit will also increase. But it is by no means necessary for you to climb Meru before Kili.

Can I visit Mount Meru even if I have only one day in Arusha National Park?

You can certainly visit Mount Meru even if you have only a single day in the park.

You can go for a day hike on Mount Meru which will take about 7 hours in total. You will be assigned a ranger, and get to see a lot of animals and vegetation.

Day hike on Mount Meru or Kilimanjaro?

Mount Meru is considered a better option if you wish to go for a day hike. Due to Kilimanjaro’s popularity it is usually crowded at the base, and many tourists are not able to enjoy a day hike on Kili because of that. On Mount Meru however, you won’t be coming across a lot of people, and get to see animals such as giraffes, zebras, and buffalos.

I have heard we can do a self drive safari in Arusha National Park. How do I organise it?

Due to the lack of predators, Arusha National Park is a great location for a self drive safari. At the gate of the park, you will have to fill out a registration form, make payments, and get a ranger assigned.

If you want to organise a self drive safari, you may inform us and we will help you arrange it.


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