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Arusha National Park
 

 

 

 

About the Park

Arusha national park has been expanded to include the mount meru forest catchment reserve annexed in 2004. It now has a total area  of 552sq km.

Established in 1960, is the only one which has changed its park. By then the prominent features included the momella lakes.When mount meru crater was annexed, the name changed to meru crater national park. Later the name Arusha national park was adopted.


It is the core of mount meru natural system and the source for  several perennial and seasonal rivers that provide water to Arusha city as well as to the many settlements in the dry but densely inhabited Arumeru district.These rivers provide irrigation, drinking water and feed into the pangani River which produces 30 per cent of Tanzania’s hydro-electric power.

 

From Arusha city, the visitor travels from about 21 Km easterly along the main tarmac Arusha – Moshi Road. And just after the Usa River settlement, There is a turning to the left sign- posted Ngarenanyuki- more correctly, Engarenanyokie, in Maasai, meaning brown water- and Arusha National Park.

 

The road climbs  by an easy and gently gradient passing through coffee farms on the way ngurdoto gate which will be relocated to Ngongongare, closer to the park boundary. The distance from Arusha city to Ngongongare is about 30km, and from ngongongare to momella the stretch covers 10Km.


The arusha national park is part of a larger regional ecosystem of mount meru- Kilimanjaro – Amboseli along the eastern edge of the Great Rift valley. At 4565 meters above sea level, Meru is the fifth highest mountain in Africa, and is a dormant volcano. During an eruption a quarter of a million year ago, the eastern crater wall collapsed giving the mountain its spectacular horse shoe shape.

 

Below the breathtaking cliff face of meru’s peaks, the slopes are covered by the montane forest.Other vegetation in the park include the acacia  woodland and open plains( known affectionally as “ Serengeti ndogo” whici are inhabited by hundreds of gifaffe, buffalo and other plains game.

 

A second much smaller crater Ngurdoto, and  a series of fresh and alkaline lakes provide additional drama to this intensely pressured and under- appreciated park. Within  the relatively small confines of the park, are  a rich and uniquely diverse collection of habitats that ensure a diversity of flora and fauna.Within the park, altitudes range from 1524 meters above sea level at momella to nearly 4565 meters at the summit of meru, Hence the climate varies with the altitude.

 

Short rains are in November and December while long rains are in mid  march to late may. Considerable cloud- cover from april to September keeps the area green through much of the dry season.The higher south-western slopes of mount meru receive up to 2000mm of rainfall a year.

 

The hottest season is in January and  February  with temperatures rarely exceeding 27C while the cold season is from june to August with temperatures at midday not dropping below 15C. On  the highest parts of mount meru, temperatures are lower and front occurs at night during the cold season.

 

The roads inside the park have been aligned to obtain the best viewing of both animals and scenery. Considering the type of the park, the roads are naturally hilly and twisty.However, a drive through this park is quite enjoyabl
e as there are very romantic scenes.And as is always in a national park, the slower you go the more you will see.
The best time to climb mount meru is between june and  February while best views of the Kilimanjaro are between December and February.

 

 


The significance of the Arusha national park should not be under estimated. A number of features are worth nothing. Take the mount meru for instance; this is the second highest mountain in Tanzania and the fifth highest in Africa. Along with the montane forest, it is a major source of water to the surrounding communities and to Arusha city. Furthermore, it is the source of the pangani basin.


In this park, there is a high diversity of flora and fauna including the rare, endangered, threatened and endemic species such as the East African pencilcedar. It is therefore an area with remarkable diversity of environments, ranging from forest to open glades, from  fresh water to strongly alkaline lakes where giraffe, elephant, leopard, black and white colobus monkeys roam.

 

In view of its high number of varies habitats concentrated in a small area and its accessibility and vicinity to the city of Arusha, the park is most suitable for training, educational and research purposes.

The major attractions in this park therefore, Include;
The momella lakes
The Tropical montane forest
Mount  meru and Ngurdoto crater
Big and little meru peaks, the ash cone
Waterfalls
Serengeti “ndogo” ( Little Serengeti )
Habitat diversity
Fig tree Arch
Butterflies and Birdlife diversity
Spectacular views of Giraffe thoughout the park
Cultural and Historical sites
Rare, endemic and threatened species of flora and fauna

Admittedly the road up the meru crater and Ash cone passes through beautiful spots such as waterfalls before arriving at the base of the cone.


 

Along the route, the scenery and view are superb, for the road passes through virgin forests containing gigantic trees and many open glades where animals are frequently seen; elephant, buffalo, bushbuck, red forest duiker and colobus monkey being the usual ones observed on the mountain. At the higher levels the wild flowers are lovely.