Arusha National Park is one of the smallest parks in Tanzania, well known for its five distinct vegetation zones. There is a water forest with towering fig and mahogany trees, extensive marshland, stretches of grassland, parklands with acacia trees, and scrubland on the face of the Rift Valley. In spite of its modest size, 137 square kilometer, there is a lot to be seen in this park: the volcanic Ngurdoto crater, with wild animals on the crater floor, the seven lakes of Momella, and Mount Meru the second highest mountain in the country!
Mount Meru can be ascended somewhat easily in a four days trip from Arusha, and during trekking one can overnight in the two huts Miriakamba and Saddle hut. There is water and fire in the huts, but other equipment like food, cooking equipment and sleeping bags must be brought.
In the opposite side of the park lies the Ngurdoto Crater. There are no roads leading down to the crater, but from various viewpoints one can study the animals underneath. It is a small, peaceful paradise, which pictures the time when the earth was still young and untouched by mankind.
Arusha National Park used to have the largest number of giraffes in the world, but now this has changed. The area is crowded, and houses are built all the way up to the borders of the park, so the animals are no longer able to wander around freely. A lot of animals have been killed by poachers.
Apart from giraffes, you can see buffaloes, waterbucks and antelopes, but in the thick forest they can be a bit difficult to spot. Of the same reason one can not expect to see the few elephants and lions living in the park.
Arusha National Park is the only place in Tanzania where you can see black & white guereza monkeys (colobus). Keep an eye on the long, white bushy tail, which is hanging from the trees. The monkeys are shy, so it is important to be quiet. It is about 55 km from Arusha to the Momella Gate. The roads in the park are steep, so the car must be in a good condition. Hideouts have been created for observation.