Based in northern Tanzania, close to the Kenyan border, Arusha National Park is ideally located, close to two airports, making it a great start or end point for any Tanzania safari trip. It is smaller than the other national parks, measuring around 200 square miles. However, it is abundant in fauna and flora with a diverse landscape, from waterfalls and lakes to craters and the impressive Mount Meru.
It is home to Momella Lakes, a collection of shallow lakes which attract huge flocks of pink flamingos, hippos, and other water birds. Along with Ngurdoto Crater, a 3km wide caldera, that is hundreds of metres deep and who’s softer, swamp-like surface, abundant in wildlife, means it can only be explored on foot. On a clear day in the park, you can enjoy picturesque views of Mount Kilimanjaro, which lies some 60km away.
Dry Season in Arusha National Park
The dry season runs from June to October, which is the coolest time of year, with daytime temperatures averaging 21°C, which drop to around 9°C at night. Arusha National Park is often missed by guests in fear they won’t spot much wildlife. Whilst it shouldn’t be compared with the likes of Lake Manyara and Tarangire, there is still plenty to see, particularly in the dry season when the vegetation is thin and the wildlife congregates around remaining water sources. The park is home to the world's largest giraffe population, over 400 bird species and large numbers of hippo, zebra, Cape Buffalo, the Colombus monkey, blue monkey, flamingo, elephant, bushbuck and much more. Due to the lesser number of predators, it is one of the few National Parks that allows walking safaris – a great way to get close to the wildlife. Expect plenty of sunshine and fewer mosquitos during these months!
Wet Season in Arusha National Park
Northern Tanzania generally has two wet seasons, from November to December and from March through until May, with a short dry spell over January and February. The rains are shorter at the start of the season, so you can still go out and enjoy daily game drives, with heavy rains developing when we get to March. However, this transforms the landscape into a luscious green expanse across the highlands, acacia woodlands and forested slopes that line the craters. The temperature is generally warmer during the wet season, around 26-29°C during the day and around 13°C at night. You may find that some lodges close from March-May. However for those that remain open, prices are likely to be very competitive, with fewer crowds in the park.
For keen birders, November – March marks the arrival of migratory birds, so can be an excellent time to visit. Likewise, if you’re keen to photograph or enjoy the best views of Mount Kilimanjaro, which lies opposite Mount Meru, December – February is the best time. Whilst game is easier to spot in the dry season, there is still plenty about the park from November through to May, but some roads may be difficult to access during the heavy rains, which could interfere with game drives.