Rift Safari
Traveling along the Rift valley:
Arusha National Park

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Arusha National Park map


Arusha National Park lies half way between Arusha Town and Kilimanjaro Airport and it can be reached by both sides in about 30-40 minutes driving. Although very beautiful, this precious little park is little visited and known obviously eclipsed by the great northern parks and peaks such as Serengeti, Ngorongoro and Kilimanjaro.
The scenario is dominated by the second highest peak of Tanzania and the fifth in Africa: Mount Meru [4566 mt.].
Mount Meru is an active volcano, famous for its perfect conic shape when sighted from Arusha but also for its legendary eruptions which about 250.000 years ago swept away the whole eastern side of the mountain throwing rocks and lava up to 70 km far originating the 7 small Momela lakes which shallow and alkaline waters, rich in algae, are nowadays an ideal habitat for flamingos, pelicans, ducks and gooses as well as many migratory waterfowls.
Up to now over 650 species of birds have been registered in park.

The most fascinating experience that one can do here and in no other park of northern Tanzania is the canoe safari in the small Momela Lake. The peace is absolute and the waterfowls recalls are the only sound beyond that of the light wind. On a clear day the horizon opens up to the snowy peak of Mount Kilimanjaro while on the opposite side dominates the massive Mount Meru.

Momela Lakes, Arusha National Park


Sightings of bushbuck, waterbucks, dik dik, zebras, buffalos and giraffes are very common. Arusha National Park is renown to host the highest population of giraffes in the world who are here relatively used to vehicles and can be closely approached and observed. Their grace is such that one would stay for hours.

Giraffes


The Momela lakes are surrounded by a lush green rainforest which hosts the very beautiful black and white colobus monkeys. These shy and gentle monkeys can usually be sighted in the morning or at dusk while moving on the highest branches of trees. Arusha National Park is very probably the only northern park where you will be able to see.
Other animals of the forest include blue monkey, baboons including a young albino-baboon, buffalos, elephants [although they prefer to stay on the Mount Meru forest higher slopes coming down only in the driest months], elusive but huge leopards and spotted hyenas.


Past the main entrance gate you will pass through an area called little Serengeti encasing all the different habitats of the great park. Buffalos herds, giraffes, zebras and families of warthogs are regularly sighted here.

Proceeding forth wards and turning right you will reach the Ngurdoto crater, a 400 mt. deep, 3 km wide caldera, which like Ngorongoro over time has become a reserve into the reserve. It hosts buffalos, occasionally elephants, baboons and warthogs. To protect this little ecosystem vehicles are not allowed inside.

black and white colobus monkeys


Walking Safari: moving towards the eastern sector of the park at the foot of Mount Meru you will encounter a huge ficus under which arch vehicles can pass through. The tree can also be reached with a good walking escorted by an armed ranger. At the beginning you will walk in a small savannah usually frequented by buffalo, giraffes and warthogs, you will then continue walking along the base of a hill with some little waterfall and then you will climb it to enjoy the below landscape. Continue walking across the forest until finally you will reach the big tree. It will take you approx. 3 - 4 hours. It is eventually possible to arrange also shorter walking if you wish so.

Il grande ficus, Arusha national park


WEATHER ARUSHA


The weather is Arusha tend to be very variable and strongly influenced by the micro-climate of the Mount Meru forest.

January,
February and March : these months tend to experience less rains compared to the months that proceed and follow them with rains typically increasing by the mid of March. Sunshine hours remain on the usual high levels and the sky tend to be clear.

April: it's the wettest month of the year with some severe downpours occurring. Sunshine hours remain high and the sky tend to be bright.

May: the risk of rains by mid-month decreases considerably. The sky start to become a bit more hazy with 6 sunshine hours out of 12 of daylights. Temperatures start to drop.

June, July, August: the risk of rains is low but the sky tend to be cloudy in the morning clearing up around noon. Sunshine hours are 6 out of 12 of daylight. Temperatures have dropped to the annual minimum levels.

September, October: the risk of rains remain low. Sunshine hours climb up to the highest annual levels and the sky is normally bright.
T
emperature start to increase as well.

November, December: The short rains normally arrive. Sunshine hours decrease slightly but the sky tend to bright.

NOTE: the bar-graph aside represents the statistical average of rainy days per month and sunshine hours per day for Arusha.
Like for the rest of the world, in Tanzania as well the climate is changing. The chart and the relative comments should be taken as a reference guide but with no absolute value
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