Arusha, the gateway to the world famous game sanctuaries of Serengeti, Ngorongoro, Tarangire and Lake Manyara, is one of the oldest towns in Tanzania. From a tiny German garrison in 1900, Arusha has grown to become the tourist capital of Tanzania with a population of about 400,000 people. At 1390 meters above sea level, Arusha enjoys a very agreeable climate throughout the year. Positioned at the centre of Africa between the Cape and Cairo on the Great North Road, Arusha is the administrative seat of the East African Community made up of Tanzania, Kenya Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan.

Arusha offers an excellent opportunity for authentic souvenirs shopping, including the bold Makonde carvings, and the colourful Tinga Tinga works and batiks. Tanzanite the native gemstone of Arusha and one of the most beautiful and exciting gems to come from Africa, is sold in all gemstone shops in town alongside other locally mined stones like Ruby, Rhodolite and Tourmaline.

Tanzanite was first discovered in 1967, some 40 kilometers to the southeast of Arusha at Mererani. To date Mererani remains the only commercially viable source for Tanzanite in the world. The name Tanzanite was named after Tanzania.

Arusha National Park is one of the smaller park with area of 137 square kilometer and most beautiful National Parks in Tanzania. Situated only 37 km from Arusha town, the park is very popular for day trips.

The Ngurdoto Crater, Momela Lakes, Little Serengeti, the highland montane forest and the Mount Meru (4566 meters above sea level) are the five exceptional features of the park. Mount Kilimanjaro, towering at 5895 m to the east, can be visible on clear days from many locations in the park. One of the special attractions of the park is the opportunity to combine game drives and a nature walk in the many places where visitors can leave their safari vehicles and walk in the fresh air.

The most common animals found in this park are the black and white colobus monkeys, the Vervet monkeys, the red forest duikers, hippos, elephants, giraffes, buffaloes, bushbucks and sometimes the leopard. More than 400 species of birds have been recorded in the park including Eurasian migrants, which can be seen between October and April. Mount Meru 4566 m can be climbed in three to four days, with overnight accommodation in alpine huts on your way up and down.

MKOMAZI NATIONAL PARK

Mkomazi National Park bordering Kenya’s Tsavo West National Park in northeastern Tanzania, Mkomazi which was commissioned as a Game Reserve in 1951 has been gazetted a National Park from 2008. Located to the east of Pare Mountains near Same town, about 190kms from Arusha, Mkomazi National Park lies along the edge of a semi-arid savanna arc that stretches into Kenya’s Tsavo West, falling into the Mkomazi-Tsavo Ecosystem, which is the second largest Trans boundary ecosystem in East Africa after the famous Serengeti – Maasai Mara. Before coming under Tanzania National Parks authority, Mkomazi, with an area of 3,245sq km, was managed by the government as a game reserve. As a national park, Mkomazi have the potential to develop into a glorious sanctuary where visitors will have the opportunity to explore more of the Tanzania’s hidden natural riches.

 

Umba River on Mkomazi’s south eastern border and other water holes keep the park teeming with small and large mammals, including silver backed jackal, lion, cheetah, leopard, giraffe, buffalo, elephant and zebra, with the rare gerenuk, lesser kudu and fringe-eared oryx easily sighted.

There is a sanctuary for the endangered black rhino and another one for the wild dog created within the national park to protect these rare species. The Mkomazi Rhino Sanctuary has attained international renown for rehabilitating rhino, and it offers viewing and educational opportunities for visitors. Mkomazi is a fascinating destination for bird watchers, boasting more than 450 avian species including some Eurasian migratory species.

Quite a few activities can be conducted in Mkomazi, including game drives, walking safaris, mountain hikes and bird watching. Mkomazi can be visited throughout the year, with late June to early September best for large mammal and bird watching, Mkomazi National Park would smoothly fit into the Arusha – Usambara – Tanga – Pangani – Saadani – Dar es Salaam / Zanzibar circuit, or may be visited as a single destination from Arusha or after Kilimanjaro climbing.

MOUNT KILIMANJARO NATIONAL PARK

Tanzania is home to the highest mountain in Africa. Mount Kilimanjaro (5895 meters), Located in northern Tanzania, in the Mount Kilimanjaro National Park. Also is the highest free standing mountain in the world. Despite its height Mount Kilimanjaro is one of the world’s most accessible high summits, with most climbers reaching the peak (Uhuru Peak) with proper gear and determination. Also known as “The Roof of Africa” and people travel from all over the world to conquer her.

Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is a virtual climatic world tour, from the tropical rain forest on the lower slopes, alpine heath, bare alpine desert and finally the wintry summit zone of snow and ice, just 3 degrees south of the Equator. Mount Kilimanjaro has six trekking routes Umbwe, Shira, Lemosho, Rongai, Machame, and the Marangu Route which is the easier one. Depending on which route one wants to take, the climb of Mount Kilimanjaro can take between four to seven nights on the mountain. The most popular routes are Marangu and Machame. On the Marangu Route, accommodation is in alpine huts while on Machame Route it is camping throughout. While expert guides and porters will accompany you on your climb, no technical equipment is required on these routes.

NGORONGORO CONSERVATION AREA (NGORONGORO CRATER)

A UNESCO protected World Heritage Site and an International Biosphere Reserve, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area is situated some 190 km. west of Arusha, between Lake Manyara and Serengeti National Parks. Covering approximately 8,292 square km, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area consists of the Ngorongoro Crater itself, the Olduvai Gorge and Ndutu, the Empakai crater and the Oldonyo Lengai Mountain.

The Ngorongoro Conservation Area is a pioneering experiment in multi-purpose land use where people (the Maasai), their livestock and wildlife coexist and share the same protected habitat. Wild animals are protected as in the National Parks. The craters of Ngorongoro and Empakai are reserved exclusively for wildlife, while the rest of the Conservation Area is shared by wildlife, people and livestock. The Maasai, the main residents of Ngorongoro, are pastoralists who move widely with their herds of cattle, sheep, goat and donkeys in search of pasture and water. In recent years the Maasai have been encouraged to work on the land and supplement their traditional diet of milk and meat.

NGORONGORO CRATER

The Ngorongoro Crater, which is the central attraction in the area, is the largest Caldera in the world that has its walls intact. The Ngorongoro Crater floor, a sheer drop of 610 metres below the crater rim, has an area of 304 sq. km, with a diameter of 19 km. The sight of the Ngorongoro Crater is simply stunning. “It is impossible to give a fair description of the size and beauty of the Crater, for there is nothing with which one can compare it. It is one of the Wonders of the World…” once wrote Professor Bernhard Grzimek. The crater floor is home to tens of thousands of plains animals, including wildebeest, zebra, gazelles, elands, and a large predator population of lions, hyena and jackal which can all be viewed at close quarters. The rare black rhino can be viewed here, and if you are lucky you can see cheetah and leopard. The rainy season is between November and May. The altitude at the crater rim is about 2286 metres above sea level, and temperatures can get quite chilly in the evening, especially between May to September.

NDUTU

Ndutu is located in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, in the southeastern plains of the Serengeti ecosystem. The plains around Ndutu are the main holding ground for migratory animals where vast herds congregate and linger for more than four months, from December to April, before they start moving across the Serengeti in search of greener pastures and water. Ndutu area forms an important part of the Serengeti ecosystem, in particular the short grass plains which provide calving grounds for wildebeest and other migratory animals.

SERENGETI NATIONAL PARK

Covering an area of 14,763 square kilometre, Serengeti National Park is the second largest National Park in Tanzania after Ruaha. The park is located some 320 km to the northwest of Arusha, lying in a high plateau between the Ngorongoro highlands and the Kenya/ Tanzania border, and extending almost to Lake Victoria to the west.

Also named “endless plains” by the Maasai people, you immediately experience this vastness as you enter the southeastern plains of the park from Ngorongoro.

Declared a protected area in 1921 and gazetted as a National park in 1951, Serengeti is the oldest National Park in Tanzania and undoubtedly one of the most famous wildlife sanctuaries in the world. The principal features of the Serengeti are the short and long grass plains in the south and east, the acacia Savannah in the central areas, the hilly and densely wooded areas in the north and the extensive woodland in the west.

There is a variety of scenery, includes the plains, lakes, hills and the rock outcrops called kopjes. The main game drive areas in the Serengeti are the Seronera Valley, the Western Corridor, and Lobo or northern Serengeti. The Seronera valley in central Serengeti endowed with permanent surface water attract a large concentration of wildlife throughout the year. Common animals that can be seen here are lions, buffaloes, impalas, hippos, waterbucks, elephants, cheetahs and the leopard. From December, when the long rains start, to May, eastern Serengeti plains provide the best opportunities for game viewing as hundreds of thousands of the migratory animals are concentrated in this part attracted by the short palatable grass.

Between May and July, when drought sets in, Serengeti is the site of one of the most breathtaking events in the animal kingdom – the migration of thousands of wildebeest heading southwest, north or west in search of water and green pastures. The Lobo area remains rich in wildlife during the dry months of August to November when most of the game has moved from the grass plains in the south. This is also true of the Western Corridor towards Lake Victoria when the migration usually lingers in the area between June and July. Serengeti provides sanctuary to the highest concentration of plains animals in the world. Survey estimates indicate an animal population of over 4 million including 3,000 lions, 1,800,000 wildebeest, 400,000 Thomson‘s and Grant‘s gazelle, 800,000 zebras. There are over 400 species of birds in the Serengeti.

TARANGIRE NATIONAL PARK

Tarangire National Park lies 120 km south of Arusha, along The Great North Road highway, and is very popular for day trips from the town. Tarangire offers a wide variety of wildlife in its area of 2,850 sq. km. As in all ecosystems, the vegetation and the types of animals you find are closely correlated. The principal features of the park are the flood plains and the grassland, mainly comprising of various types of acacia trees, and baobabs, tamarind and the sausage trees.

The Tarangire River, after which the park is named, provides the only permanent water for wildlife in the area. When the Maasai Steppes dry up with the end of the long rains in June, migratory animals return to the Tarangire River.

This period stretches between June and October and it is the best season for game viewing in Tarangire. The most common animals found in the park include zebras, wildebeest, lions, leopards, waterbucks, giraffe, elephants, gazelles, impala, gerenuk, lesser kudu and the beautiful fringe-eared oryx. The park is famous for large group of Elephants roaming together than other parks, abundance of baobabs tree and you may be lucky to spot the tree-climbing python, also the greater kudu and the roan antelope which are rare species in Northern Tanzania. Over 550 bird species have been recorded in the Park.

LAKE MANYARA NATIONAL PARK

Located 125 km west of Arusha town, nestling by the wall of the Great Rift Valley, Lake Manyara National Park is one of the oldest and most popular sanctuaries in East Africa. The park has a large variety of habitats, making it possible to support a wealth of wildlife in its small area. The main habitats include the shallow soda lake itself which occupies 77% of the National Park total area of 330 sq. km, the ground water forest, open grassland, acacia woodland and the rift wall.

The most famous spectacle in the park is the tree-climbing lions, which are occasionally seen along branches of acacia trees. Other animals found in the park include buffalo, elephants, leopards, baboons, impala, giraffes, zebra, wildebeest, ostrich and hippos. Popularly referred to as an ornithologist’s paradise, Lake Manyara National Park contains over 400 bird species found in most savanna and river habitats in East Africa. Common water birds to be seen here are pelicans, spoonbills, Egyptian geese, hammerkops and the migratory flamingoes, which arrive in hundreds of thousands creating one of Africa’s great natural sights over the soda lake.

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