Arusha National Park
For those of you that like to explore different area’s in small sections, and not be confined to a safari vehicle for long periods, Arusha National Park and other well kept secrets toward the park and onto West-Kilimanjaro are definitely worth putting some days aside for.
The drive (from Arusha) itself is short; coffee plantations and small towns with busy daily life keep you entertained for the 50 minutes till you turn off onto a gravel road and start ascending towards the park gate.
Little Serengeti will appear out of the trees and is usually very rewarding, slow moving giraffe stride across the open grass land, small herds of zebra graze along with water buck, wart hogs take off at high speed with tail raised as if on an electric wire. It’s the perfect start to any Safari with the added bonus of having the freedom to make a half day walking with an armed ranger.
The park has three distinct zones: Ngurdoto Crater, Momella Lakes, which are a group of shallow alkaline lakes fed by underground streams, and Mount Meru, one of the most rewarding mountains to climb in Africa. Full day walks are also possible, a round trip through the lower reaches of Meru are spectacular with the wonderful fairytale like rain forest with hanging mose( Old mans beard). Teracoo flash through the canopy overhead in blazing blues, also black and white colobus monkeys are a common site.
If you are thinking of trekking up the slopes of Mt. Meru to her summit (4566 m.) which is reached along screed knife ridged slops then allow yourself the extra day to enjoy the return through the rain forest. The climb can be done in 3 days but this will leave you feeling tired for a day afterwards as you head to the summit then ascend to the park gate in one day. It’s a lot of down hill for anybody. The 4 day gives you the feedom to drop down part way then continue the following day for a easy descent through the rain forest.
Mt. Meru’s impressive peak is standing at 4566 meters above sea-level. For those who are in good shape and like a physical work out, this mountain can be climbed as a 3 day option. You reach the summit on the night of day two and descend to main gate on day three!! Although doable, normally leaves a few sore muscles and tired knees from so much down hill in one go, defeats the object if acclimatizing and training for a Kilmanjaro climb. 4 days trekking is for sure what we recommend, allowing time for altitude side trips to Little Meru and to soak in amazing views on the way up from every vantage point – best views ever of Kilimanjaro. Accommodation in mountain huts.
- Photographic wildlife safaris
- Half day walking safaris with armed rangers
- Canoeing safaris around Momela lake, get close to water buffalo, hippo and many types of water birds, including lesser east African flamingo.
Mt Meru, lakes, rolling hills, lush forest, ngurdoto crater, little serengeti, zebra, waterbuck, bushbuck, warthog, wild pig, giraffe, dik dik, elephant, buffalo, hippo, hyena, leopard, sykes ( blue) monkey, vervet monkey, baboon, black and white colobus, bush babies. Great birding, butterflies, chameleons and smaller reptiles. Lodge accommodation, public camps in park.
Best time to visit
Year round for game activities – for climbing Mt Meru same as Kilimanjaro July – early Oct and Dec – March
Tarangire National Park
Perfectly located for that short 2 or 3 day safari. Only 2 hrs leisurely drive from Arusha on good sealed roads will see you in the park gates. The permanent water supply of the park is a natural magnet and during the dry season, the animal population here rivals that of the Serengeti.
Prime months to visit are between September and December, Manyara starts to struggle a little for good water and grazing. The elephant population in the Tarangire is very concentrated in these months and if self driving precaution should be taken at all times.
It’s a great park to visit with some nice suprises, lion can also be seen taking a lazy nap in the limb of a tree, birding is also exceptional. There are many posibilities after visiting Tarangire to continuue into one of the Tulashashe safaris combined safari.
Walking through palm bush land in the direction of Manyara, passing by many traditonal villagers(the real thing), feeling the earth shake as a heard of Zebra disappear into a cloud of dust. Walk up through the rift valley then from the comfort of a fully equipped mountain bike, take a tour through the Mbulu area, it’s hard to believe you are in Africa.
Tarangire river, plains, woodland, baobabs, swamps, view massive herds of elephant, along with buffalo, lion, cheetah, wild cat, hyena, leopard, greater and lesser kudu, wild hunting dog, eland, thomson, grants, impala gazelle, zebra, waterbuck, bushbuck, warthog, wild pig, giraffe, dik dik, sykes ( blue) monkey, vervet monkey, baboon, mongoose, bush babies python, excellent birding: Tented camp accommodation and lodges in the park.
Public camping both in and out of the park boundaries, for more information see our Hotels & Lodges section..
Best time to visit
August – through to February, elephants mass in the dry season due to the continuing water source from the Tarangire river.
Hemingway described Lake Manyara National Park’s magnificent hunting country in “The Green Hills of Africa”. Mahogany, sausage tree and croton are alive with blue monkeys and vervets. Elephants feed off fallen fruit while bushbuck, waterbuck, baboons, aardvark, civet, the shy pangolin and leopard as well as the black rhino, all make their home in the forest.
Manyara is sanctuary to elusive buffalo and hippo, giraffe, impala, zebra and the famous residents – tree climbing lions. Lake Manyara itself is a magnet for birdlife and a kaleidoscope of different species can be found around its shores, including huge flocks of flamingoes.
Excellent for photographic safaris, night game drives, walking safaris outside the park boundaries, cultural safaris. Exciting night drives! Follow hippo from the safety of a safari vehicle, experience the milky-way with the song of the night chorus…
Lake Manyara, impressive views of the Great Rift valley, acacia woodland, baobabs, mud flats, resident elephant, buffalo, lion, hyena, leopard, zebra, waterbuck, bushbuck, warthog, wild pig, giraffe, dik dik, very large primate numbers sykes ( blue) monkey, vervet monkey, baboon, excellent birding.
Best time to visit
The Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA) is a huge area containing active volcanoes, mountains, archeological sites, rolling plains, forests, lakes, dunes and of course, Ngorongoro Crater and Olduvai Gorge.
The views at the rim of Ngorongoro Crater are sensational. On the crater floor, grassland blends into swamps, lakes, rivers, woodland and mountains – all a heaven for wildlife, including the densest predator population in Africa.
The crater is home to up to 25,000 large mammals, mainly grazers – gazelle, buffalo, eland, hartebeest and warthog. You will not find giraffe as there is not much to eat at tree level, or topi, because the competition with wildebeest is too fierce, nor will you find impala. The crater elephants are strangely, mainly bulls. There are a small number of black rhinos here too. The birdlife is largely seasonal and is also affected by the ratio of soda to fresh water in Lake Magadi on the crater floor.
In the northern, remote part of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, you will find Olmoti and Empakaai Craters, Lake Natron and Oldoinyo Lengai, Mountain of God, as named by the Maasai. Lake Natron is the only known breeding ground for East Africa’s flamingoes.
The ruins of a terraced stone city and complex irrigation system lie on the eastern side of Empakaai – the Engakura Ruins. Their origins are a mystery as there is no tradition of stone building in this part of Africa. Olduvai Gorge Olduvai, more accurately called Oldupai after the wild sisal in the area, is the site of some of the most important fossil hominid finds of all time – “Nutcracker Man” or Australopithecus boisei who lived 1.75 million years ago – by Leaky There is a small informative museum located at the visitor center. The gorge is a treasure trove of archeological sites filled with fossils, settlement remains and stone artifacts. Lecture tours are offered.
- Vehicle photographic safaris,
- Walking safaris through out the conservation area,
- Visit the Elephant caves in the NCA forest reserve,
- Walk through the crater rim, lake Ndutu, crater highlands walks guided by Maasai, cultural safaris.
Ngorongoro Crater, Gol mountains, Nasera rock cave paintings, Olduvai gorge the cradle of mankind, crater highlands, Oldmoti crater, Empakaai crater, woodland, grass land, plains and bush, resident elephant, black rhino, buffalo, lion, hyena, leopard, cheetah, zebra, wildebeest, waterbuck, warthog, wild pig, giraffe, dik dik, sykes ( blue) monkey, vervet monkey, baboon, birding, python.
Luxury lodge accommodation around the crater rim, luxury tented camps and lodges in Ndutu area, public camping on the crater rim and B2B mobile camps with donkey or vehicle support for walking safaris through out the NCA.
Best time to visit
Year round for the crater, for walking safaris, June – early Oct and Dec through to March, Nov – Dec in areas surrounding the NCA good chances of coming across the migration and many plains game wildlife.
The name Olduvai originated from a European misspelling of Oldupai, the correct Maasai word for this region of great historical importance – named after the wild sisal plant fiber growing in abundance in the gorge.
The archaeological site of Olduvai Gorge is located in the Eastern Serengeti in Northern Tanzania within the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. The gorge is a steep sided 4 to 8- kilometers (30 mile) long ravine, which forms part of the Great Rift Valley. It is situated on a series of fault lines which, along with centuries of erosion, has revealed fossils and remnants of early humankind.
Excavations in the early twentieth century by the famous archaeologist, Dr Louis Leakey, uncovered some of the earliest remains of fossil hominids at Olduvai. Seventeen years after the first discovery of human forms, Leakey’s wife, Mary, discovered the unmistakable fossilized footprints of a human ancestor who had walked along a riverbank three million years ago.
Since then, excavators working in Olduvai have found skeletal remains of a number of ancient hominids – Homo habilis, Homo erectus and Australopithecus Boisei. Old campsites and what is believed to be a butchery site, as well as a loosely built circle of lava blocks was also found suggesting that crude shelters were also built here.
Other findings include hunting weapons, basic tools and remains of dead animals once killed by humans. There is a museum and regular interpretive talks about the history of the gorge as it has slowly been unraveled up to this present time.
Make sure you include a visit to this historical site, often called “The Cradle of Mankind”, on your safari of the North!