The closest national park to the town of Arusha, Arusha National Park is often overlooked by safari goers despite offering the opportunity to explore an array of different habitats within a few hours.

The horizon is dominated by the spectacular sight of Mount Meru, Africa’s fifth largest peak. Parts of the mountain are within the park boundary, offering great views of Mount Kilimanjaro to the East. In the midst of the forest stands the spectacular Ngurdoto Crater, with its steep, rocky cliffs and wide marshy floor. Further north, rolling grassy hills enclose the tranquil beauty of the Momela Lakes, each one a different hue of green or blue.

There is no shortage of wildlife to view within Arusha National Park. Keep an eye out for giraffes, zebra, dik-dik, buffalo and warthog. It is also a great place to seek out leopards and spotted hyenas, which are most likely to be seen in the early morning and late afternoon. It is also the only place on the northern safari circuit where the acrobatic black-and-white Colubus monkey is easily seen.

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, the eastern Serengeti plains provide the best opportunities for wildlife viewing as hundreds of thousands of the migratory animals are concentrated in this part attracted by the short palatable grass.