Located 25 km east of the town - included in the National Park are the Memella Lakes (1,524m) and Mt. Meru (4,572m) - hence Arusha offers a variety of landscapes and ecosystems including dense forests. The visitor can expect to see Elephant, Buffalo, Giraffe, Hippo and an assortment of 'Buck'; Water, Reed and Bush Buck. Arusha claims the highest proliferation of Giraffes in the world. The 3 day hike around Mt. Meru is popular with overnights at two mountain huts.
Africa's highest mountain stands a proud 5,896m and is surrounded by a national park of 756 sq. km. All routes lead to the summit circuit and twin peaks Kibo and Mawenzi (5,149 m), which are connected by an 11 km saddle. The collapsed peak Shira (3,962 m) has become a crater. Many attempt the climb but only 20-50% completes the top.
The 'endless plains' named Siringet by the wandering Masai, is a fitting title for these 14,763 sq km, that support 3 million mammals, upwards of 2 million of whom annually migrate in concentrated herds north across the Mara River. This 'the last great spectacle of nature' has a cast that includes around 1.3M Wildebeest, 0.3M Thompson's Gazelle and 0.2M Zebra. It begins in June with the return leg in October/November. The Serengeti centres on acacia savannah, with dry grasslands to the south, western corridor of wooded highland that fronts Lake Victoria and north, the wooded grasslands along the Grumeti and Mara Rivers. Around 3,000 Lions and upwards of 500 Cheetah inhabits this enormous sanctuary.
Ngorongoro lies just 60 kms NW of Lake Manyara, 190 km W of Arusha and 145 km SE of The Serengeti. At the heart of this huge and diverse conservation area (8,288 sq km) lies the incomparable crater, once a young volcano that eventually collapsed leaving a perfect calder 18 kms across and 1 km deep - the largest in the world. At the craters edge is a fantastic panorama. You enter by descending the thickly wooded rim, a mixture of Strangler Fig, Red Thorn Acacias and Rub Vines, attracting a variety of birdlife, on to the crater floor with its prominent soda lake, Magadi. The stage is set which includes Seneto Springs, Gorigor Swaps, Terai Forest and the Gol Mountains. This microcosm supports some 30,000 large mammals, including Plains Game, Lion, Leopard and Buffalo. Clambering in the trees are Olive Baboons, Blue Monkeys and Bushbabies. Olduvai is famed for its fossil finds - about 150 species of prehistoric mammals including the Leakey's discovery of 400 fragments of a skull. Discovery here began by accident back in 1911. Olduvai gains its name from the Masai word for the wild sisal that is prolific here.Accommodation: Ngorongoro Wildlife Lodge
Close to Tarangire, 130 km W of Arusha, Manyara offers 325 sq km of incredible beauty set in diverse terrain, which includes open grasslands, forests and the dominant red western rift escarpment that provides a stunning backdrop to the Lake itself. In Manyara can be found resident Baboons, also Elephants, Hippo and 'Plains Game'. This wonderland includes something unique - The tree climbing Lions. The lake attracts migratory Flamingos and over 300 different species of birdlife.Accommodation: Lake Manyara Serena Safari Lodge
Part of a far larger migratory ecosystem (that includes Lake Manyara) and dependant on the Tarangire River that flows through its centre, this National Park covers an area of 2,600 sq km and is about 120 km from Arusha.
Larger mammals vacate Tarangire in a mass exodus during the annual October and April rains, so the park is best visited once the grasses dry up, from July to September and the river is again in demand.
A truly diverse species of birdlife - numbering in excess of 300 have been observed. With an altitude of 1,110 m terrain consists of woodland, marked by several hills, the grasslands of Kitibong and Gursi littered with Acacia trees and the Larmakau 'Hippo' swamp to the South. Giraffe, Elephant, Buffalo, Wildebeest, Zebra, Gazelles and Ostrich are all found here along with the occasional Rhino and Leopard. There are freshwater pools at Mkungunero.Note:tsetsefly Area
Remote Ruaha, covering some 12,950 sq km, 625 kms from Dar es Salaam, derives its name from the mighty Ruaha river that forms part of its South-eastern boundary. Ruaha can only be visited in the dry season July-December. The park's altitude (750m - 1,900m) creates four different flora zones: river valleys, savannahs, moimba woodland and undulating bus country. Over 400 species of birdlife have been sighted and its proliferation of large mammals includes Elephant, Giraffe, Buffalo, Zebra, numerous 'Plains Gam' Antelope, the occasional Leopard and Cheetah. The river is rich in Hippo and Crocodile. Since the only lodge is unfenced, game roams freely there at night.Accommodation: Ruaha River Camp
At twice the size of Denmark, Selous (55,000 sq km) is the second largest 'park' in the world, said to be home to over one million mammals. Of this vast wilderness only the Beho Beho region, north of the Rufiji River is open to tourists. The best time is July-October, though precaution needs to be taken since the area is infested with the Tsetse.
Selous is renown for its large numbers of Elephant and Rhino, which declined drastically in the 1980's as a result of poaching, yet now herds of Elephants are again on the increase. Some 400 species of birdlife have been recorded including the elusive Eleonora's Falcon. The real showpiece of the park has to be the Rufiji which flows through its heart and offers (time and again) the spectacle of large numbers of Hippo's gallivanting about, whilst Crocodiles bask like disguarded rough boulders on its banks.
The Rufiji and its dependant's create the largest river catchment in East Africa. Highlights include Stiegler's Gorge about 100 m high, providing a dramatic river bottleneck and 20 km downstream the 5 swampy Lakes that this river system feeds before leaving the reserve. Here a variety of 'Plains Game' including the rare Sable Antelope, Greater Kudu and Waterbuck refresh themselves. Hot Sulphur Springs bubble up at Maji Moto, near Beho Beho - some just cool enough to swim in! Walking safaris are organised in this reserve, but expect the wildlife to be shy. Hunting Dog, Spotted Hyena, Lion and Leopard have been sighted along with Buffalo and Elephant.
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