Arusha – Safari starts here!

Arusha is the starting point for safaris in Northern Circuit Tanzania. This is a small undulating town characterized by the rich the soil, the lush vegetation and the wealth of flowers that grow everywhere. The town nestles at the foot of Mount Meru with commanding views of Kilimanjaro. Most of the year its climate is warm and sunny but without ever being excessively hot and with frequent outbursts of rain. This is coffee growing country and many of the lodges have been developed from plantation houses. The whole town has a peaceful colonial feel.

We love Arusha and don’t believe in rushing it. A day to recuperate from your flight or before leaving on safari, relaxing in the Hotel gardens or swimming in the pool or strolling around the town is a great halfway house between your safari and real life.

There is a large selection of excellent accommodation in Arusha. We do not favor large international chain hotels but can recommend a number of lodges. Moivaru Coffee Plantation has style as is well kept and widely appreciated Our favorite is River Tree Lodge half between Kilimanjaro airport and the Town, it is beautifully situated and has a real old world style and charm.

Close to Arusha between Mount Meru and Mount Kilimanjaro is the beautiful Arusha National Park.
It is excellent for walking safaris and in our view Mount Meru slightly lower than Kilimanjaro but more beautiful and totally unspoiled is the connoisseurs choice for the mountain to climb in Africa.

Getting there

Arusha has two airports, Arusha domestic airport (ARK), used on domestic routes by private charters and Regional Air, Coastal Aviation, Tropical Air,Zan Air,Fly Jet and Precision Air, the Kilimanjaro Airport (KIA or JRO) about an hour from the centre of Arusha which as of going to press is served by KLM, East African Airways, Kenya Airways. Alternatively Nairobi is only four hours away by road. You can take a private car or travel by the shuttle bus which costs approx. US$30pp. The journey is quite pleasant and the scenery beautiful.


Kilimanjaro not only is this the highest peak on the African continent; it is also the tallest free-standing (surface) mountain in the world, rising in breathtaking isolation from the surrounding coastal scrubland – elevation around 900 metres – to an imperious 5,895 metres (19,336 feet).

Kilimanjaro is one of the world’s most accessible high summits, a beacon for visitors from around the world. Most climbers reach the crater rim with little more than a walking stick, proper clothing and determination. And those who reach Uhuru Point, the actual summit, or Gillman’s Point on the lip of the crater, will have earned their climbing certificates. But there is so much more to Kili than her summit. The ascent of the slopes is a virtual climatic world tour, from the tropics to the Arctic.
Even before you cross the national park boundary (at the 2,700m contour), the cultivated foot slopes give way to lush montane forest, inhabited by elusive elephant, leopard, buffalo, the endangered Abbot’s duiker, and other small antelope and primates. Higher still lies the moorland zone, where a cover of giant heather is studded with otherworldly giant lobelias.

Above 4,000m, a surreal alpine desert supports little life other than a few hardy mosses and lichen. Then, finally, the last vestigial vegetation gives way to a winter wonderland of ice and snow – and the magnificent beauty of the roof of the continent.

About Kilimanjaro National Park
Size: 1668 sq km (641 sq miles).
Location: Northern Tanzania, near the town of Moshi.

To marangu gate is 128 km (80 miles) from Arusha….which takes 2 hrs driving and from kilimanjaro airport is about one hour drive.

What to do
Six usual trekking routes to the summit and other more-demanding mountaineering routes.
Day or overnight hikes on the Shira plateau. Nature trails on the lower reaches.
Visit the beautiful Chala crater lake on the mountain’s southeastern slopes.

When to go
At any time a year except rains season of April and May, the warmest conditions from December to February is preferable for many climbers although the dry and colder period of July to September is recommended also.

Please note:
Climbing slowly with enough time (acclimatization) is very important for allowing to adapt the mountain climate and the altitude….many days on the mountain is the high chance for reaching the summit……read the acclimatization page.
To avoid altitude sickness, allow a minimum of five to six nights, preferably even more for the climb. Take your time and enjoy the beauty of the mountain.

Arusha Park

This is a forest park with an area of 542 sq km lying between the peaks of Kilimanjaro and Meru, its an area of outstanding beauty. The interesting geology of the area is reflected in the impressive view of the ash cone and cliff face leading to the summit of Mt. Meru. Three distinct areas are to be found within Arusha National Park: Ngurdoto Crater, the Momela Lakes and the rugged Mt. Meru. The Ngurdoto Crater is 2 Km. across and 100 metres deep. The Momella Lakes 10 Km. north of Ngurdoto Crater, were formed about 1/4 million years ago, perhaps when Mt. Meru exploded and spewed volcanic debris and liquid mud over the surrounding area.The forests contain a wealth of birds and other animals, like the beautiful bushbuck easily glimpsed in the grades between the ancient cedar trees, or the black and white colobus monkeys climbing along their branches. Other animals found in the park include buffalo, hippo, reedbuck, waterbuck, elephant, giraffe, baboon, bushpig, blue monkey, vervet monkey, mongoose and warthog. Birdlife includes grebe, african pochard, ibis, heron and egret.Both Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Meru can be seen from the park when the weather is fine.

Lake Manyara Park

Lake Manyara….located beneath the cliffs of the Manyara Escarpment, on the edge of the Great Rift Valley, Lake Manyara Park offers varied ecosystems and breathtaking views. This is the forest park and famous with tree-climbing lions, they make the ancient mahogany and elegant acacia trees their home during the rainy season to avoid wet, and are well-known but rather rare feature of the northern park,. In addition to the lions the park provides the perfect introduction to Tanzania ‘s birdlife including shore birds, hippos and elephants also is the home to the largest concentration of baboons anywhere in the world, a fact that makes for interesting game viewing of large families of the primates…..

Tarangire Park

The Park covers the area of 2,600 sq km, and is 120 km from Arusha Town. It’s the 6th largest national park in Tanzania after Serengeti, Ruaha, Ngorongoro, Mkomanzi and Mikumi. Tarangire Park is most spectacular during dry season…..from September to March. During this time thousands of animals migrate from dry Masai steppe to Tarangire River looking for Water and food also at this time is easier to spot the cats because the grasses are shorter. Among other species to be seen at Tarangire are; buffalo, lion, leopard, cheetah, warthog, eland, giraffes and large numbers of impala…this park is famous for big herds of elephant and the baobab trees.

Ngorongoro Crater

The Ngorongoro Crater is often called ‘Africa’s Eden’ and the ‘8th Natural Wonder of the World,’ a visit to the crater is a main draw card for tourists coming to Tanzania and a definite world-class attraction. The Ngorongoro Conservation Area which covers 8,292 sq km is home of Ngorongoro Crater-the largest unflooded and unbroken caldera in the world…. was formed some 2.5 million years ago from a volcanic mountain sinking due to inactivity, and was initially thought to be higher than Tanzania’s famous Kilimanjaro. The crater measures 20 km’s across and the rim walls stand 600m high. The crater has evolved into a unique and integral part of Tanzania’s Eco-system. Views from within and from the rim are breathtaking. The crater houses 30,000 animals including the big five (rhino, elephant, buffalo, lion & leopard) and a large variety of birds, which rarely move from the area due to the availability of water through wet and dry seasons.

Olduvai Gorge

The museum at the Olduvai provides an excellent photographic history of research carried out in the gorge with a summary of the main archaeological findings. The importance of the area relates as much to its location as the way the strata of ash and other deposits have been layered then conveniently exposed during the formation of the gorge itself. Louis Leakey was the first of the Leakey family to visit the area in the early 1920s. His trip was funded by the British Museum in which his role was that of a research assistant. Subsequently his family has become associated with pre-historical archaeological research throughout East Africa. Outstanding discoveries include that of the famous footprints of a family of hominids dating back 3.5 million years by Mary Leakey.

Serengeti Park

Serengeti is Africa’s most famous and Tanzania’s oldest and largest park covering 14,763 sq km and is adjoining with Ngorongoro area to the south and with the Masai Mara National reserve in Kenya to the north. This is the park at the height of the migration when columns of wildebeest up to twenty-five miles long instinctual follow fresh grasses through gorges, woodlands, and crocodile-infested rivers…. The wildebeest population is about 1.5 million and several other hoofed species including zebras and Thomson’s gazelle, impala, topi, Grants gazelle, Kongoni, Eland, buffalo, giraffe, warthog also the cats. During wildebeest mating season, males circle their harems, battling junior males that threaten their dominance. This annual ritual results in an average of 8,000 births a day during calving season. The best time to view the great migration is from December through August. The Serengeti is sure to attract a string of prey such as lion, leopard, cheetah, hyena, golden jackals and bat eared foxes. Elephants are relatively scarce and the few remaining black rhinoceros are restricted to the Moru Kopjes area also this area offers the big number of birds life.

Mkomazi Park

This is the new National park located just east of the Pare Mountains in Tanzania’s Eastern Arc range, and situated just south of the border with Kenya, Mkomazi Game Reserve is the focus of an intensive breeding program to save the endangered black rhinos. Adjacent to Tsavo National Park in Kenya, Mkomazi’s tourist facilities are exceedingly sparse and limited, and travel to the area is often neglected in favour of more accessible national parks and reserves.

The savannah and grasslands around Mkomazi Game Reserve may be perfect for black rhinos, but it is dry and dusty for most of the year. When frequented water holes dry up, game becomes elusive and hard to find. Compared to larger and more populated national parks, Mkomazi Game Reserve has its own unique appeal. Wild dogs have recently been introduced to the region, and the reserve does have a wide variety of indigenous snakes.

Lake Eyasi

Lake Eyasi the mildly alkaline water lake stretched about 50Km on the south-west of Ngorongoro highlands, by road is about one and half hours from Ngorongoro main gate. The Lake situated between the Rift Valley’s Eyasi escarpment and the Kidero Mountains, the area around the Lake is home to the Hadzabe – Bushmen…… one of the primitive remaining hunter-gatherers tribe on the continent and the Datoga tribe……the Datoga people are very close to Masai as marrying many wives and keeping livestock but also ironing metals (black smith) and their womens dressing the decorated cow’s skin which Masai does n’t !

© Eliaza Mmbaga (ELLY),

Bachelor in Tourism Management, Diploma in Tourism & Travel Agency Mgmt and Licensed Mt Tour Guide,

Expedition Leader & Tour Consultant at Milimani Adventure Tours & Safaris East Africa,
P. O. Box 14510,


Mobile Phone No. +255717691807 or +255767691806


Skype: elly.mmbaga