Arusha National Park


About Arusha National Park

Kilimanjaro's unassuming cousin, Mount Meru - the fifth highest in Africa at 4,566 meters (14,990 feet) above sea level - is the scenic focal point of Arusha National Park, the closet national park to the northern Tanzania 'Safari Capital' of Arusha. And though is often the opportunity to explore a beguiling diversity of habitats within a few hours.

The entrance gate leads into shadowy montane forest inhabited by inquisitive blue monkeys and colorful turacos and trogans - the only place on the northern safari circuit where the acrobatic black and white colobus monkey is easily seen. In the midst of the forest stands the spectacular Ngurdoto Crater, whose steep rocky cliffs enclose a wide marshy floor dotted with herds of buffalo and warthog.

Further north, rolling grassy hills enclose the tranquil beauty of the Momela Lakes, each one a different hue of green or blue. Shallows tinged pink with thousands of Flamingoes, the lakes support a rich selection of resident and migrant waterfowl, and shaggy waterbucks display their large lyre-shaped horns on the watery fringes. Giraffes glide across the grassy hills, between grazing Zebras, while wide-eyed dik-diks dart into scrubby bush like overgrown hares on spindly legs.

Elephants and uncommon here, and lions absent altogether, but leopards and spotted hyenas may be seen slinking around in the early morning and late afternoon. It is also at dusk and dawn that the veil of cloud on the eastern horizon is most likely to clear, revealing the majestic snow-capped peaks of Kilimanjaro, only 50km (30 miles) distant.

Size

542 sq km (209 sq miles)

Location

Northern Tanzania, Northeast of Arusha Town.

Getting there

An easy 40-mintues drive from Arusha. Approximately 60km (35 miles) from Kilimanjaro International Airport. The lakes, forest and Ngurdoto Crater can all be visited in the course of a half-day outing appended to an extended safari through northern Tanzania.

What to do

Game drive, canoeing, walking safaris (through different vegetation and habitats), Mt Meru climb (good acclimatization for Kilimanjaro Mountain) view points and picnic sites.

When to go

To climb Mt. Meru, June - February although it may rain in November. Best views of Kilimanjaro December - February.

Accommodation

Inside the Park are two private lodges, two rest house, three public and two special campsites and two mountain accommodation centers. Many other private lodges lie just outside the park and in Arusha Town.



Lake Manyara National Park


About Lake Manyara National Park

Stretching for 50km along the base of the rusty-gold 600-metre high Rift Valley escarpment, Lake Manyara is a scenic gem, with a setting extolled by Ernest Hemingway as "the loveliest I had seen in Africa". The compact game-viewing circuit through Manyara offers a virtual microcosm of the Tanzanian safari experience. From the entrance gate, the road winds through an expanse of lush jungle-like groundwater forest where hundred-strong baboon troops lounge nonchalantly along the roadside, blue monkeys scamper nimbly between the ancient mahogany trees, dainty bushbuck tread warily through the shadows, and outsized forest hornbills honk cacophonously in the high canopy. Contrasting with the intimacy of the forest is the grassy floodplain and its expansive views eastward, across the alkaline lake, to the jagged blue volcanic peaks that rise from the endless Maasai Steppes. Large buffalo, wildebeest and zebra herds congregate on these grassy plains, as do giraffes - some so dark in coloration that they appear to be black from a distance. Inland of the floodplain, a narrow belt of acacia woodland is the favoured haunt of Manyara's legendary tree-climbing lions and impressively tusked elephants. Squadrons of banded mongoose dart between the acacias, while the diminutive Kirk's dik-dik forages in their shade. Pairs of klipspringer are often seen silhouetted on the rocks above a field of searing hot springs that steams and bubbles adjacent to the lakeshore in the far south of the park. Manyara provides the perfect introduction to Tanzania's birdlife. More than 400 species have been recorded, and even a first-time visitor to Africa might reasonably expect to observe 100 of these in one day. Highlights include thousands of pink-hued flamingos on their perpetual migration, as well as other large waterbirds such as pelicans, cormorants and storks.

Size

330 sq km (127 sq miles), of which up to 200 sq km (77 sq miles) is lake when water levels are high.

Location

In northern Tanzania. The entrance gate lies 1.5 hours (126km/80 miles) west of Arusha along a newly surfaced road, close to the ethnically diverse market town of Mto wa Mbu.

Getting there

By road, charter or scheduled flight from Arusha, en route to Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater.

What to do

Game drives, night game drives, canoeing when the water levels is sufficiently high. Cultural tours, picnicking, bush lunch/dinner, mountain bike tours, abseiling and forest walks on the escarpment outside the park.

When to go

Dry season (July-October) for large mammals;
Wet season (November-June) for bird watching, the waterfalls and canoeing.

Accommodation

One luxury treehouse-style camp, public bandas and campsites inside the park.
One luxury tented camp and three lodges perched on the Rift Wall outside the park overlooking the lake.
Several guesthouses and campsites in nearby Mto wa Mbu.



Serengeti National Park


About Serengeti National Park

A million wildebeest... each one driven by the same ancient rhythm, fulfilling its instinctive role in the inescapable cycle of life: a frenzied three-week bout of territorial conquests and mating; survival of the fittest as 40km (25 mile) long columns plunge through crocodile-infested waters on the annual exodus north; replenishing the species in a brief population explosion that produces more than 8,000 calves daily before the 1,000 km (600 mile) pilgrimage begins again.
Tanzania's oldest and most popular national park, also a world heritage site and recently proclaimed a 7th world wide wonder, the Serengeti is famed for its annual migration, when some six million hooves pound the open plains, as more than 200,000 zebra and 300,000 Thomson's gazelle join the wildebeest's trek for fresh grazing. Yet even when the migration is quiet, the Serengeti offers arguably the most scintillating game-viewing in Africa: great herds of buffalo, smaller groups of elephant and giraffe, and thousands upon thousands of eland, topi, kongoni, impala and Grant's gazelle. The spectacle of predator versus prey dominates Tanzania's greatest park. Golden-maned lion prides feast on the abundance of plain grazers. Solitary leopards haunt the acacia trees lining the Seronera River, while a high density of cheetahs prowls the southeastern plains. Almost uniquely, all three African jackal species occur here, alongside the spotted hyena and a host of more elusive small predators, ranging from the insectivorous aardwolf to the beautiful serval cat.
But there is more to Serengeti than large mammals. Gaudy agama lizards and rock hyraxes scuffle around the surfaces of the park's isolated granite koppies. A full 100 varieties of dung beetle have been recorded, as have 500-plus bird species, ranging from the outsized ostrich and bizarre secretary bird of the open grassland, to the black eagles that soar effortlessly above the Lobo Hills. As enduring as the game-viewing is the liberating sense of space that characterises the Serengeti Plains, stretching across sunburnt savannah to a shimmering golden horizon at the end of the earth. Yet, after the rains, this golden expanse of grass is transformed into an endless green carpet flecked with wildflowers. And there are also wooded hills and towering termite mounds, rivers lined with fig trees and acacia woodland stained orange by dust. Popular the Serengeti might be, but it remains so vast that you may be the only human audience when a pride of lions masterminds a siege, focussed unswervingly on its next meal.
Note; The route and timing of the wildebeest migration is unpredictable. Allow at least three days to be assured of seeing them on your visit - longer if you want to see the main predators as well.

Size

14,763 sq km (5,700 sq miles).

Location

335km (208 miles) from Arusha, stretching north to Kenya and bordering Lake Victoria to the west.

Getting there

Scheduled and charter flights from Arusha, Lake Manyara and Mwanza.
Drive from Arusha, Lake Manyara, Tarangire or Ngorongoro Crater.

What to do

Hot air balloon safaris, walking safari, picnicking, game drives, bush lunch/dinner can be arranged with hotels/tour operators. Maasai rock paintings and musical rocks.
Visit neighbouring Ngorongoro Crater, Olduvai Gorge, Ol Doinyo Lengai volcano and Lake Natron's flamingos.

When to go

To follow the wildebeest migration, December-July. To see predators, June-October.

Accommodation

Four lodges, six luxury tented camps and camp sites scattered through the park; one new lodge will be opened next season (Bilila Lodge); one luxury camp, a lodge and two tented camps just outside.



Tarangire National Park


About Tarangire National Park

Day after day of cloudless skies. The fierce sun sucks the moisture from the landscape, baking the earth a dusty red, the withered grass as brittle as straw. The Tarangire River has shrivelled to a shadow of its wet season self. But it is choked with wildlife. Thirsty nomads have wandered hundreds of parched kilometres knowing that here, always, there is water. Herds of up to 300 elephants scratch the dry river bed for underground streams, while migratory wildebeest, zebra, buffalo, impala, gazelle, hartebeest and eland crowd the shrinking lagoons. It's the greatest concentration of wildlife outside the Serengeti ecosystem - a smorgasbord for predators - and the one place in Tanzania where dry-country antelope such as the stately fringe-eared oryx and peculiar long-necked gerenuk are regularly observed. During the rainy season, the seasonal visitors scatter over a 20,000 sq km (12,500 sq miles) range until they exhaust the green plains and the river calls once more. But Tarangire's mobs of elephant are easily encountered, wet or dry. The swamps, tinged green year round, are the focus for 550 bird varieties, the most breeding species in one habitat anywhere in the world. On drier ground you find the Kori bustard, the heaviest flying bird; the stocking-thighed ostrich, the world's largest bird; and small parties of ground hornbills blustering like turkeys. More ardent bird-lovers might keep an eye open for screeching flocks of the dazzlingly colourful yellow-collared lovebird, and the somewhat drabber rufous-tailed weaver and ashy starling - all endemic to the dry savannah of north-central Tanzania. Disused termite mounds are often frequented by colonies of the endearing dwarf mongoose, and pairs of red-and-yellow barbet, which draw attention to themselves by their loud, clockwork-like duetting. Tarangire's pythons climb trees, as do its lions and leopards, lounging in the branches where the fruit of the sausage tree disguises the twitch of a tail.

Size

2850 sq km (1,096 sq miles).

Location

118 km (75 miles) southwest of Arusha

Getting there

Easy drive from Arusha or Lake Manyara following a surfaced road to within 7km (four miles) of the main entrance gate; can continue on to Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti.
Charter flights from Arusha and the Serengeti.

What to do

Guided walking safaris.
Day trips to Maasai and Barabaig villages, as well as to the hundreds of ancient rock paintings in the vicinity of Kolo on the Dodoma Road.

When to go

Year round but dry season (June - September) for sheer numbers of animals.

Accommodation

Two lodges, one tented lodge, two luxury tented camps inside the park, another half-dozen exclusive lodges and tented camps immediately outside its borders.
Several camp sites in and around the park.



Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority


About Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority

The Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority (NCAA) is a conservation area and a UNESCO World Heritage Site located 180 km (110 mi) west of Arusha in the Crater Highlands area of Tanzania. The area is named after Ngorongoro Crater, a large volcanic caldera within the area. The conservation area is administered by the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority, an arm of the Tanzanian government, and its boundaries follow the boundary of the Ngorongoro Division of the Arusha Region.
It has been reported in 2009 that the government authority has proposed a reduction of the population of the conservation area from 65,000 to 25,000. There are plans being considered for 14 more luxury tourist hotels, so people can access "the unparalleled beauty of one of the world's most unchanged wildlife sanctuaries". None of the senior level positions in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area is yet held by a member of the local Maasai pastoralists.

Size

8,292 sq km (3,202 sq mi).

Location

180 km west of Arusha in the Crater Highlands area of Tanzania

Getting there

The best option to get to Arusha is to fly into Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO), which is situated about 46km/29mi from Arusha. It is also possible to fly into Julius Nyerere International Airport (DAR), near Dar es Salaam and fly on to Arusha Airport (ARK)..

What to do

Tanzania offers numerous options for specialist safaris and activities, whether you wish to drive, walk, ride, fish, fly camp, ride in a hot-air balloon, dive, kite surf or go trekking after chimpanzees... For any of these, or other interests that you wish to pursue (e.g. special interest fauna, or historical or cultural interests), please do discuss with us and we will do our best to help you get the most out of your trip.

When to go

Best time to visit Ngorongoro. Wildlife viewing inside the Ngorongoro Crater is superb at all times. The dry season (June through September) is best, since animals are more easily seen.

Accommodation

Two lodges, one tented lodge, two luxury tented camps inside the park, another half-dozen exclusive lodges and tented camps immediately outside its borders.
Several camp sites in and around the park.