Arusha Park is just a few kilometres north east of Arusha and has a rich variety of wildlife, despite the small size of the park. Having climbed through bustling villages and even a massive new Tanzanian university, you hardly have to get beyond the Parks bright new entrance gate before you're overlooking 'Little Serengeti' which is well worth a scan. With a high chance of seeing herds of buffalo, zebra, the odd giraffe and great bird life, it's an inspiring start to any safari.
You soon move into montane forest inhabited by inquisitive blue monkeys and the only place on the northern safari circuit where the acrobatic black-and-white colobus monkey is easily seen. In fact having been made into stars by a classic Hugo van Lawick film, they are almost falling over themselves to get in front of your camera.
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, you can see rolling grassy hills which encompass the stunning Momela Lakes, each one a different hue of green or blue. Here you are likely to see thousands of flamingos, as well as a selection of resident and migrant waterfowl. There is also the chance to canoe these lakes, if organised in advance and devoting enough time to avoid rushing things. This grassy area provides good grazing for herds of Zebra and you often encounter amazingly relaxed Giraffes nibbling at the odd thorn bush. Although elephants are uncommon in Arusha National Park, and lions absent altogether, leopards and spotted hyenas can often be seen in the early morning or early evenings.
This small park is dominated by Mount Meru and even if you aren't climbing it yourself, its well worth taking some time to explore its lower slopes by vehicle, foot or a combination of both. Covered in an almost mystical cloud forest, with huge Juniper & Nuxia, Olive & Fig trees galore, its open vleis and cascading streams offer chance encounters with forest game including Bushbuck, Red Duiker and Warthog as well as more Colobus if you are lucky. If you have time, which normally means staying in or very near the Park, you can walk within the Crater itself, close to the central ash cone, dominated by the sheer 2000ft cliff rising up to the summit.