LAST UPDATED – 10/13/2022 – Arusha National Park Safari
Arusha National Park is far from the largest national park in Tanzania. However, it does have a lot of beautiful landscapes and animals for visitors to enjoy. It is also located very close to Arusha, which is one of Tanzania’s largest cities. These things are what makes Arusha National Park popular safari park.
In this guide, I give you all the information you need to plan a Arusha National Park Safari. I discuss the best times to visit this beautiful place and what you should bring along. You can expect to learn which animals you are likely to see, and which tours I recommend you use.
If you are wondering what time of year to plan your visit, I cover that as well. Not only that, but I explain what fees you need to pay for your visit and give you some safari tips. Most importantly, I outline the important things you need to do before you even leave.
|Tanzania Entrance Requirements|
|What to Bring|
|How to Get There|
|Best Times to Visit|
|Where to Stay|
|The Wildlife You May See|
|Safari Safety Tips|
|Safari Photo Gallery|
Tanzania Entrance Requirements
Before you can even start to think about your Arusha National Park safari, you need to make sure that you can meet the Tanzania entrance requirements.
If you don’t meet the requirements, you will not be allowed entry into the country. This will put a huge damper on your safari plans. To assist you in ensuring you meet the requirements, I have outlined the passport and VISA requirements for you to review.
Tanzania Passport Requirements
One of the most important Tanzania entrance requirements you need to consider when planning your trip is Tanzania’s passport requirements.
According to the US State Department website, your passport needs to be valid for at least 6-months after your date of arrival. So, if your passport is set to expire within 6-months of your arrival date, you will need to renew your passport before you travel to Tanzania.
Tanzania VISA Requirements
You will also need to purchase a VISA to be allowed into Tanzania. This VISA can either be purchased ahead of time via as an e-VISA or be purchased upon arrival at your port of entry. The cost of a 90-day VISA for Tanzania for a US Citizen is $100 USD. For a summary of the Tanzania passport and VISA requirements, please refer to the table below.
|Passport Validity||Blank Pages Required||Visa Requirement|
|At least 6-months beyond arrival date.||1-page.||US citizens must purchase a VISA. The VISA cost is $100 USD and can either be purchased as an e-VISA or purchased upon arrival.|
Important Note: I am not a medical doctor and do not have any medical experience. The information provided in this section is a summary of information that I got from the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States for travel to Tanzania. I am providing you this information to help bring awareness of the necessary vaccinations to you. However, consultation of my guide should not replace a discussion about your travels with your doctor or a travel medical clinic.
Before you leave for your trip to Tanzania to go on your Arusha National Park safari, you need to make sure you have all of the proper vaccinations. Not only to protect yourself, but to protect others. In fact, depending on where you are visiting from and whether you are making any stops before visiting Tanzania, you might not even be allowed in the country without the proper vaccinations.
Travel Vaccination Advice
You may have questions on what immunizations you will need and what to look out for when you go to get them. In this case, I have included some general guidelines from my experiences below.
- Most specialized travel clinics will not accept insurance, so you will have to pay for your travel consultation and immunizations and then request reimbursement from your insurance company later.
- Some immunizations aren’t accepted by every insurance company, so check with your insurance provider before getting your immunizations.
- Check with your regular doctor first, as often they can do a travel consultation for you and write you the necessary prescriptions for your immunizations, even if they aren’t able to give them to you. This way you can ensure that at least your travel consultation will be covered by your insurance up-front.
- Check with Walgreens or other drug stores that give flu shots to see if they have any of the immunization shots that you require before going to a specialized clinic that doesn’t accept insurance to get them. Walgreens is able to give you many of the immunizations necessary for international travel, and they accept insurance up-front.
- The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website can be a great resource for answering any travel immunization questions that you have.
Tanzania Vaccination Recommendations
You will need to consult with your doctor or a travel clinic on recommended vaccinations before you leave. I have compiled a list below of some of what you might expect your physician to recommend.
- Antimalarial (Aralen, Qualaquin, Plaquenil, Mefloquine, or Doxycycline).
- Typhoid (either a shot, which is good for 2 years, or live virus pill, which is good for 4 years).
- Yellow Fever (be aware that some countries require a yellow fever vaccination if you are traveling from another country that is high risk, even if your stay in that other country was short).
- Hepatitis A & B (if you haven’t had them).
- Tetanus (if you aren’t current).
- Rabies (if you are going to be working in close contact with animals).
- Dukoral (gives you 3-month protection against travel diarrhea).
- Flu Shot
Yellow Fever Vaccination Requirements
Depending on which country you are arriving from, you may need to have a Yellow Fever vaccination to enter the country. If you are travelling to Tanzania from another country in Africa, please use the US Centers of Disease Control (CDC) website to determine if you will be required to have proof of the Yellow Fever vaccination to enter.
What to Bring
If you are going on safari for the first time, you might not know what to bring with you. To help prepare for your Arusha National Park safari, I have developed several guides that you should review.
What to Expect When Visiting Africa for the First Time
First, my article on the “20 Tips for Those Visiting Africa for the First Time” will help get your prepared. The article outlines what you can expect when you visit Africa for the first time. It outlines what you should and should not do while visiting. It also gives you some tips on what to expect during your first visit to Africa.
Then, as you prepare for your trip, you will want to review my “Essential Safari Packing List”. This guide will ensure that you have all the gear you need for your safari. It also outlines what you should not bring with you.
Finally, my last article covers taking pictures while on safari. My “Tips for Photography on African Safaris” guide will help you take the best possible photos of your epic adventure. Not only does it include photography gear I recommend, but it also covers my recommended camera settings.
|The Essential Safari Packing List|
|Tips for Photography on African Safaris|
How to Get There
Arusha National Park is located in Northern Tanzania, near the large city of Arusha. Because of its location, it is a popular destination for tourists who fly into Mt. Kilimanjaro National Airport in Arusha. From there, it is only a very short drive to get to the national park.
The park sits in fairly close proximity to some of the larger and more well-known parks in Tanzania. This includes the Ngorongoro National Conservation Area and the Serengeti National Park.
Arusha is also fairly close to Lake Manyara National Park, Tarangire National Park, and Mount Kilimanjaro National Park. In addition to the Tanzanian parks, Arusha is also fairly close to the Kenyan border. This makes visiting Kenya to see some of its beautiful parks fairly easy as well.
When visiting Arusha National Park, there are several ways in which you can see the park. Many who visit decide to take a guided safari. However, that isn’t the only way you can see the park. The park also allows you to drive your own vehicle on self-safari. There are quality roads thru much of the park, so it is one of the easier parks in Tanzania to do so.
We drove ourselves thru the park, and we had little issues navigating the park road. If you choose to do a self-drive, here are some general tips and guidelines you will want to keep in mind.
Tips for Self-Drive Safaris in Arusha National Park
- Park rules require that you stay on the marked roads at all times. You cannot drive off-road in Arusha National Park.
- Target the dry season for your visit as there is far less risk of the roads being flooded.
- Make sure you have a 4×4 vehicle with high clearance. The roads can be rough in areas, and you don’t want to get stuck.
- Let some air out of your tires while driving on the gravel and sand park roads. This will give you extra traction and help you prevent getting stuck. Just remember to re-inflate your tires before getting back on the paved roads.
- Bring a satellite phone with you in case of emergencies.
- Refer to the Tanzania National Parks website for current fees to enter the park and payment options beforehand.
- And finally, leave yourself plenty of time to get back to your lodge or campsite before dark.
You may be disappointed that Arusha National Park doesn’t have many big predators. However, the positive side of this is that it makes the park safer for walking safaris. Keep in mind, just because there may not be big predators, it doesn’t mean there aren’t dangers. In fact, buffalo and elephants can be even more dangerous than predators. That is why an armed park ranger escort is required for walking safaris.
Taking a walking safari in Arusha National Park is a really cool experience. It allows you to get a better look at some of the wildlife that is in the park. You should still make sure that you keep a safe distance from the animals. Listen to the park ranger at all times, who will make sure that you do that. Walking safaris are incredible because you get a much better view of the animals. It’s an experience I certainly won’t forget.
Not only do you get a better view of the animals while walking, but there are other positives to walking safaris as well. This includes being able to see the beautiful Tululusia Waterfall up-close. And if you are up for it, you can climb Mount Meru. Both are things that you absolutely must see when you are in the park.
The Fig Tree Arch
Another really cool feature within Arusha National Park is the Fig Tree Arch. This huge fig tree, with an archway cut thru it, is spectacular. There aren’t many trees in this world that you can actually drive a safari vehicle thru. You’re lucky when you visit, because this is one of them. When you visit the fig tree arch, you are able to get out of your vehicle and inspect the tree a little more closely. After snapping some pictures, you can literally drive your vehicle thru the tree.
The Tululusia Waterfall is a beautiful waterfall within Arusha National Park that you are able to walk to and visit when on a walking safari. Because you have to get off the roadway and cross the park to get to the falls, it is not recommended that you try and visit the falls without a park ranger to guide you. In my opinion, seeing this breathtaking waterfall alone is worth paying the price for a walking safari.
Next to the falls there are several trees that have roots growing down the rock embankment. This was one of the most interesting and beautiful things I have seen in any national park around the world. We couldn’t help but snap up some photos when we visited, like the one you see above.
Climbing Mount Meru
If you are the adventurous type, when visiting Arusha National Park, you have the opportunity to climb Mount Meru. This 4,566-meter (or 14,977 feet) mountain may not be as high as Mount Kilimanjaro, but it is still a spectacular mountain. We only climbed for a few hours and got only a small fraction of the way up and our entire group was tired.
In order to summit Mount Meru, you will need to overnight as it will take you several days to reach the summit. So, if you plan on climbing Mount Meru when you visit the park, you are going to want to plan ahead and have a guide and arrangements made for accommodations well in advance of your trip. If I had more time at Arusha National Park, this is something I would have definitely wanted to do.
If you would feel more comfortable using a tour for your Arusha National Park safari, there are many good ones to choose from. For those interested, I have included some good recommendations for you to review below.
You also have the option of self-driving thru the park but stopping at the park headquarters and purchasing a guided walking tour thru the park. Visitors who want to do a walking safari must be accompanied by an armed park ranger for safety reasons.
|Arusha NP – Private Guided 4×4 Safari – Game Drive & Walking|
|1-Day Arusha National Park Tour|
|Private Day Trip to Arusha National Park with a Walking Safari|
On Safari in Arusha National Park
To give you a better sense of what it is like to visit Arusha National Park and go on safari, I have put together a short video of our visit. Please watch to see the beautiful animals we saw and the amazing landscapes we enjoyed!
Best Times to Visit
Average Temperature (℉)
One factor that you will definitely want to consider when deciding what time of year to visit Tanzania to go on an Arusha National Park safari is the average temperature. During September thru November, the high temperatures can get hot.
In Tanzania, they use closed safari vehicles, so you will have some shade when you are on safari, so the hot temperatures aren’t as big of a deal as they are elsewhere in Africa. However, if you really don’t like the heat, you may want to avoid these months.
On the other hand, the average low temps during May thru August can be cooler, especially at night. Because they use closed safari vehicles in Tanzania, you don’t have to worry as much about getting cold on early morning safaris.
However, if you do visit during these months, you may want to bring a light jacket with you. For more information on what types of temperatures to expect on your Arusha National Park safari, please refer to the chart of average temperatures I provided for you to review below.
Average Precipitation (Inches)
Arguably the most important factor that you will want to consider when deciding what time of year to visit Tanzania for your Arusha National Park safari is the amount of precipitation that the area is getting. Not only can a lot of rain put a hamper on your daily safari plans, but an abundant amount of rain can also greatly affect the likelihood that you will see animals.
During the dry winter months of June thru October, the Arusha area gets much less precipitation. This means animals in the area will need to stay close to more permanent water sources. This can make spotting animals within the park much more predictable.
During the wet months of March thru May, and to a lesser extent November thru February, the park sees a lot more rain. Not only does this mean much thicker vegetation within the park, but it also means that water is more readily available away from the more permanent water sources.
This can make it much more difficult to spot elusive animals, like leopards. More importantly, the heavy rains in March thru May can make the roads much more difficult to drive on, which can really hamper your safari plans. I would certainly avoid these months when planning your Arusha National Park safari.
Best Months to Visit Arusha National Park
If you are planning an Arusha National Park safari, you are going to want to plan your visit for the optimal time of year to see the animals and avoid bad weather.
The best time to visit the park is between June and October, as the animals are easier to spot, and the weather is typically better. Conversely, you will want to avoid visiting during March thru May, as this is when the worst weather typically occurs, and the animals are typically seeking shelter.
|= Excellent||= Good||= Fair||= Poor|
June thru October
- Animals are easier to spot as the vegetation isn’t as thick and the animals are typically congregated by the water sources.
- There is typically a lot of sun and very little rain.
- Because the weather isn’t as wet, malaria carrying mosquitoes are less prevalent.
- You will want to dress warmly as the mornings can be cold at this time of year.
November thru May
- The park is at its greenest and most lush.
- It is typically the least crowded in April and May, which is the park’s low season.
- Bird watching is best as the migratory birds are visiting the park at this time.
- There may be a lot of mud on the roads because of heavy rains.
- March is the height of the rainy season.
Where to Stay
If you are feeling adventurous, there are several campsites that you can stay at inside the park to really get that authentic safari experience. Otherwise, there are also several very nice lodges near Arusha National Park that you can stay at as well.
If you would like to stay in one of the lodges, I would strongly recommend that you make your reservations at least 6 months in advance to ensure you get the lodging you want. For those interested, I have provided my recommendations on lodges below for you to review.
|Ngare Sero Lodge|
|Serena Mountain Village Lodge|
|Dik Dik Lodge|
|Mt. Meru Safari Lodge|
The Wildlife You May See
Because Arusha National Park is so close to a densely populated city, it limits some of the wildlife viewing that you will see in the park. Because of its location and the fact that migration routes are blocked by human habitation, there hasn’t been a lion spotted in the park since 1998. While this doesn’t mean there isn’t a chance you will see a lion in the park, the odds are very low.
Big Predators are Rarely Seen in the Park
The same can be said with the other big predators such as hyenas, leopards, and cheetahs. While the likelihood of spotting one of these predators in the park is higher than that of spotting a lion, the odds are still fairly low that you will see these animals inside the park.
That said, there is a chance that you will see elephants, and spotting giraffe, buffalo, and zebra is fairly easy as their numbers are much more plentiful inside the park. Some of the other animals that you have a very good chance of seeing inside the park include colobus monkeys, baboons, blue monkeys, warthogs, dik diks, red duiker, and a variety of other herbivores.
The park has a variety of different habitats, which makes it possible to see a wide array of different animals. Some of the forested areas are prime habitat for colobus and blue monkeys, which are fairly easy to spot within the trees of these areas. They are especially easy to spot during the summer months when the vegetation within the park isn’t as lush and dense.
There are also several different grasslands within the park that are prime habitat for grazing animals such as buffalo, zebra, and other herbivores. It is not uncommon to see large groups of grazers out in the grassy fields or near the roads. It is also typically easy to spot giraffe within the park feeding on the trees on the hillsides and in the areas between the forests and the grasslands.
Being on safari is such an amazing experience and you should enjoy every single second of it. However, if you aren’t careful, you might not get everything out of the experience that you could have.
In order to make sure that you get everything out of your safari experience in Arusha National Park that you possibly can, I have provided some general safari tips below for you to review.
Be Patient and Open Minded
When you are on safari, everything isn’t going to go according to plan. The weather, the animal’s behavior, and other factors are going to impact where you go and what you see.
It is really easy to get caught up in the safari experience and want to get the best pictures you possibly can. However, safety should always be the primary concern. To give you some help in how to remain safe while on safari in Lake Manyara National Park, I have outlined some general safety tips for you to review later in this guide.
Don’t Get Stuck Behind Your Camera
Everyone wants to get great pictures while on safari, and you should absolutely bring your camera and take a lot of pictures. However, if you spend your entire time in Arusha National Park looking thru your camera, you are going to miss out on some of the experience. I would recommend setting your camera down every-once-in-a-while and just enjoy being in such an amazing place.
Ask Lots of Questions
Make sure you ask your guide a lot of questions while you are in Arusha National Park. It is easy to get caught up in the moment and forget to ask which type of animal you are looking at or why they are doing what they are doing, but your safari guide is there to answer these questions for you. And believe me, they enjoy answering these questions. Don’t get home and regret not asking those questions.
Be Conscious of Time
You are going to see some amazing things while you are on safari in Arusha National Park. However, as I mentioned before, the time that your daily permit is good for is limited.
Don’t get too caught up in one place within the crater for too long as you might regret not having time to do other things later. By no means am I suggesting that you should rush thru the crater, but you might not want to linger watching one thing for hours-upon-hours either.
Safari Safety Tips
Being on safari can be an amazing and exciting experience, but it can also be a very dangerous experience if you don’t follow the proper safety rules. In order to ensure that your safari experience is a memorable and safe one, I have outlined some general safari safety rules for you to review below.
Obey Your Safari Guide at All Times
The most important safari safety tip of all is to listen to your safari guide and obey them at all times. They are there to keep you safe, so let them.
Don’t Stick Anything out of the Safari Vehicle
It is never a good idea to stick anything outside of a safari vehicle. Whether this be your arms, your feet, or your camera as you try to get a great picture, keep them inside the vehicle at all times.
Don’t Make Frantic Movements
When you are in the safari vehicle, the animals tend to think of the vehicle, and everything associated with it as one homogeneous entity. However, if you make sudden and frantic movements, or do something else to make you stick out as apart from the vehicle, you may become an object of interest to them.
Never Get Out of the Vehicle
This point cannot be stressed strongly enough. Never, and I mean never, get out of your safari vehicle unless your safari guide explicitly instructs that it is safe.
Never Leave Your Tent or Lodge at Night
This is another point that I cannot emphasize strongly enough. You should never leave your tent or lodge room at night without a chaperone. The African bush can be a dangerous place, especially at night, so make sure you follow whichever procedures your safari guide gives you for getting assistance at night. If they don’t mention this, make sure you ask ahead of time.
Walk, Never Run
If you do find yourself outside of your vehicle and confronted by an animal (hopefully this never happens), then make sure that you stay as calm as possible, walk away slowly (never turning your back on the animal), and NEVER, EVER run away.
Be Careful Around Lakes and Rivers
Unless you are explicitly told by your safari guide that the waters are free of hippos and crocodiles, you should never attempt to swim in a lake, river, or pond. Even then, I would think twice about doing it. Hippos kill more people in Africa than any other animal, and crocodiles are not far behind on the list, so you always have to be safe when even approaching bodies of water.
Safari Photo Gallery
Arusha National Park is an absolutely breathtaking place. It may not get all of the glory that Tanzania’s other national parks receive, but it is a unique and fascinating place in its own right. Below are just some of the many amazing pictures we were able to take when visiting the park.
If you would like to view some more of my top Arusha National Park safari photos, as well as photos from some of my many other travel adventures, make sure you are following me on Instagram as well!