Top Safaris from Arusha Tanzania
When one plans of going to Tanzania, it is most likely that the city of Arusha will appear in at least one or two of the search pages. Why? Arusha is the main hub for top safari parks especially in the northern safari circuit of Tanzania. This includes Serengeti, Mount Kilimanjaro, and Ngorongoro Crater. Additionally, Arusha holds domestic and international airports and public transportation hubs that connect to other major cities on the continent. In this article, we will cover the most renowned safaris from Arusha Tanzania and information on how to get here, what you need to get here, etc.
Major safaris from Arusha
Being the major safari gateway in northern Tanzania, a lot of safari parks starts from Arusha. The top ones are:
▪Arusha National Park
Since Arusha National Park is along the way to other northern safari circuit parks, many tourists make a stopover to this park for a day tour, either on the start or towards the end of their African trip. It is the most accessible wildlife park from Arusha and it offers walking safaris and canoe trips on top of the usual game drives. Giraffes, elephants, hippos, zebras, buffaloes, and wildebeests are among the very common sightings in this park. It is also where you can find Mount Meru, Africa’s fifth highest mountain which offers the most ideal introductory trek for beginner climbers.
Best time to go: June to October
Highlight/s: Mount Meru, proximity to Arusha
Recommended tour: 5 Days Mount Meru Trekking
▪Tarangire National Park
Home to Tanzania’s largest elephant population, Tarangire National Park is another famous wildlife sanctuary. It also holds the highest number of birds in Tanzania as well as four of the Big Five: lion, elephant, leopard, buffalo. Often skipped by many because it is “off-the-path”, the park offers a slightly more untouched landscape compared to other popular northern safari parks.
Best time to go: June to October
Highlight/s: Large elephant population and elephant mud baths
Recommended tours: 10 Days Tanzania Luxury Sky Safari
▪Lake Manyara National Park
The park is widely renowned for its wealth of lesser and greater flamingoes by its soda lake, its tree-climbing lions and huge elephant population. But do you know that Lake Manyara National Park also has a lush forest that gave inspiration to the popular Disney classic film, Tarzan? It is where you can find a lot of baboons and also other wildlife including buffaloes and giraffes.
Best time to go: June to September
Highlight/s: Massive flamingo display and tree-climbing lions
▪Serengeti National Park
Perhaps the most popular and most photographed wildlife sanctuary in the world is Serengeti National Park. Its name causes echoes, drumrolls and chills down the spine because of its unparalleled wildlife splendor – from the endless golden savannas to the magnanimous wildlife concentration and diversity including plenty of sightings of the Big Five to the world-famous Great Wildebeest Migration. It is a prime cheetah country that holds the most population of predators in the world. In fact, predator-prey interactions are common here all year round.
Best time to go: June to October and December to early March
Highlight/s: Great Migration, Big Five, “Real Africa” scenery
▪Ngorongoro Conservatory Area
The main highlight of Ngorongoro Conservation Area is the Ngorongoro Crater which is known as the world’s largest inactive volcanic caldera. The caldera is home to the Big Five and is one of the best places to see endangered black rhinos. Aside from its sheer wildlife density, Ngorongoro offers a scenic view perfect for picnic lunches in the wild. It is also just by Serengeti National Park and an area of it is, in fact, one of the settings for the action-packed calving season during the Great Migration.
Best time to go: June to September and November to March
Highlight/s: Ngorongoro Crater, Black rhinos
Mount Kilimanjaro is a dormant volcano and the highest free-standing mountain in the world. It stands 5895 meters (19,340 ft) tall and is famous for its majestic snow-capped feature which remains like that all throughout the year.
Although basically not a safari, this is one attraction that is usually a highlight to any African trip. Being a world-renowned mountain, Mount Kilimanjaro continues to draw a huge amount of visitors every year. So for adventurous visitors who want to experience Kilimanjaro, trekking the mountain is possible! It offers several different routes, each with different levels of difficulty, number of climbing days, acclimatization rates, etc. You can easily book treks with a tour operator.
Best time to go: January to March and June to October, but January to March is a colder season so there is more chances of encountering snow on the summit
Highlight/s: Glacier summit, unforgettable treks
Recommended tours: 7 Days Marangu Route |8 Days Mt. Kilimanjaro Climbing Summit – Machame Route
How to get to Arusha
Arusha is approximately 12 hours from Dar es Salaam, 6 hours from Nairobi, Kenya and approximately 17 hours from Kampala, Uganda. Its airports also offer flights to Zanzibar for a popular beach getaway. Flight time is usually **** on average.
The main gateway to Arusha is Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO). It provides domestic and international flights and visitors can easily take a light aircraft to an airstrip in the safari park they’re visiting or a vehicle to drive to the park (these are usually arranged by a tour operator).
The two airports that serve Arusha are as follows:
- Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO) which is only 60 kilometres away from the city center (about 80 minutes on the road or 20 minutes to Arusha Airport), holds regular flights to and from different hubs in the world. Direct flights include Amsterdam via KLM, Doha via Qatar Airways and also Addis Ababa, Zanzibar, Nairobi, and Dar es Salaam.
- Arusha Airport which is a domestic hub that accommodates flights to and from Zanzibar, Kilimanjaro and Dar es Salaam
For a cheaper way to Arusha, some tourists prefer to skip the direct route and fly into either Nairobi in Kenya or to Dar es Salaam, the capital of Tanzania, and then take a connecting flight to either Kilimanjaro or Arusha.
What you need to enter Arusha
As part of Tanzania, the requirements for entry to Arusha are in line with the Tanzania entry requirements. These are:
- a valid visa or e-visa printout
- a passport which is valid for not less than six months and with at least 2 empty pages upon arrival.
There are 3 types of Visas available for tourists:
- Regular Visa: Single-entry visa that is valid for three (3) months only. Visa fee: $50
- Transit Visa: Short-time visas granted to travelers who will visit Tanzania for only a short time or are stopping over at Tanzania on their way to other countries/destination. Validity for this type of visa is 14 days. Visa fee: $30
- Multiple-Entry Visa: Visa issued for visitors who wish to visit frequently for leisure and holiday purposes. This may be issued for a period of 3, 6 or 12 months wherein the visa holder may be allowed to enter and re-enter the country provided that a single stay of the holder must not exceed 3 months. Visa fee: $100
Other things to do in Arusha
- Visit the Clock Tower Circle. There have been whispers that the clock tower is the center of Africa, the central point between Cape Town and Cairo. Although it is merely a tale, it provides an interesting story and the tower is also a good meeting point for both tourists and locals.
- Explore museums and galleries that showcase the people and their art as well as the rich culture and history of the city.
- Wander around the Cultural Heritage Centre, Old Boma Museum and try your bargaining skills at Central and Kilombero Market.
- Visit Meserani Snake Park. It holds 50 species of eastern and southern African snakes and it also has a Masai Cultural Museum and a curio market.
- Eat, drink and party the African way. Arusha has a string of restaurants that you can try plus it also has some bars and clubs.
Arusha is indeed not just a small, bustling town where travelers start their safari. It is also a charming part of Tanzania which offers plenty of things to do and see. It has a certain charm that can enamor visitors. It also has a party scene, African style – probably a good contrast to the wildlife safaris you are about to do or already did. So make some time to explore the city and not just treat it as a safari hub. It’s going to be worth it.