NORTHERN CIRCUIT DESTINATION
ARUSHA NATIONAL PARK
Arusha National Park covers Mount Meru, a prominent volcano with an elevation of 4566 m, in Arusha Region. Arusha National Park is one of the small and most attractive National Parks in Tanzania covering an area of 137km. Situated only 37 km from Arusha town. The park is famous for day trips, the Ngurdoto Crater, Momela Lakes, the highland mountain forest and the rugged Mount Meru (4575 m above sea level). Mt. Kilimanjaro, towering at 5895 m to the east, can be visible on clear days from many locations in the park. One of the unique attractions of the park is the opportunity to combine game drives and a nature walk in many places where visitors can leave their safari vehicles and walk into the fresh air. The most common animals found in this park are the Abyssinian black and white colobus monkeys, the vervet monkeys, the red forest duikers, hippos, elephants, giraffes, buffaloes, bushbucks and sometimes the leopard. More than 400 species of birds have been recorded in the park.
TARANGIRE NATIONAL PARK
Tarangire National Park is the sixth largest national park in Tanzania; it is located in Manyara Region. The name of the park originates from the Tarangire River that crosses the park. The Tarangire River is the primary source of fresh water for wild animals in the Tarangire Ecosystem during the annual dry season. Tarangire National Park is known for its elephant’s herds of up to 300, migratory wildebeest, zebra, buffalo, impala, gazelle, hartebeest and eland grazing and browsing in the dry river bed. There is Silale swamp that attracts 550 varieties of birds, the most breeding species you'll ever see in one habitat anywhere in the world! The park is also the home of tree climbing pythons, as well as lions and leopards.
MANYARA NATIONAL PARK
Located 125 km west of Arusha town, nestling by the wall of the Great Rift Valley. Lake Manyara National Park is one of the oldest and most popular sanctuaries in East Africa. The park has a large variety of habitats, making it possible to support a wealth of wildlife in its small area. The main habitats include the shallow soda lake itself which occupies 77% of the National Park total area of 330 sq. km, the ground water forest, open grassland, acacia woodland and the rift wall. The name Manyara comes from the Maasai word emanyara, which is a euphorbia species of plant that is grown into a hedge around a family homestead Euphorbia tirucalli. The name "is a Maasai description not for the lake, but in general for a lake shore region." The park is famous for tree-climbing lions, which are occasionally seen along branches of acacia trees. Other animals found in the park include buffalo, elephants, leopards, baboons, impala, giraffes, zebra, wildebeest, ostrich and hippos. Lake Manyara National Park is also famous for a large group of different bird species over 400 birds found in most savannah and river habitats in East Africa. Common water birds to be seen here are pelicans, spoonbills, Egyptian geese, hammerkops and the migratory flamingos, which arrive in hundreds of thousands creating one of Africa’s great natural sights over the soda lake.
NGORONGORO CONSERVATION AREA
A UNESCO protected World Heritage Site and an International Biosphere Reserve, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area is situated in some 190 km. west of Arusha, between Lake Manyara and Serengeti National Parks. Covering approximately 8,292 square km. The Ngorongoro Conservation Area consists of the Ngorongoro Crater itself, the Olduvai Gorge and Ndutu, the Empakai crater and the Oldonyo Lengai Mountain. The Ngorongoro Conservation Area is a pioneering experiment in multi-purpose land use where people (the Maasai) their livestock and wildlife coexist and share the same protected habitat. Wild animals are protected as in the National Parks. The craters of Ngorongoro and Empakai are reserved exclusively for wildlife, while the rest of the Conservation Area is shared by wildlife, people and livestock. The Maasai, the main residents of Ngorongoro, are pastoralists who move widely with their herds of cattle, sheep, goat and donkeys in search of pasture and water. In recent years the Maasai have been encouraged to work on the land and supplement their traditional diet of milk and meat. The Ngorongoro is the largest Caldera in the world that has its walls intact. The Ngorongoro Crater floor, a sheer drop of 610 metres below the crater rim, has an area of 304 sq. km, with a diameter of 19 km. The sight of the Ngorongoro Crater is simply stunning. “It is impossible to give a fair description of the size and beauty of the Crater, for there is nothing with which one can compare to. It is one of the Wonders of the World…” Also referred as the Garden of Eden. The crater floor is home to tens of thousands of plains animals, including the big five Elephant, Rhino, Buffaloes, lion and leopard. Wildebeest, zebra, gazelles, elands, and other predator population of hyena, cheetah and jackal which can all be viewed at close quarters. The rainy season is between November and May. The altitude at the crater rim is about 2286 metres above sea level, and temperatures can get quite chilly in the evening, especially between May to September.
SERENGETI NATIONAL PARK
The Serengeti ecosystem is a geographical region in Africa. It is located mainly in northern Tanzania. Serengeti hosts the largest terrestrial mammal migration in the world, which helps to secure it as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa and as one of the ten natural travel wonders of the world. The Serengeti is also renowned for its large lion population and is one of the best places to observe prides in their natural environment. Serengeti National Park is a beautiful grassland savannah plains accommodating diversity of animal species such as predators; lions, leopards, cheetahs, hyenas, wild dogs and jackals. Big ostrich population and large number of migratory birds, migratory wildebeest and other animals.
RUBONDO NATIONAL PARK
Rubondo Island is located in the south-western corner of Lake Victoria, Tanzania. Rubondo Island is about 150 km (93 mi) west of Mwanza. The main island, Rubondo covers an area of 237 km2. The island protects another 11 islets, none much larger than 2 km2. These 10 islands form the Rubondo Island National Park covering an area of 456.8 km2 (176.4 sq mi). The highest point on Rubondo is the Masa Hills in the far south, at an elevation of 1,486m (350m above the level of the lake). The main island measures 28 km from north to south and is 3–10 km wide. Rubondo Island is on a rift in the lake. The park is famous for walking safari, boat cruising, fishing, game drive and chimpanzee tour. The park accommodates different animals such Elephants, Zebras, Giraffe, Crocodiles, hippopotamus, chimpanzee, vervet monkeys, large monitor lizards, python, Roan antelope, Suni Antelope and colobus monkeys. The park also inhabits variety of fish like Nile Perch and the Nile tilapia. The park is a very good site for camping and night bonfires, the park is also a good site for photograph due to its beautiful green nature throughout the year.
SAANANE NATIONAL PARK
The park made a record of being the first ever National Park to be located within the City and the smallest National Park in both Tanzania and East Africa. The Park is the home of mammals like Impala, Rock Hyrax, Vervet Monkeys and Wild Cats. The presence of “De-brazas Monkey” underscores its potential as the only Park in the country inhabiting the species. Reptiles are also dominant including; crocodiles, Monitor Lizards, Agama Lizards, Pancake, Tortoises, Snakes, particularly Python. The aquatic part of the Park inhabits a variety of fisheries life, mainly Tilapia and Nile Perch.
MKOMAZI NATIONAL PARK
Ordering Kenya’s Tsavo West National Park in north-eastern Tanzania, Mkomazi which was commissioned as a Game Reserve in 1951, has been gazetted a National Park from 2008. Located in the east of Pare Mountains near Same town, about 190kms from Arusha. Mkomazi National Park lies along the edge of a semi-arid savannah arc, that stretches into Kenya’s Tsavo West, falling into the Mkomazi-Tsavo Ecosystem, which is the second largest trans-boundary ecosystem in East Africa after the famous Serengeti – Maasai Mara. Before being under TANAPA authority, Mkomazi, with an area of 3,245sq km, was managed by the government as a game reserve. As a national park, Mkomazi has the potential to develop into a glorious sanctuary where visitors will have the opportunity to explore more of the Tanzania’s hidden natural treasures. Umba River on Mkomazi’s south eastern border and other water holes keep the park teeming with small and large mammals, including silver backed jackal, lion, cheetah, leopard, giraffe, buffalo, elephant and zebra, with the rare gerenuk, lesser kudu and fringe-eared oryx are easily sighted. There is a sanctuary for the endangered black rhino and another one for the wild dog created within the national park to protect this rare species. The Mkomazi Rhino Sanctuary has attained international renown for rehabilitating rhino, and it offers viewing and educational opportunities for visitors. Mkomazi is a fascinating destination for bird watchers, boasting more than 450 avian species including some Eurasian migratory species. Quite a few activities can be conducted in Mkomazi, including game drives, walking safaris, mountain hikes and bird watching. Mkomazi can be visited throughout the year, with late June to early September best for large mammal and bird watching. Mkomazi National Park would smoothly fit into Arusha – Usambara – Tanga – Pangani – Saadani – Dar es Salaam / Zanzibar circuit, or may be visited as a single destination from Arusha or after Kilimanjaro climbing.