The Quick Guide to Arusha National Park

Arusha National Park is often one of the first destinations on the Northern Tanzania safari circuit due to its proximity to Arusha and JRO international airport. The ease of access also makes it an ideal day trip option for those looking to get a taste of the safari experience without heading deeper in to the countryside.

The park is 53sq miles - making it one of the smallest in the country. Despite its size, Arusha National Park is stunningly beautiful with lush greenery and dramatic views of nearby Mt. Meru. Giraffe, Cape Buffalo, Zebra, Colobus Monkey, and Flamingos highlight some of the most common animals you might find here.

Other activities available in Arusha National Park that may not be possible elsewhere are canoe safaris, armed guard led walking safaris, and several waterfalls to explore.

This guide seeks to give a quick breakdown of need-to-know information about Arusha National Park.

Where is Arusha National Park?

Arusha National Park is only a roughly 45 minute drive from nearby Arusha City and therefore the most easily accessible National Park in the Northern Tanzania circuit. It is often the first stop on Tanzanian safari itineraries as it is also the closest major park to Mt. Kilimanjaro Airport (JRO) - the largest airport in the region and where most international flights will arrive.

How Far is Arusha National Park From Other Destinations in Tanzania?

  • JRO Airport: 45 minutes
  • Arusha City: 45 minutes
  • Mt. Kilimanjaro basecamp (Moshi): 1-1.5 hours\
  • Tarangire National Park: 2.5-3 hours
  • Lake Manyara National Park: 3 hours
  • Ngorongoro Crater: 3.5-4 hours
  • Seronera (Central Serengeti): 6-6.5 hours

What Are the Fees to Enter Arusha National Park for 2022?

Tanzanian park entry fees vary by age, season, and whether or not you are a citizen of East Africa. Fees also are often charged both per person as well as per group. If you sleep in the park, you will also be assessed a concession fee. All park fees are INCLUDED in every Tohe Wildlife Safari itinerary.

The below fees are for NON-East African Adults over 16 years of age. To see the detailed tariff list, click here.

Concession (entry) Fees:

  • Low Season (March 15-May 15): $45/per person
  • High Season (May 16-March 14): $50/per person

Camp Site Fees (Only assessed if using public Camp sites):

  • Low Season (October - June): $50/per person
  • High Season (July - September): $60/per person

Hotel Concession Fees (Assessed if you stay at a lodge within the park boundaries):

  • Year round: $40/per person

Vehicle Entry Fees:

  • ~$20/vehicle depending on weight

What Kind of Wildlife Can Be Found In Arusha National Park?

Though the size of the park is relatively small, the wildlife diversity is wide. Though we never like to promise wildlife encounters, visitors are (ALMOST) guaranteed to see giraffes due to their abundant population. In addition to the friendly giants, the park is home to large numbers of colobus monkeys, cape buffalo, and several antelope species. Though less common, it is also possible to see lion, elephant, or leopards.

Common Highlights: Giraffe, Flamingo, Cape Buffalo, Colobus Monkeys, Waterbuck

Arusha National Park Lodges and Accommodation

Because of the size of the park and proximity to town, visitors will typically not stay within the park boundaries. Below are links to some of the options we recommend in the area.

See here for mid-range options

See here for luxury options

Is Arusha National Park Good For a Day Trip?

Due to the stunning views and diverse wildlife as well as the proximity to Arusha town, Arusha National Park is one of the BEST parks in Tanzania for a single day safari trip. Though the wildlife viewing is certainly inferior to places like Serengeti National Park or Ngorongoro Crater, the convenient location makes it a great candidate. It is also a favorite due to its relatively low entry fees.

What does Arusha National Park Look Like?

Set in the shadow of Mt. Meru, Arusha National Park is lush, green, and dramatically beautiful. There are shallow lakes, waterfalls, plains and tons of green trees.

Zebras and Giraffes in front of Mt. Meru

Flamingos on the shores of Momella Lake within Arusha National Park

A stream flowing through Arusha National Park

Tululusia Waterfall - The end point of an armed guard guided hike

What is the Best Time Of Year to Visit Arusha National Park?

What constitutes the best time to visit is always subjective depending on what you prioritize. In general, the things to consider with seasonality are:

How busy will it be?

Arusha National Park is generally not too busy throughout the entire year, so while you'll encounter fewer other tourists during the wet season (November - May), we don't don't feel that it is significant factor worth worrying about for this park.

What is the weather like? Will the weather limit the accessibility of the park?

During dry season (June - October) typical temperatures during the day are in the mid-70s and the high 50's in the early mornings and evenings. Rain is extremely rare. All areas of the park will be accessible.

During wet season temperatures are generally slightly hotter than dry season (high of low-mid 80s). Regarding precipitation, the wet season is further split in two sub-seasons known as the "long rains" and "short rains."

  • The "short rains" are generally in November-December and consist of sporadic afternoon showers that will seldom effect your trip.
  • The "long rains" are usually between March and Mid-May and are characterized by more consistent rains. It usually won't rain all day, but many days will be overcast and wet. Arusha National Park is less susceptible to poor road conditions than other parks in the region, so despite the rains you should still be able to visit anywhere in the park. If activities like the waterfall hike, horseback riding, or a canoe trip are part of what you want to do they may be difficult or unenjoyable in heavy rains.
  • Between the short & long rains (January-February) are an unpredictable dry period. It is not possible to predict when exactly it will arrive in advance.

How easily can you spot the animals?

In general, wildlife is always more difficult to find during the wet season for two reasons. First, wet season produces more vegetation. The greenery, while beautiful, gives the animals many more places to hide. Second, the animals have more access to water sources so they do not need to concentrate around fewer areas as they do during dry season.

Arusha's wildlife is not migratory so the animals will remain in the park year round.

What are the cost differences?

Because Arusha National Park is already quite inexpensive, the cost savings for going during wet season are not significant. Expect anywhere between $10-30 per person/day in savings depending on the level of accommodation you choose to stay at.

An overview:

Dry Season (June - October)
  • The weather is more pleasant. Daytime temperatures are typically in the mid 70's and evenings/mornings get a bit cool.
  • Animals are easier to find. Less vegetation means they have fewer places to hide and less water means they will be concentrated around available water sources.
  • Less rain means less mosquitoes
  • Slightly more people and slightly more expensive but neither is a major factor
  • There should be no issues with any activities such as horseback riding, canoeing, or hiking.

Wet Season (November - May)
  • The weather is a bit hotter and more humid. Temperatures are in the 80's during the day.
  • Animals are still present in the park, but may be more difficult to spot due to heavy vegetation and more water sources available to them.
  • More mosquitoes
  • Less people and slightly less expensive
  • No transportation issues, but may have problems with activities during the "long rain" season of March - Mid May.

What Is The Bottom Line?

  • Arusha National Park is a small, yet beautifully lush green park set near Mt. Meru and Arusha town. Wildlife - especially giraffe - is abundant, though there are very few predators.
  • Its proximity to Arusha - the most common starting point for the Northern Tanzania safari circuit - makes it a great spot for a day trip or the first day of any wildlife safari itinerary. \
  • Entry fees and nearby accommodation costs are lower than other parks in Tanzania
  • It isn't too busy at any time of the year and the seasonal rains generally don't cause a large disturbance for your visit.
  • Several activities are available here that may not be available in other parks such as guided waterfall hikes, canoeing, and horseback riding.