This lovely park is set between the peaks of Mount Meru and Mount Kilimanjaro. Its area is only 53 square miles and therefore tiny when compared to the vast Serengeti or the huge Selous. The Park is as outstandingly beautiful as it is small and can be visited easily for a few hours from the nearby town of Arusha.
The highlands of this park are forested with the peak of Mount Meru rising above the forests to dominate the park. The forests are populated by a thriving and varied bird life as well as the attractive bush buck and climbing in the ancient cedar trees is the dramatically marked black and white colubus monkey; bellow these forests are a string of lakes that boast many water birds.
Altitudes in the park range from 1,500 meters above sea level to the summit of Mount Meru at 4,500 meters above sea level. With the differing altitudes and varied geology in a relatively small area makes for a dramatic contrast; from swampy lowlands to alkaline lakes and onto mountain forests.
Migrating water birds settle on the lakes, waterbuck and reedbuck are found near water, whist the shy bushbuck and duikers keep to the forested areas. Within this wide range of habitats four hundred species of birds have been recorded in the Park. Many of the water birds are migratory and found in the park between October and April, with the permanent residents found primarily in the forests.
This is one of the few parks in Tanzania that allow walking safaris. Canoes safaris have been introduced to this park and this activity offers an extraordinary perspective of the park. Many Maasai villages are found on the peripheries of the park and cultural visits are encouraged. The wild life that inhabit this park are Antelope, buffalo, leopard, hyena, baboon, colobus monkey, giraffe, rhino, elephant and hippopotamus. This small and beautiful park is well worth a visit. Not many tourists get to visit this park; however I would recommend adding it to your itinerary.
About the Author: For further information on Kilimanjaro, Tanzania and Zanzibar see http://betheladventure.co.uk using tourism to fund community initiatives focused on the education of the young and the medical care for the whole family – using tourism to change lives.
Written by: Ian Williamson