A weekend walking trip to Arusha National Park

IMG_8043Such a treat Arusha National Park is! With it so close to town I had almost forgotten what a gem it is. We have Kim – a friend from the film industry in the USA – staying and haven’t been to our Itikoni Camp for a while so thought we would go and spend the weekend up there. Saturday we did some game viewing though the park; great wildlife from the bushbuck and zebra to giraffe and more baboons than you can poke a stick at (with so many cute babies Kim’s camera almost exploded she was taking so many pictures!) and well as a rather nice Serval Cat sighting. Itikoni Camp is as atmospheric as ever! The ancient trees with their moss covered limbs making it feel more like a scene from Lord of the Rings than a real place under two hours of bustling Arusha town.

After a great meal and solving most of the world problems (well if I am honest we spent most of our time on the US elections!) we settled down for a great night in our cozy heated lounge tent. African Environments uses this camp as a great jumping off point for our Kilimanjaro Climbs, set at about six and a half thousand feet you really feel the altitude. The best way to prepare for one of our Kili Climbs!!

After breakfast the next day we headed off on foot with a great Park Ranger, Michael as our escort. The walking in Arusha NP is so totally unlike any other park – you are in the montaine forest with dappled light and huge pencil cedar trees towering more than a hundred foot overhead – again cue images of Hobbits and such! TheIMG_5957re are no groomed trails, you just follow small animal trails that wend their way backwards and forwards. The terrain is, well, lumpy! The result of a massive explosion half a million years ago that blasted this side of Mount Meru out creating the lakes far below us. Half a million years has allowed everything to mellow and be covered in the huge trees, grass and moss, but you can see it’s still a young landscape by the way the streams are cutting down into the soil. We passed one impressive gorge with the river plunging
over a hundred and fifty feet down into a canyon. Waterfall and streams abound, moss covered trees fallen to span gorges that look as if they are right out of a Disney movie and should have a caped horseman galloping across them to rescue a damsel in distress somewhere.

Great birds on the walk too – notably a Bar Tailed Trogon for all you twitchers out there – but perhaps my favourite of the wildlife was the tiny chameleon, only about 3 inches long and it was kind enough to let us take a few photos.

In total we hiked, wandered, abled and meandered for 5 hours but the landscape is so fascinating with black and white colobus monkeys leaping through the trees overhead then finally bumping into a big male giraffe just before we got back to camp that it went by in a flash.

Definitely not going to leave it so long before I head back.