Such 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! There 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.