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Arusha: the safari capital of East Africa. The small district of Arusha is the gateway to the great gameparks of the north and is the hub of Tanzania's buoyant safari industry.


Nestling at the foot of Mount Meru, the town of Arusha is the first stop on the northern safari circuit. Bustling and vibrant, the streets are filled with 4X4 game viewing vehicles criss-crossing the pot-holed roads. Masai warriors in full regalia stroll around, mingling with tourists in crisp khaki, fresh off the plane from Europe or the United States.


Arusha National Park is very small, only 137 sq km, but the scenery is stunning, with the lofty peaks of Mount Meru, afromontane forests, craters and the Momela lakes. Only an hour's drive from Arusha, the park is usually forgotten in the rush to reach the Serengeti, but it is certainly worth a visit, especially for bird-lovers - over 570 bird species have been recorded.


Visitors to Arusha National Park can also climb Mount Meru. At 15000 feet, it's the fifth highest mountain in Africa and the ascent to the summit is a tough four day hike. On the way you'll pass herds of buffalo and giraffe and look for colobus monkeys in the trees. At the summit, you can watch the sun rise behind Kilimanjaro.