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Situated near the Kenyan border, the bustling town of Arusha stands in the foothills of Mount Meru at an altitude of about 1,500m. Although the town is not usually a destination in itself, it is the most popular and convenient springboard from which to explore the legendary northern game-viewing circuit.
In Arusha practically everything centers on the safari industry. From 1978 to today, it has risen from ninth largest town to second-largest town, with a population of 270,000. It is likely that the driving force behind Arusha's steady rise is the lure of the tourist dollar.
Apart from shopping for curios, there are not many things in Arusha to occupy a visitors time. That said, only 45 minutes from Arusha town is the most accessible and arguably underrated of northern Tanzania's national parks - Arusha National Park, which is detailed below.
Arusha National Park is often overlooked by travelers rushing to the more famous sights of the Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti. However, with a little time, Arusha National Park offers some lovely walking in the foothills of Mount Meru and canoeing on the Momela Lakes, plus gentle game drives. If you have the time it is well worth a day or two.
There are a range of activities to do in Arusha National Park. This includes walking safaris which are always accompanied by a ranger and last for a maximum of four hours, during which you would stop for a break at one of the park's lovely picnic sites. You can also explore the far reaches of the park by vehicle, taking in some of the lovely views and keeping an eye out for wildlife. Another great activity here and one not found in other safari parks in Tanzania, is a canoeing safari which allows you to explore the Momela Lakes.
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