Mt Meru is the main attraction is this small but very beautiful park, just 21km (13miles) outside of Arusha, Africa’s fifth highest mountain with a height of 4,566 m (14,979 ft). Established in 1960 in an area of 137sq km (53 sq miles) the park has three very different areas.
Lake Manyara was made a National Park in 1960 and covers an area of 330 square kilometers, of which some 230 square kilometers are lake. It lies at the foot of the western wall of the Rift Valley escarpment, and is particularly famous for its elephant and tree-climbing lions. It is also well known for its rich variety of bird-life in both the forest and along the lakeshore. The name Manyara comes from the Masai word for the plant Euphorbia tirucalli that they use to build their livestock stockades.
In the 1920’s it was treated as part of the Serengeti. It is the largest unbroken volcanic caldera (collapsed volcano) in the world, with the crater itself covering an area of 259 square kilometres and having walls over 600 meters high. It was formed by geological faulting in the eastern arm of the Great Rift Valley two to three million years ago. The volcano created was probably larger than Mount Kilimanjaro. The quick withdrawal of molten lava beneath it made the centre collapse, creating the crater we see today.
The Serengeti National Park lies in Northern Tanzania and covers an area of about 14,760 square kilometres. It was first established in the 1920’s and was made a National Park in 1951. It is renown throughout the world as an area of great wildlife viewing. It is particularly famous for the huge herds of wildebeest and zebra that migrate every year following the rains in search of new grass.
Tarangire National Park is probably the least visited of the northern Tanzanian game parks, and retains a real air of undiscovered Africa, particularly in the south of the park. It lies a little distance to the south east of Lake Manyara and covers an area of approximately 2,600 square kilometres. It is named after the Tarangire River that flows through the park.