Arusha National Park is a relatively small park, covering an area of 137 square kilometers (52.9 square miles), and lies near the town of Arusha. The town and the Park derive their name from the Warusha people who traditionally lived in this area. However the Park also overlaps into areas where the Maasai lived and most of the place names in the Park are of Maasai origin.
Three distinct areas are to be found within Arusha National Park: Ngurdoto Crater, the Momela Lakes and the rugged Mt. Meru. Altitudes range from 1,500 meters (4,921 feet) above sea level at Momela to over 4,500 (14,764 feet) meters at the summit of Meru. The vegetation that occurs in the Park is correlated to the altitude and geology of the area. Ngurdoto Crater is surrounded by forest whilst the crater floor is a swampy area. The Momela Lakes, like many in the Rift Valley, are alkaline, and Mt. Meru is a mixture of lush forests and bare rocks.
Associated with these different vegetation zones and places are different types of animals: migrating water birds settle on the lakes, waterbuck and reedbuck are found near water, while shy bushbuck and duikers keep to the forested areas. It is obviously impossible to say exactly where different species will be encountered but it is possible to build up a picture of the most likely species to be found in any area. Within this wide range of habitats almost 400 species of birds have been recorded in the Park. Some of these are migratory and present between October and April, others are permanently resident in the forests.
Arusha National Park is situated in a densely inhabited part of Tanzania, where demands for land are high, and parts of the Park are already bordered by agricultural settlement. Plans to extend the Park to include surrounding forest reserves have been formulated to ensure the long-term survival of forest habitats and their associated species within the Park.