This is a Fig tree
(Ficus thonningii) whose roots have grown to take the shape of an arch, large enough for a car (elephant size) to pass underneath. It was formed when seeds of the parasitic tree were dropped by foraging birds in the fork of a host tree, allowing germination to take place and the tree's roots to slowly reach the ground thereby strangling its host.What to do there
It's a good photo point, with many opting to have one taken while standing under it or with their head popped out of the roof of a safari vehicle that is parked under it. The whole architecture of the whole thing is also truly amazing, especially if you have never seen a fig tree before - some of which can be seen on the hike to Tululusia waterfalls
and at the waterfall itself.Best time to visit
Unless you are a fan of walking in the rain, then it is best to avoid this area during the heavy rainfall seasons (march to july). As a bonus, visiting the fig tree arch on a day with clear skies would give you an opportunity to see mount Kilimanjaro from afar at the Kilimanjaro view point on the way there.(unlike us).
Location of Fig Tree Arch
The fig tree arch is located well on the slopes of meru Meru, inside the Arusha national park and just about 15 kilometres north east of the city of Arusha - Tanzania. It is also on the path to the first campsite for hikers going to the mountain's summit, thus important to see if you are headed there.
Just a few kilometres further up the mountain is a special campsite and even further up is the Maio waterfall
, a small yet spectacular waterfall that has a picnic site and plunge pools with fish - surely a must see.How to get there?
By either driving or hiking, with the latter being the easier one. The drive takes you past most of the public campsites (ideal if you would like to spend a night there) and up a narrow dirt road that can be said to be wide enough for only one car. It is quite a steep climb in some places, so better hope that your car can take the abuse. Alternatively you could rent a 4x4 vehicle from one of the tour companies
The more scenic option would be to walk, which requires an armed ranger for safety reasons, along with some good hiking gear. Either way, you would first have to report to Momela gate
where they would give you instructions or even a ranger (if required).References
Information from an actual visit to the fig treeAbbreviations
m.a.m.s.l. - metres above metric sea level
TANAPA - Tanzania National Parks