One of three campsites inside Arusha national park that are accessible to the public - even those not climbing mount Meru. It is located on the slopes of mount Meru and is given the name public due because it can be shared if there is more than one camper using it on the same day, whereas private campsites are exclusive for as long as the inhabitant is using it.
Despite being in the wild, it has running cold water available, along with several modern facilities such as flushing toilets, a shower (cold water) and modern wash basins - all housed inside a small brick building. There also is another separate building that serves as the kitchen, although only equipped with sinks and counters.
There aren't any dangerous wild animals at the campsite, but there have been times where herds of buffalo have been sighted here. More common are the smaller herbivores such as dik diks along with rodents, monkeys and birds.
For security, the park authorities do provide an armed ranger during the nights for the park's inhabitants. They can be a useful source of information on the campsite itself, and the animals. Just remember to keep your food safe at all times - lock the kitchen doors as it may attract unwanted attention from the animals and even be stolen.
At night, the camp comes alive with the occasional sound of owls, insects, monkeys and a few others we couldn't identify.
Despite the warmth during the days, the campsite can get very cold during the nights, so remember to carry warmer clothes or light a campfire and gather enough firewood before dark. Other safety tips can be found from the ranger's offices at momella gate or any other ranger or ranger's post within the park.
Please note that an extra fee is required to use this campsite (payable at the first entrance gate) and you would normally need to report to the momella gate before using it, where they would give you the keys for the facilities as well as any other instructions necessary.
At the time of writing the fee is TSHS 5000 per person for east African citizens and 30 USD for other nationals. However, if going by car, then you would also need to pay for that as well.
Other fees you may need to pay include entrance fees (TSHS 10,000 for East Africans or USD 45 for other nationals) that would give you a 24 hour permit if using the camps or 12 hours if not, along with the ability to view other parts of the park such as the waterfalls nearby.
More information on the fees can be found at the TANAPA website
Location of Public Campsite Number 1 (arusha)
The public campsite number one of Arusha national park is located on the eastern slopes of mount Meru and just a few kilometres north of the city of Arusha - Tanzania. There are two more campsites nearby, one less than 500 metres away - the number two public campsite and another - the number three public campsite a ten minutes drive south of it.
The whole campsite is situated next to a hill and deep within the rainforest region of the mountain. In fact the whole campsite is a clearing amongst tall trees and thick undergrowth with much of the camp being covered in a natural evergreen lawn.
The turning point for the campsite is located about five hundred metres south of momella gate (use the map below) or ask for one at the gates.References
Information from an actual visit to the campsiteAbbreviations
1. TANAPA - Tanzania National Parks
2. m.a.m.s.l. - metres above metric sea level