Tarangire National Park has some of the uppermost population density of elephants as compared to anywhere in Tanzania, and its sparse vegetation, sprinkled with baobab and acacia trees, makes it an attractive and unique location to visit
Situated just a few hours’ drive from the town of Arusha, Tarangire is a prevalent stop for people travelling through the northern safari circuit on their way to Ngorongoro and the Serengeti. The park encompasses into two game controlled areas and the wildlife is allowed to move freely throughout.
Previously the rains, droves of gazelles, wildebeests, zebras, and giraffes migrate to Tarangire National Park’s scrub plains where the last grazing land still remains. Tarangire offers an unmatched game viewing, and during the dry season elephants flourish. Families of the pachyderms play around the ancient trunks of baobab trees and strip acacia bark from the thorn trees for their afternoon meal. Stunning views of the Maasai Steppe and the mountains in the south make a stopover at Tarangire a memorable experience.
Herds of up to 300 elephants scratch the dry river bed for dissident streams, while migratory wildebeest, zebra, buffalo, impala, gazelle, hartebeest and eland crowd the dwindling lagoons. It’s the greatest concentration of wildlife outside the Serengeti ecosystem - a smorgasbord for predators – and the one place in Tanzania where dry-country antelope such as the stately fringe-eared Oryx and peculiar long-necked gerenuk are regularly observed.
Throughout the rainy season, the seasonal visitors scatter over a 20,000 sq. km (12,500 sq. miles) range until they exhaust the green plains and the river calls once more. But Tarangire’ s mobs of elephant are easily encountered, wet or dry. The swamps, tinged green year round, are the focus for 550 bird varieties, the most breeding species in one habitat anywhere in the world.
On drier ground you find the Kori bustard, the heaviest flying bird; the stocking-thighed ostrich, the world’s largest bird; and small parties of ground hornbills blustering like turkeys.
More ardent bird-lovers might keep an eye open for screeching flocks of the dazzlingly colorful yellow-collared lovebird, and the somewhat drabber rufous-tailed weaver and ashy starling – all endemic to the dry savannah of north-central Tanzania.
Abandoned termite mounds are often frequented by colonies of the endearing dwarf mongoose, and pairs of red-and-yellow barbet, which draw attention to themselves by their loud, clockwork-like duetting. Tarangire’ s pythons climb trees, as do its lions and leopards, lounging in the branches where the fruit of the sausage tree disguises the twitch of a tail.
Location: 118 km (75 miles) southwest of Arusha.
Easy drive from Arusha or Lake Manyara following a surfaced road to within 7km (four miles) of the main entrance gate; can continue on to Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti.
Charter flights from Arusha and the Serengeti.
What to do
Guided Walking safaris.
Day trips to Maasai and Barabaig villages, as well as to the hundreds of ancient rock paintings in the vicinity of Kolo on the Dodoma Roa