Tarangire National Park 166

Elephants in Tarangire National ParkElephants in Tarangire National Park

Tarangire National Park, one of the hidden jewels of Tanzania. This park measures 2,600 sq km’s and boasts a concentration of wildlife second only to Ngorongoro Crater. It features an impressive amount and array of birdlife and plant life.

Situated only 160km’s from Arusha, the park is nestled to the south of the large open grass plains of southern Maasailand. The park is named after the river which directly cuts through the center, Tarangire River. It is the only permanent water source for the animals. Along the river bank, you’ll see herds of wildebeest and their babies (gnus), zebra, Grant’s gazelle, Thamson’s gazelle, and many others. Predators like lion and leopard keep a watchful eye on their possible meal

In the park, you can witness excellent vies of the grass and floodplains with impressive baobab and flat topped acacia trees scattered all around. The park may look standard during the dry season, but the increased competition for food and water offers increased wildlife activities.

Many of the animals leave the area of the Tarangire River at the beginning of the short rainy season (October/November) as water may be found elsewhere in the park, with less chance of predators homing in for a meal. The second "migration" occurs at the beginning of the rainy season in March.

The animals disperse into Maasailand, which covers about 20,500 sq kms. When the Maasai steppe begins to dry up, around about beginning of June, the animals return to the squalors of the Tarangire River. During all this action, the resident animals of Tarangire, amongst others, waterbuck, impala, dikdiks, giraffe and elephant, stay behind at patiently wait for the rains. Vast herd of elephant can be found in the park at any time of the year and are a spectacular, yet sometimes scary sight. The best time to visit the park is from July to December, when the vegetation is greener, and there is ample wildlife.

Certain sections of the park have relentless tsetse flies which will force you to keep your windows shut, and during the rainy season, your sense of adventure will materialise when (on the odd occasion) your vehicle may get stuck in black cotton soil. This is not something to fret about, as the driver guides (along with the help of sometimes eager visitors other drivers) dig the car out.

The swamps which are tinged green throughout the year are the focus for 550 bird species. This makes it the habitat with most breeding species anywhere in the world.

On the drier part of the lake, you can spot the Kori Bustard which is the heaviest flying bird, and the ostrich, the largest bird in the world. Besides that and small parties of ground hornbills blustering like turkeys.

For most patient and ardent bird-lovers, they might spot the colourful yellow-collared lovebird, the rufous-tailed weaver, and ashy starling. These are all endemic to the dry savannah of north-central Tanzania.

The abandoned termite mounds are frequented by endearing dwarf mongoose and 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.

Summary, Tarangire National Park

  • Size: 2,600 sq km (1,005 sq miles).
  • Location: 118 km (75 miles) southwest of Arusha.

Getting there
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 the villages of Maasai and Barabaig where you’ll see hundreds of ancient rock paintings in Kolo which is locatd on the Dodoma Road.

Year round, but dry season (June to September) is recommended