Tarangire National Park is one of the national parks located in the game-rich northern safari circuit. Covering an area of 2,850 sq km which makes it the sixth largest national park in Tanzania, it lies between the plains of Maasai Steppe and lakes and plains of Great Rift Valley. Characterized by dry, open woodlands and acacia thickets for most of the park, it is the baobab trees which are the signature of Tarangire. Furthermore, there are a network of stream and swamps which accommodate its wildlife.
The rich flora and fauna and its easy accessibility makes Tarangire National Park worthy of a visit. If you’re coming to Tarangire, then you should spend at least a day in here to get the true offerings as opposed to a brief an hour-two hour game drive which most tourists undertake and miss the bigger picture.
The river where this park got its name, Tarangire River dominates the northern part of the Tarangire National Park. It has its source in the highlands and escarpments of the Manyara and Dodoma Region. The river is the primary source of water for the wildlife and vegetation of this park. The game viewing around this river is excellent when there’s a shortage of water in the entire park and animals, both grazers and predators, congregate at the river bank to quench their thirst.
Elephants and other Wildlife
The park boasts of large herds of elephants. Some of the herds can be as big as 600 members at any point in time. In total, there are about 2500 elephants living within the boundary of Tarangire. What’s better is that the conservation efforts put into this park has resulted in 6% year over year growth of these elephants.
Along with that, there’s a fairly good concentration of big cats like lions, leopards, and other animal species like kudu, oryx, giraffes, gerenuk, dik dik, zebra, and the rare African Wild dog. Moreover, there are 550 species of bird, both native and migratory, that inhabit especially the river and the swamps. Despite its big size and relatively sparse wildlife concentration when compared with that of Serengeti or Ngorongoro, it has the highest mammal concentration of any of Tanzania’s national parks. Depending on the season, the herds migrate in and out of the park.
With over 550 bird species, Tarangire is a birding paradise. As the perennial Tarangire River flows through it and remains watered all year round along with the accompanying swamps, bird viewing can be enjoyed at any time of the year. Some of the adorable birds that are native to this park are Northern white-crowned shrike, yellow-necked spurfowl, black-necked weaver, White-faced whistling duck, red-billed hornbill, and pygmy falcon. Near the Tarangire River, there are a number of lodges where guests are accommodated. The scenic views from the lodges are stunning and game animals of the Tarangire National Park can be easily spotted from the balcony or terrace.
It still remains secluded, overlooked by many. Thus walking safari tours in the remotest of the wilderness is another highlight of this place.
Tarangire is outstanding seasonally for wildlife. In the Dry season, the Tarangire River is a magnet for migratory animals such as wildebeest, zebra, common eland, hartebeest, gazelle, buffalo and elephant – of which there are more than you can imagine. Lion are quite easily spotted at this time, as well.
Guided walking safaris, Game drives ,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 Road.
Best Time To Visit
The best time for a Tarangire safari is from June to October during the dry season when migrant game from elephants to hoofed herbivores congregate around the swamps and the Tarangire River valley.
How To Go
There are regular flights from Arusha and the Serengeti to Tarangire, but it is a comfortable two-hour drive from Arusha to the entrance gate, of which only the last 7km is not tarred. Moving on, it is an easy drive to Lake Manyara (100km/60mi in about two hours) or the Ngorongoro Crater (180km/110mi in about four hours