Tarangire National Park
Its unrivalled landscape of open plains, dotted with thousands of baobabs, is unforgettable. Tarangire rivals the Serengeti for the size of the game herds that congregate here at dry season (June to November). This is when many of the animals crowd around the only source of permanent water in the park, the Tarangire River. This is also the best place in Tanzania to see huge herds of elephant – up to 300 at a time.
Tarangire should be thought as part of a much larger ecosystem, and you’ll understand why its game varies with the seasons. From November to May, much of the game leaves the park; herds of wildebeest and zebra head north-west onto the floor of the Rift Valley, whilst many animals disperse across the vast open areas of the Maasi Steppe. From around June to October, it’s dry and the game returns to Tarangire’s swamps and, especially, its river system. This is the best season for a game-viewing safari in Tarangire, which can be excellent.
Tarangire National Park contains nine different vegetation zones, each supporting distinct types of wildlife. The park is named after the Tarangire River that runs through the center of the park providing the only permanent water source in the area. During the dry season, the river serves water to elephant herds up to 300 members strong, big cats like lions, cheetahs and leopards, hoofed beasts from zebra to klipspringer to dikdik, seldom-seen creatures like kudus and oryx, tough characters like warthogs, hyenas, and African wild dogs, and the gentle giraffe, harems of baboons, hippos. Water levels remain high enough to make the river a permanent source of water.
By October, the park is full, the population swelled by mini-migrations of wildebeest and zebra that join the vast herds of elephant at the water holes. However, there is a permanent and sizeable resident population throughout the year, including lion, leopard, cheetah, hyena and hunting dog; elephant and some mammals rarely seen in the other parks of the Northern Circuit, such as Kudu and fringe-eared Oryx.
With a range of environments and good game, Tarangire’s birdlife is also varied – and over 500 species have been recorded here, including ashy starlings and large flocks of beautiful yellow-collared lovebirds, both of which are endemic to Tanzania.
Tarangire is another park known for its tree-climbing lions, and for its very big herds of buffalo. This is one of Africa’s little-known gems and should be on the itinerary of all lovers of wilderness and solitude. The Park offers picturesque views of savannah lands, acacia stands, clusters of baobab trees, large herds of elephant and large tracts of rarely visited gamelands. Taragire is the spirit of the Tanzanian Safari experience.