Commissioned as a national park in 1970, Tarangire National Park is the sixth largest national park in Tanzania after Katavi, Mikumi, Mkomazi, Ruaha, and Serengeti. It covers 2,850 sq km of grassland and floodplains, and a large proportion of tall acacia woodland just south of the open grass plains of southern Masai land. The Park has an incredible ecosystem, which shelters a wide variety of wildlife. It boasts a mixture of verdant, green grass, highlands and huge trees that are a perfect habitat for several rare species of birds. The most popular of these trees being the gigantic African Baobab tree, dotted around the park in tremendous populations.
Tarangire National Park derives its name from Tarangire River which crosses at its center. The river is the only permanent source of water for the wild animals, especially during the dry spells. During such seasons, that is around mid-August all animals congregate at this point, which is their last reliable water source.
Famous for its huge number of elephants, thousands of baobab trees and tree climbing African pythons, Tarangire lies south east of Lake Manyara and covers an area of approximately 2,850 sq km. Although it is relatively small, the park enjoys easy accessibility and boasts with some of the greatest concentrations of game in Tanzania -second only to the Ngorongoro Crater also an added bonus which makes it a truly incomparable scene attractive to many tourists than other Tanzanian parks. It is the vast number of baobabs that first capture the eye as you enter Tarangire National Park. The gently rolling countryside is dotted with these majestic trees, which seem to dwarf the animals that feed beneath them.
Tarangire has regions of a pretty dense bush, but with high grasses and massive aged baobab trees unlike green forests of Manyara. The land is hilly and dominated by the imposing valley of the Tarangire River and attracts good numbers of migrant animals during the dry months, more commonly between July and September. The National Park, however, is a quiet, seasonal park with wide views to distant volcanic mountain ranges.
Tarangire is also the best place in Tanzania to observe buffalo and huge numbers of an elephant (up to 300 at one spot). In reality, the game numbers overall are overwhelming: 3,000 elephants, 5,000 buffalos, 2,500 Masai giraffes, 25,000 zebras, 25,000 wildebeests plus over 1,000 fringe-eared Oryx. Predators range from lions (tree-climbing just like their in Lake Manyara), cheetah and leopards. During the dry months, the concentration of animals around the Tarangire River doubles as in the Ngorongoro Crater. There are a few resident lions, which are easier to spot when the migration arrives to excite their taste buds since they don’t tend to abandon their territory. Tarangire is a great spot for elephant gatherings at the end of the rainy season in June, and zebra and wildebeest return together through July.
There are a fantastic number of colorful birds flying down and blustering along the rough paths throughout the year, with likely spots including the Paradise Whyder and endearing Yellow-collared lovebirds. In other months they look quite mean and lean and slip easily between the lengthening grasses. The park is also known for its great avian diversity, in which it is surpassed only by Lake Manyara. Tarangire is also a great place for spotting vultures. Many of these ragged scavenger birds hide on the dead looking trees waiting for predators to take all they want from their last victim’s carcass. Bird enthusiasts to the Park are also guaranteed sight of the endemic ashy starling, Rufous-tailed Weaver, and the black-collared lovebird.
Best Time to Go
The best times to visit are undoubtedly the dry season from mid-June to February. During this time concentrations of wildlife in the park get to stunning levels as migratory herds of wildebeest, zebra, buffalo, and elephant roam within the park in search of water sources, the Tarangire River and the Silale Swamp. As the land dries and the smaller rivers stop flowing, the herds head south towards the permanent water in the Tarangire River and its surrounding swamps. Predator animals such as the lions, leopard, and others also see this as a prime season for their prey around the river.
Tarangire Park Safaris
Guided Walking Safaris
Guided walking safaris in this area range from a gentle stroll near Tarangire Safari Lodge to a full day out on foot across the Park exploring the recently opened wilderness sections.
Because of the amazing bird life in this park and a safari visitor keen on bird watching is certain to spot about 100 different birds on a days trail.
Be warned though, the going can be rough and many of the tracks are impassable in the rainy season.