Tarangire National Park

Tarangire National Park is one of the national parks in Tanzania’s northern tourism circuit.  The park is frequently visited together with Serengeti, Ngorongoro and Lake Manyara. Located just a few hours’ drive from the town of Arusha, Tarangire National Park covers an undulating area of 2,600km2, between the plains of the Maasai Steppe to the southeast, and the lakes of the Great Rift Valley to the north and west. The northern part of Tarangire is dominated by the perennial Tarangire River, which flows north and west until it leaves the northwestern corner of the park to flow into Lake Burungi. In the south are a series of vast swamps, which dry into verdant plains during the dry season. Tarangire’s vegetation comprises of mostly dry, open woodlands, which include thorny acacia thickets and lots of its signature baobab trees. There are also some beautiful stands of flat-topped Acacia tortilis trees and the occasional palm tree. In the south of the park, amid these rolling woodlands, is an extensive network of swamps. These are impassable during the rains, but dry to a uniform green for the rest of the year.

The park’s most obvious features are the permanent Tarangire River, which runs the length of it, and the seasonal swamps, which are often dry for much of the year. Despite the fact that Tarangire is drier than the Serengeti, its vegetation is generally much denser including densely packed elephant grass, large areas of mixed acacia woodlands and some lovely ribbons of riverine forest.

Tarangire National Park is famous for the thousands of elephants that come down to the park during the dry season in search of water, but there are also substantial populations of impala, giraffe, eland and buffalo. Thompson’s gazelle, Coke’s hartebeest, bohor reedbuck and both greater and lesser kudu are found here. Lions are often sighted, and you might see leopards and cheetahs patrolling the grasslands, or perched in a tree. Wild dogs have been spotted before, but you have to get lucky to find them.

With a range of environments and good game, Tarangire’s birdlife is also varied and over 500 species have been recorded here, there is an outstanding range of feathery friends to encounter include ostriches, eagles, lovebirds, weavers, barbets, parrots, pelicans, nightjars, starlings, babblers, and the intriguingly named barefaced go-away bird! Be sure to pack your binoculars, if birding is your thing.

What to do in Tarangire National Park

Tarangire National Park is a great tourist destination in Tanzania offering breath-taking and memorable experiences to tourists visiting the park for a safari, safari activities offered in the park include

 

Game Drives/ Viewing

Game viewing in Tarangire is an obvious highlight, and it can be spectacular during the dry season with some of the highest number of animals in the country. Elephants in particular gather here in large numbers, with up to an awe-inspiring 500 along the riverbanks. Other animals you may witness include herds of buffalo, Thomson’s gazelle, wildebeest, zebra, gerenuk, hartebeest, kudu and oryx – but night drives present the opportunity for you to see animals that you have never heard of and are more unique. Night safaris are an extra special way to enjoy wildlife viewing in Africa, this activity can make a safari that much more memorable! Animals that come out at night-time include genet, civet, bush baby, porcupine, elephant shrew, and honey badger. This is just the start of the list and there is so much more to include, such as Africa’s hardest-to-find animals.

 

Bird Watching

Tarangire is a famous destination for bird watching with over 550 species recorded. Included on the list are Eurasian migrants, ostrich, hoopoes, parrots, hornbills, go away birds, helmeted guinea fowls, yellow-necked spur-fowl, crested francolins, yellow collared lovebirds, lilac breasted rollers, barbets, mouse birds, swifts, sparrows, Hammerkops ( King of the birds), plovers, owls, bustards including Kori bustard ( reputed to be the world’s heaviest flying bird. The best months for bird watching September to may. Outside the park is saline Lake Burunge with flocks of pink flamingos.

 

Cultural Encounters

Tarangire National Park is surrounded by Maasai Village, which also attracts visitors to visit and learn their culture, as they are unique in their lifestyles such as dressing style, their origin, stories, and way of dancing and cultural products made by Maasai people. Maasai people are one of the tribes among more than 120 tribes in Tanzania that are living their reality and are not forced by anything to change their culture which makes them unique compared to other culture or tribes of Tanzania.

 

Sight Seeing

While in Tarangire national Park, you will have a chance to visit different places, contemplate the environment of the park, and appreciate nature. Such areas for sightseeing are Tarangire River due to the presence of muddy digging elephants during the dry season searching for water. The river is also surrounded by baobab tree swamps and yellow barked fever trees. Sightseeing can also be done in the woodlands and acacia landscapes.

It can also be done at Silale Swamp where visitors get a chance to view varieties of predators including different animals and breath-taking views at the Sambu Mountains. It sometimes acts as a sponge especially during the rainy season but it also releases water during the dry season as it plays a major role in supporting the ecosystem in Tarangire National Park.

 

Nature Walks

The park offers a beautiful environment for morning and evening nature walks with experienced and armed guides. These are done on foot and can be done to scenic environments such as climbing to the top of a nearby mountain and bushwalking safaris where one will have a chance to see various birds and animals clearly without any obstruction, visitors use natural trails, which enable them to become deeply immersed with the nature of the natural environments.

WhEN TO VISIT Tarangire National Park

Tarangire National Park experiences two main seasons, which are the wet and dry seasons. The middle and the end of the dry season that runs from late June to October is the best time to view wildlife in Tarangire National Park. Most of the animals move out of the park during the wet season and viewing animals is at that time less rewarding. In June to October (the dry season), animals gather around the Tarangire River in large crowds offering easier opportunities for game viewing. Furthermore, since the vegetation is generally dry and thin due to lack of rain, it is easy to spot different wildlife. June to October still marks the high / peak tourist season with so many tourists filling the park. On the other hand, the low tourist season comes in March, April and May when the park is experiencing the wet season characterized with heavy rains, hence the worst weather.

In the wet season, the vegetation is stunning and adequate. The rates and prices may be much lower since it’s a low season. The wet season is also prime time for bird watching since the migratory birds are present then.

March to May mark the wettest months in Tarangire and it is considerably less rewarding to view the wildlife as compared to during the dry season since most animals move out of the park. The wet season consist of long rains that begin in March to May and then the short rains that come in November and December. The rains normally fall in the afternoons and it hardly lasts the entire day. Although you will not encounter as many animals as it is in the dry season especially the migratory species, you will still get a chance to see various resident animals including grazers like antelopes, and predators like Buffaloes.

In conclusion, Tarangire is considered as a classic dry reserve. When it rains, the animals move up into the Masaai steppe yet in the dry season, animals gather around the Tarangire River offering remarkable game views.

HOW TO GET To Tarangire National Park

There are two major ways you can access Tarangire National Park and that is either by road or air transport.

By Air

Flying into Kilimanjaro International AirPort (KIA) is the best option to get to Tarangire located, 46 kilometers (29 Miles) from Arusha.

Another possibility is to fly into Julius Nyerere International Airport (DAR), which is near Dar es Salaam and then arranging for a domestic flight at Arusha Airport (ARK).

Charter flights. One can also use charter flights from Arusha then to Serengeti and then finally to Tarangire. From Arusha to the entrance gate, be assured of a comfortable drive that will take you only 2hours, with which only 7kms of them are on a non-tarred road. From Tarangire it is quite easy to drive to the neighbouring the Ngorongoro Conservation area or Lake Manyara National Park.

 

By Road

The distance from Arusha to Tarangire National Park is approximately 140 km and takes about three hours’ drive to access the park.

 

Combining Tarangire with other National Parks

A safari to Tarangire can easily be combined with the neighbouring national parks, as there are good access roads as well as charter flights connection to these destinations.  From Tarangire National Park to Lake Manyara National Park, it is approximately 110 km and this takes about 2h 50min by road. You can also connect from Tarangire to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, which is located approximately 140 km, and this is about 3 hours’ drive away.