Tarangire National Park: Best Tanzania Safaris
Tarangire is a wonderful national park, lying just southeast of lake Manyara and around the Tarangire river, from which it derived its name. The 2600 sq km park attracts one of the highest concentrations of wild life in Tanzania during the dry season (between August – October). During this time, the river provides the only permanent water in the area and forms a “dry season retreat” for the wildlife in the southern Maasailand. There are normally fewer tourist here than Ngorongoro, which makes the park even more attractive. Tourist activities center on game drives, combined with stunning landscapes views, featuring riverine forests, acacia woodlands, ancient baobab trees and rolling hills, which makes the park really worthwhile visiting. The Tangire National Park is reputed to contain some of the largest elephant herds in Africa. The park is also home to two rare species – the Greater kudu and Fringed-eared Oryx – as well as Ashy starlings.
THE TARANGIRE MIGRATION
The Tarangire National Park forms part of a bigger ecosystem of over 20,000 sq km, which includes Lake Manyara National Park in the north as well as five other surrounding game controlled areas. The key to the ecosystem is the Tarangire river, and the main animal migration begins from the river at the beginning of the short rains around Oct Nov. At the height of the rainy season, the animals, which include wildebeest, Thompson gazelles, zebra and even elephants, will spread out over this 20,000sq km area. When the wet season ends the animals begin start their migration back and spend the dry season Jul – Oct concentrated around the Tarangire River.
The Lemiyon route covers the most northerly triangle of the park. The park headquarters, airstrip and the public campsites are located in this section of the park. Wildlife is very often encountered in great numbers throughout this region and this is where you will see the fascinating and majestic baobab trees. Many of them are very, very old, dating back to the first millennium. One particular famous one, known as “Poachers Lookout”, has a small man-made entrance that admits you into its hollow interior, which easily provides room for about six people to sleep. To avoid detection by warden patrols, poachers used this tree. Beyond Lemiyon the park is split into the Matete route in the east and the Lake Burungi route to the west. The eastern Matete route, named after the tall elephant grass and reeds that grow on the Tangire riverbanks, is the best are for game viewing at the river. Both game and more specifically the bird life is prolific in this area. To the west the Lake Burungi route, a beautiful drive of about 80 km, which meanders through combretum and acacia woodlands. With a bit of luck it is quite possible to encounter leopard and rhino in this area. The route also features lovely views of lakes Burungi and Manyara as well as the peaks of Milima Mitatu or “Three Hills”.
The Kitibong Hill route covers the western section of the park and is centered around Kitibong Hill. It features combretum and acacia woodlands, the Gursi floodplains to the south, as well as a large variety of plain animals including buffalo and elephant. The Gursi and Lamarkau routes are based in southern part of the park, which offers grasslands, home to many plain grazing species, including ostrich. During the wet season large areas are transformed to swamp areas, where it is possible to see hippo. The most southern end of the park is split into two areas known as Mkungunero (south-west) and Nguselororobi (east), which offers a number of freshwater pools, attracting many different species, including the illusive cheetah, if you are lucky.
WHEN TO GO
The fist migration animals start to arrive during early June, and will remain in the Park until November – just before the start of the short rainy season – when the migration moves north again. This annual wildlife migration makes for fantastic game viewing in the dry season. Don’t fret if you cannot coincide your trip with the migration period – many animals including elephants, lions, cheetahs, leopards, hyenas, buffaloes, giraffes, zebras, a wide range of antelopes and warthogs – stay in the park all year round. Although the park has many animals to be seen during the rainy season – you will however have to content with lush vegetation, rain and the plentiful insect population. June to March is the dryer months with June to October the prime time to visit.
LODGES AND CAMPS
There are several tented camps and luxury lodges available around Tarangire National Park. Please click here to get full details of all camps and tents in Tarangire.