Tarangire National Park is the sixth largest national park in Tanzania after Ruaha, Serengeti, Mikumi, Katavi and Mkomazi. The national park is located in Manyara Region. The name of the park originates from the Tarangire River that crosses through the park, being the only source of water for wild animals during dry seasons. During the dry season thousands of animals migrate to the Tarangire National Park from Manyara National Park.
It lies a little distance to the south east of Lake Manyara and covers an area of approximately 2,850 square kilometers(1,100 square miles.) The landscape and vegetation is incredibly diverse with a mix that is not found anywhere else in the northern safari circuit. The hilly landscape is dotted with vast numbers of Baobab trees, dense bush and high grasses.
Although Tarangire is one of only four parks on Tanzania’s sometimes frenetic ‘northern circuit’, it is often either missed out, or given less than 24 hours, by the many relatively cursory mini-bus tours. This means that few get beyond the park’s busy northern section, where the majority of camps and lodges is situated.
If you decide to come to Tarangire at all, then we recommend spending a few days in the south of the park, which gets few visitors and retains a real air of wilderness.
The park is famous for its huge number of elephants, baobab trees and tree climbing lions. Visitors to the park can expect to see any number of resident zebra and wildebeest in addition to the less common animals. Other common animals include waterbuck, giraffe, and olive baboons.
Home to more than 550 species, the park is a haven for bird enthusiasts who can expect so see dozens of species even in the dry season. The swamps are the focus of the largest selection of breeding birds anywhere in the world. Yellow-collared Lovebirds are a common bird sighting in the trees along the Tarangire River.
The park is also famous for the termite mounds that dot the landscape. Those that have been abandoned are often seen to be home to dwarf mongoose.
Think of Tarangire 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 Maasai 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.
Particularly large numbers of elephant herds congregate here, as do many wildebeest and zebra. 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. The localized and unusual gerenuk and fringe-eared Oryx also occur here, though in our experience they are seen exceedingly rarely. There are still thought to be a few black rhino in the park.
Lion are common throughout Tarangire, as are leopard, whilst cheetahs seem to favour the more open areas of the south. Spotted hyena are always around, and whilst wild dog do sometimes pass through; sightings of them are rare.
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