Covering an undulating 2,600 Kms², Tarangire National Park stands between the plains of the Maasai Steppe to the Southeast and the lakes of the Great Rift Valley to the North and West. Much of the park is grassland together with swamplands and flood plains, which feed the Tarangire River. Large baobab trees, particularly in the Northern section of the park, stand dotted across the landscape dominating the scenery. Many of the trees are hundreds of years old. Elsewhere there is acacia woodland, open bush and groves of palm trees.
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 large elephant herds, lions, cheetahs and leopards, zebra, klipspringer, dik dik, kudus and oryx, 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.
To be able to understand why Tarangire’s game varies with seasons, you need to think of it as part of a much larger ecosystem. From November to May, much of the game leaves the Park headed Northwest 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.
At its best, the game in Tarangire can be excellent. Particularly large number of elephant herds that congregate here, as do many wildebeest and zebra. There are also significant population of impala, giraffe, eland and buffalo. Thompson’s gazelle, Coke’s hartebeest, bohor reedbuck and both greater and lesser kudu are found here. Lion are common throughout Tarangire, as are leopard, whilst cheetahs seem to favour the more open areas of the South. Spotted hyenas are always around, and whilst African wild dogs do sometimes pass through; sightings of them are very rare.
Tarangire is another park known for its tree climbing lions. It is also famous for its African rock pythons, which are known for climbing trees and very big herds of buffalo, as well as large herds of elephants. The river and its surrounding watering holes also attract numerous species of birds to the area. Over 500 species of birds have been recorded in the park, including green wood hoopoes, green and yellow parrots, yellow-collared lovebirds and swallows.
This is one of Africa’s little-known gems. The Park offers picturesque views of savannah lands, acacia stands, clusters of baobab trees, and large herds of elephant. Tarangire is the spirit of a Tanzanian safari experience.