Tarangire National Park
Tarangire National Park has some of the highest elephant population density in Tanzania, and its sparse vegetation, strewn with baobab and acacia trees, makes it a beautiful and distinct place to visit. Tarangire is a popular stop for people traveling through the northern safari circuit on their way to Ngorongoro and the Serengeti. It is only a few hours drive from Arusha. The park is divided into two game-controlled areas, and the wildlife is free to roam throughout.
Thousands of gazelles, wildebeests, zebras, and giraffes migrate to Tarangire National Park’s scrub plains before the rains, where the last grazing land remains. Tarangire provides unrivaled game viewing, and elephants abound during the dry season. Pachyderm families forage around the ancient trunks of baobab trees and strip acacia bark from thorn trees for their afternoon meal. Tarangire is a memorable stopover because of the breathtaking views of the Maasai Steppe and the mountains in the south.
While migratory wildebeest, zebra, buffalo, impala, gazelle, hartebeest, and eland crowd the shrinking lagoons, herds of up to 300 elephants scratch the dry river bed for underground streams. It has the highest concentration of wildlife outside of the Serengeti ecosystem – a feast for predators – and is the only place in Tanzania where dry-country antelope like the stately fringe-eared oryx and peculiar long-necked gerenuk can be seen regularly.
During the rainy season, the seasonal visitors disperse over a 20,000 sq km (12,500 sq mile) area until the green plains are exhausted and the river calls once more. However, Tarangire’s elephant herds are easily encountered, wet or dry. The swamps, which are green all year, are home to 550 bird species, the most breeding species in one habitat anywhere on the planet.
On drier ground, you can see the Kori bustard, the world’s heaviest flying bird; the stocking-thighed ostrich, the world’s largest bird; and small groups of turkey-like ground hornbills. Screeching flocks of the dazzlingly colorful yellow-collared lovebird, as well as the somewhat drabber, rufous-tailed weaver and ashy starling, are all endemic to the dry savannah of north-central Tanzania.
Termite mounds are frequently visited by colonies of the endearing dwarf mongoose and pairs of red-and-yellow barbets, which attract attention with their loud, clockwork-like duetting. Tarangire’s pythons, like its lions and leopards, climb trees and lounge in the branches where the fruit of the sausage tree conceals the twitch of a tail.
An easy drive from Arusha or Lake Manyara following a surfaced road to within 7km (four miles) of the main entrance gate; can continue to Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti.
Charter flights from Arusha and the Serengeti.