Au contraire to the popular belief, a visit to Tanzania isn’t all about plunging into the Serengeti or scaling the Kilimanjaro. The Tarangire national park might be shy of popular endorsement, but it has its own wild streak to flaunt. Make sure that you unveil the largely undiscovered beauty of this unique park. Nestled in the Manyara region, the Tarangire national park is the sixth largest national park of Tanzania, and it hosts an abundant diversity of wildlife. With herds of elephants like you’ve never heard of and chances of spotting four of the big five within its confines, this national park is one of the most underrated game viewing sites in Tanzania.
With hovering baobab and acacia trees, the river Tarangire cutting through its landscape and the largest elephant population in all of Tanzania, Tarangire national park beautifully reflects the Tanzanian majesty on its 2,850 square kilometer slice of wildlife real estate. If you don’t want to be one of the many who drop by only the most celebrated wildlife reserves, then you should take a plunge into this astounding park nestling in the shadows of Africa. It is located just 118 kms to the southwest of Arusha and can be covered while you pursue the main circuit on your Tanzania safari that is centered around Serengeti/Ngorongoro crater expeditions. For a one of a kind experience, include this different, untouched dimension on your itinerary, so that you can take your travel stories back home and recite them without hearing anyone say ‘ been there, done that’.
The African elephant, is definitely the big deal of the big five and this park promises elephant viewing in big numbers. The extensive elephant populations (the largest in Tanzania), bring Tarangire national park into the spotlight. You can spot herds of upto 300 elephants, hunting for underwater streams in the dry riverbed during the dry season. Even the wet season comes with promising sightings of the big mammal. An approximate number of 3000 elephants can be found within the confines of this national park during the peak season. The park is also home to three endangered animals that can be found nowhere else in the country, the fringe-eared oryx with its graceful horns, the towering greater kudu, and the tiny Ashy Starling. This magnificent location has many such rare and sensational wildlife encounters to await in its thick vegetation.
The lagoons are also populated with migratory wildebeest, zebra, buffalo, impala, gazelle, hartebeest and eland. The swamp network located in the eastern and southern regions of the park are a hotspot for game viewing. Elephants, cape buffalo, Silale swamp lions, tree climbing pythons and even the rare African wild dog gravitate to these water catchments and bring together an amazing peephole for you to catch some intriguing wildlife drama.
The tarangire national park is also home to a fair share of predators, lurking in its shadows. Although predator viewing is not as prominent as in some other parks in northern Tanzania, some sought-after species like the lion, cheetah and the leopard can be spotted here.
If you are a bird watching enthusiast, grab your binoculars and set into the Tarangire. The bird life in the park sweetens the winds with pleasant chirps and paints the Tanzanian skies like a canvas. If the wide and wild horizons are delightful, the bold and vibrant colors of the extensive bird population dress up the park with yet another shade of beautiful. Having upto 550 species of birds, which is the highest in Tanzania, the park is an evergreen bird watcher’s paradise that offers year-round viewing. The park hosts hoopoes, hornbills, brown parrots, white-bellied go away birds as well as game birds such as the helmeted guinea fowl, yellow neck spurfowl, the crested francolin and hundreds more. A diverse set of wings fly in this park owing to the network of swamps weaving across its distance. Take a tour and behold these fluttering wonders that never fail to astound an onlooker.
When to go?
Tarangire national park is a visual treat in the dry as well as the wet season and is brimming with evergreen delight. Although it offers year round viewing to its audience, you get to catch the wild at its prime during the dry season between August and October. The dry season sees the wild gravitating towards the water sources in the park to quench their thirst and that of their audience. This is also the perfect time to catch a glimpse of the migration within this park. The dry season also comes with the perks of excellent bird watching opportunities. The wet season, roughly spanning cross November to May sees a more scattered wildlife and a thicker vegetation. However, the wet season has a brief dry period in between. It is also a good time to catch the migratory birds. Block your calendar and strike when the time is right because the clock doesn’t wait for you and nor does the wild.
Like the elephant populations, the Baobab trees are signature trees of the park that are an integral part of its claim to fame. You cannot miss these wise old trees densely dotting the majestic plains and sheltering the sought after wilderness in its shade. Woodlands, open grassland plains, huge Baobab trees hovering above and the river Tarangire gurgling in its midst, together creates an enchanting landscape to delve into on your Safari in Tanzania.
With the Tarangire river and a swamp network as wildlife magnets, the park comes with promises of rare and intriguing wildlife encounters. Spot a herd of African elephants strolling the plains, watch out for some rare species of birds consuming the skies, catch the wild in their slumber after the darkness wraps around the park and makes way for a starlit Safari in Tanzania and soak in the enchanting silence of the plains as you wade into its depths with huge Baobab trees towering over you. Tarangire national park might not be the biggest sensation of Tanzania, but it is sure to give you a unique and off the charts experience to scribble down in your travel diaries.