TARANGIRE NATIONAL PARK
TARANGIRE national park
Tarangire lies to the south of the large open grass plains of southern Maasailand and is the best-kept secret on the northern safari circuit. It offers wonderful panoramas of wide savannah grasslands dotted with open acacia woodland studded with large Baobab trees. The density of game is second only to the crowded Ngorongoro Crater. With 2600 square kilometers, this is a most spectacular park during the dry season when several thousands of animals migrate to the Tarangire River. A special feature of the park is the Greater Kudu but it is also good for rhino, elephant, buffalo, lion and a host of other species. The reserve has nine distinct vegetation areas and generally covers arid acacia/thorn bush country.
This is a year-round park with distinct seasons offering different experiences, from dusty, dry and baking with animals clustered around the rapidly reducing river, to the fecund green season full of new-born animals and chattering birds. The only months to avoid are during the heavy rainfalls of April and May. Tarangire is a dry season refuge for many migratory animals (elephants, wildebeest, zebra, gazelles, eland and buffalo), that spend many months of the year outside the park on traditional grazing corridors linking Tarangire with other protected areas.
What to see and do
Guided walking safaris. Day trips to Maasai and Barabaig villages, as well as to the hundreds of ancient rock paintings in the vicinity of Kolo on the Dodoma Road. More ardent bird-lovers might keep an eye open for screeching flocks of the dazzlingly colourful yellow-collared lovebird, and the somewhat drabber rufous-tailed weaver and ashy starling – all endemic to the dry savannah of north-central Tanzania. Tarangire’s pythons climb trees, as do its lions and leopards, lounging in the branches where the fruit of the sausage tree disguises the twitch of a tail.
Best time to visit
The best time to go on safari in Tarangire National Park is towards the end of the dry season (September to November), when animals from the surrounding ecosystem concentrate in large numbers near the Tarangire River, which is the only permanent water source in the area. There are two rainy seasons, the short rains which generally occur in November and December, and the long rains, from mid March to the end of May. Although many visitors are anxious about the rains this can be a great time to visit the park. Dramatic skies and fabulous sunsets are not uncommon. Rain showers are usually heavy but short, allowing plenty of time to get out and see animals indulging on the flush of verdant grass.