Tarangire National Park
Tarangire National Park
Located in northern Tanzania, Tarangire National Park is known particularly for its exceptional elephant sightings. Between June and October, a localized elephant migration takes place, and huge herds – of sometimes up to around 200 members per herd – can be seen. Elephants are one of the most desirable animals to see on safari and rightly so. They often portray a calm yet dominant presence, and simply watching them eat and interact with one other among the herd is always a special sighting.
It’s not just the African elephant that migrates in and out of Tarangire National Park. During the dry season, other species like wildebeest, gazelle, zebra and buffalo among others, migrate into the park. While other parks are much drier during these months, Tarangire National Park provides a reliable source of water, which is what attracts the animals. When the rains arrive in November across Tanzania, other national parks become greener and lusher. Water, fresh pasture and more space can be found in neighboring parks and large, open savannahs across the Rift Valley area so consequently, the animals start to migrate out of Tarangire to these other parks.
Tarangire National Park is also known for its incredible baobab trees – often referred to as the ‘tree of life’. These giant trees have complex and deep roots, and some of the trees in Tarangire are over 1,000 years old. Driving through the park on game drives is a diverse experience as you’ll see many variations in the landscape. The Tarangire River runs through the park and is an essential source of water for the park’s flora, fauna and animals. It’s also a great opportunity for sightings, with predators like lions often lurking in the shade on the banks.
There are different ways to enjoy a safari in Tarangire National Park. Because of its location in northern Tanzania, you can drive to Tarangire National Park from cities like Kilimanjaro and Arusha (approximately a three-hour drive). Often combined with neighboring parks like Manyara and the Ngorongoro Crater, this can be a private tour with a vehicle and driver/guide. Another option is to fly directly into the park, where your safari guide will meet you at the airstrip and begin your safari. For this option, camps located further south of the park are good options to stay in, like Kuro and Oliver’s Camp. These camps also offer activities like walking safaris and fly camping, which makes it a very diverse safari experience.
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Best camps in Tarangire National Park
Tarangire National Park, located in northern Tanzania is large and diverse. There are safari camps located both inside the national park, as well as outside the park in the greater Tarangire ecosystem, so it depends on what experience you are looking for, and how much time you have to spend in Tarangire. If you are combining the park with other parks on a private driving itinerary (like Lake Manyara, the Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti National Park), then we would recommend staying in a safari camp on the northern side of the park, which is close to the park entry. This is good for a one or two night stay in Tarangire.
If you are looking to enjoy a longer Tarangire safari, then you can fly into the airstrip which is located further south, inside the park. This area – with camps like Kuro, Oliver’s Camp, Little Oliver’s Camp, and Swala – is much quieter in terms of safari vehicles, because it’s much further into the park. These camps also offer a wider choice of activities, with fly camping, walking safaris and night drives being offered.
When to visit Tarangire National Park
Compared to other parks in Tanzania like the Serengeti National Park and the Ngorongoro Crater which are year-round safari destinations, Tarangire National Park is much more seasonal. While most of the safari camps are open throughout the year, the best time to visit is the June to October period. While this is the dry season across Tanzania, Tarangire National Park provides permanent water sources which attracts large numbers of wildlife – buffalo, elephant, antelope, zebra, and wildebeest among many others. When the rains arrive in November, the wildlife begins to move out of the park. That said, the period between November and April is regarded as the best for birdwatching, as many migrant birds can be seen from Europe and North Africa. Its resident birdlife is also fantastic, with approximately one-third of Tanzania’s bird species (approximately 500 species) found inside Tarangire National Park.
Gemma our African Specialist
What safari activities can you do in Tarangire National Park?
Game drives are the main safari activity in Tarangire National Park. These are mainly done in closed 4×4 safari vehicles with a pop-up roof for sightings (as opposed to open-sided vehicles). The reason being is that Tarangire National Park is often combined with other safari destinations on a private driving itinerary. For this reason, closed vehicles are required as you are driving distances between the parks. Some safari camps and lodges offer walking safaris. These are usually done in small groups (with a maximum of 6/7 people) and last a couple of hours. Guided by an armed ranger and a professional walking safari guide, you will learn about the smaller things of the bush that are often overlooked in safari vehicles.
Which destinations can you combine with a Tarangire safari?
Tarangire National Park is approximately a 3-hour drive from Kilimanjaro and Arusha town. This makes it very accessible as a starting destination for those who have flown into Kilimanjaro. From Tarangire National Park, you can combine safaris with Lake Manyara National Park, the Ngorongoro Crater, and then onto the jewel in Tanzania’s safari – the Serengeti National Park. The distances between these parks range around 3-4 hours depending on where you are staying, but the best thing about private driving safaris is that you can stop as much (or as little) as you like. You’ll pass through local Maasai villages and towns, markets, viewpoints and many more.
What is Tarangire known for?
Tarangire is known for its localized migration of animals that come into the park in the dry season, between June and October. The main draw into the park is the water source that runs through the park, which makes game viewing along the riverbank exceptional. Lion prides and other predators often reside along the banks, looking for opportunities with antelope and other animals that come to drink. The park is particularly famed for its elephant herds that reside in the park during the dry season – with numbers up to 10,000 elephants. Within this period, the park is home to the greatest concentration of wildlife outside the Serengeti National Park.
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