Tarangire National Park

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Tarangire National Park

It will leave you speechless and then turn you into an adventure story teller! Welcome to “off the beaten path” Tarangire National park famous for hosting the oldest elephant known for giving birth to twins though less thronged in comparison to its well-known fellow magical northern circuit safari parks of Tanzania like Serengeti national park that safari goers dash to. Tarangire national park has been dubbed the “park of giants” by a legion of true Africa safari adventure enthusiasts and rightfully so since its home to bounteous gigantic African safari icons starting with the mystic ancient gigantic African baobab trees that effortlessly have conversations with African clouds whilst dwarfing everything in its environ, then the majestic African wildlife kings the lexodonta africana (African elephants) not forgetting the larger than life birds the Kori bustards dubbed the masai ostrichs weighing an astonishing 20 kg making them unquestionably the heaviest birds to take to the skies, clearly you haven’t been on an authentic adventurous African safari till you take this unbeaten path of Tarangire national park.

Tarangire National park was established in 1970 somewhat off the magical northern safari circuit route in northern Tanzania a 2 hours’ drive from Arusha, in the spectacular manyara region bordering the Tarangire wildlife conservation areas in the north a grazing ground for the natives and surrounded by other conservation areas whilst it lounges on a diverse habitat area measuring well over 2,850 square kilometres it comes in sixth size wise amongst the national parks of Tanzania after the national parks of Serengeti, Mikumi, Ruaha, Mkomazi and Katavi not a mean feat considering its ten times larger than lake manyara national park and the same size as the island of Zanzibar.

Tarangire national park is a part of the tarangire ecosystem also known as tarangire- manyara ecosystem or Maasai meadow however it has a peculiar beautiful ecosystem not characteristic of the northern safari circuit parks consisting of intriguing diverse habitats synonymous with the southern safari circuit Tanzanian parks like Ruaha thus making it an exclusive safari destination on the northern safari circuit sliced through by the tarangire river, dotted with all year emerald tinged swamps full of elephant grass, colonies of ancient baobab trees, savanah grasslands, thick acacia woodlands, rolling hills, rocky outcrops (kopjes), riverine vegetation like palm trees not forgetting the numerous sun baked red earth termite skyscrapers. In unison these habitats form an unbelievable niche of wildlife in tarangire national park making it second in terms of wildlife concentration of all Tanzanian national parks after the monumental Serengeti national park, at the same time it has the largest concentration of elephants in East Africa and only second to Botswana’s terrific Chobe National Park in the whole of Africa, all because of the abundant foliage, water and breeding grounds for the wildlife in Tarangire national park.

Tarangire national park is home to the African safari big five (elephant, cape buffalo, rhino, lion and leopard) with the exception of of the rhinos that are extinct in this area as well as a home to the endangered three animals that can be found nowhere else in Tanzania but here that is the gerenuks, the fringe-eared oryx and the towering greater kudu plus lots of other large mammals like zebras, giraffes, hippos, white bearded wildebeests and small mammals like the hartebeests, impalas, elands and reedbucks plus a superfluity of predators like the cheetahs, spotted hyenas, round eared wild dogs, the elusive leopards high up on the baobab trees scanning for prey, tree climbing pythons, over 700 resident lions not forgetting the monkeys and baboons. Oh yes tarangire national park is an authentic birding haven with well over 550 bird species registered here and the bird’s main habitat being the swamps, are a thing of a marvel as they are the highest bird breeding grounds in the whole world. Several aquatic, terrestrial, Eurasian migratory and resident birds like the African grey flycatcher, great white pelican, northern pied babbler, Donaldson-smith nightjar, rufos tailed weaver, pink breasted lark, Ashy starling and many more other birds not forgetting the masai ostrich the heaviest bird to take to the skies.

Tarangire national park has got several exceptional features that every visitor must be on the lookout for when on a safari to the park, the trail blazer being river tarangire from which the park is christened, it is a perennial river that slices through the park with its source based in the highland escarpments of babati district especially the hills of irangi from where it flows east to chubi and then turns north flowing through tarangire national park where it meanders through to the west and then southwards where it deposits in lake Burunge. That said this river is the heart beat of the park being a primary source of water and fodder on its banks especially during the dry seasons when the tarangire ecosystem turns brown and grasss brittles due to the unrelenting heat from the generously smiling sun that sucks water out of almost everything in the park to a point of even constricting the river to a narrow patch and the swamps shrinking as well, meaning it’s this river that attracts animals from far and wide creating a spectacular wildebeest annual migration of its own with several migratory ungulates coming through to have the last sweet drops of water that only river tarangire has plus its sumptuous riverine vegetation a meal the herbivores only dreamt of when starting their migration to the bunks, so you’ll find elephants on the bunks of the river digging the floors of the river so the river springs can bring forth water where several other herbivores eventually will be drinking from as well of course the sheer number of herbivores at the bunks of the river attract a large number of predators that have come to have their bellies full so the banks of this river are full of splendid wildlife drama with no blinking time because there is a lot of wildlife action rolling as if choreographed to the amusement of the visiting audience from all angles and directions making it a perfect strip for wild game drives and hot air balloon safaris.

The colonies of the iconic African mystic ancient baobab trees dotted all over the park are a jaw dropping scene out of what seems like an adventure movie a marvel well portrayed by the famous Africa expert writer Ryszard Kapuściński who metaphorically captures them as “just like the elephants are kings among animals so are the baobabs among the trees” with baobab trees standing an overwhelming over 30m tall up high in the African clouds with its long lasting resistant 11 meters diameter larger than life bloated trunks and bizarre branches with leaves that look like roots no wonder the myth that it was a second attempt at pulling off the tower of babel mission and the deity that be couldn’t allow any such gimmick and he just simply turned the tree upside down with its roots out for all to see and never attempt such a feat. These play a very vital role in the Tarangire national park as they provide food, indirect water and shelter to the birds and animals where you will find leopards up in the branches scouting for prey, birds nesting up in the branches not forgetting the bats and insects that call it home as well and the family of thick skinned animals like the hippos and elephants that rub their backs on the the trees trunk and tear off its bark for foliage at the same time using its shadows as shelter during the unforgiving sunny days. There is a famous one known as the poacher’s lookout tree that has become a must see in the park, it has a tiny man made entrance that ushers one into the hollow interior which can accommodate over 20 people. It was used as a hiding point for poachers to avoid detection by the game wardens but now it’s a favourite visitors site and when at it please watch out for the colonies of bees inside the trunk.

The swamps of tarangire national park mainly located in the south are all year emerald tinged and they are an avid birders haven with a worldwide birding accolade of having the most breeding bird species in one habitat anywhere in the world so birders will have a ball in these swamps of tarangire as they will feast on the colourful sights and earful sounds of birds like the red-billed hornbills, the different kinds of raptors, the ostriches, the lilac breasted rollers, the southern ground hornbills and many more birds not forgetting the numerous herbivorous mammals that descend in the swamps to nourish and cool off as well so it’s a spot for a thrilling walking safari as the marshes tend to dry out and animals take refuge in what remains of the swamp where is it’s the ideal spot for birding in the wet seasons with a plethora colourful noisy birds taking to the swamps to build nests, make love and breed a birding sight to behold a bird hive of activities so to speak.

The park fascinatingly has got vast red earth sun baked termite skyscrapers all over the park and the dormant ones being occupied by the dwarf mongoose while around the active ones be on the lookout for pangolins rolling into a ball whilst it picks up several termites it will have for dinner plus the termites attract birds as well so several birds will be on these spots protein nourishing not forgetting coloured lizards will be out in full force as well and after a full protein meal termites will dash to the nearby several rocky outcrops to recharge their solar powered bodies as they nod their heads in appreciation of the element of nature.

Tarangire national park inhabits the kolo rock art site situated a few minutes from the main gate of the park, it is a proposed world heritage and prehistoric rock shelter site with ancient rock drawings and artefacts belonging to the early man on display so a trip down to kolo will give visitors an opportunity to appreciate the evolution of themselves as a species a very sobering moment that will be full of reflection on what humanity has this far achieved and the possibilities yet ahead. On this same sight visit one shouldn’t miss out the cultural visits to the Maasai and Barabaig villages in the vicinity of the park to immerse themselves in the cashless ancient ways of life and customs of these world renown mystic people of Africa.

The breath taking views of the neighbouring masai meadows and the southern mountain ranges from tarangire national park are heavenly and will get every visitor of the park intrinsically taking pictures of this short of divine art work of nature religiously in a manner that highlights the phrase “I wish this safari could go on forever, well! at least I have plenty of images to show for the wonderful times”.

Top things you simply must do in Tarangire NP

lake manyara national park - Family Wildlife Game Drives

Africa Safari Game Drives

Tarangire has the second highest concentration of wildlife of any Tanzanian national park after the Serengeti national park and during the dry season it has the second largest concentration of elephants in the world after the Chobe national park in Botswana. With the staggering numbers of herbivores like zebras, hippos, wildebeests, dik diks, antelopes, giraffes and carnivores like lions, leopards, cheetahs, wild African dogs and many more animals spread all over the park hence its only logical that the main activity inside the park is a typical adventurous game drive. The park offers morning, late afternoon and night game drives which will give visitors an upclose inexplicable encounter with the wildlife of tarangire national park with several routes used where the lemiyon route covering the northern part of the park from the park headquarters airstrip and public campsites will expose the visitors to a spectacular view of several herbivores especially elephants and hippos and predators like the lions scouting for prey and leopards strategically elevated high up the ancient baobab root like branches as well as the ancient baobab trees are a frequent fixture on this route with even the famous poachers hide out one situated on this route. Then the eastern matete route named after the elephant grass on the river banks is the absolute route for game viewing as wildlife as well as birding since game and birds are plentiful on this route, then the western 80 km pleasant drive of lake Burungi meandering through the rough acacia woodlands once here visitors shouldn’t blink for in the branches of the acacia a leopard is relaxing after a sumptuous meal peacefully digesting as it also enjoys the serene beautiful views and breeze coming in from lake manyara and lake Burungi as well as the magnificent views of the milima mitatu (spell three hills in swahilli) a route for tranquil mind-blowing photographic panoramas. The game drives will also go through the kitibong hill route that covers the western section characterised with evergreen Gursi floodplains, acacia woodlands inhabited by buffalos, elephants, giraffes and hippos cooling off in the muddy floodplains then the southern gursi lamarku routes featuring mainly open grasslands that are inhabited by gazelles, zebras, wildebeests, oryx, gerenuks that are grazing away but with the wild african dogs and lions scheming for their next meal as the chettahs wait to scavenge obviously. All these routes will be enjoyed in the comfort of a 4*4 tour vehicle with stopovers at various picnic points to stretch and have a bite before resuming the drive.

Bird Watching in Samburu

Bird Watching

Tarangire national park is a haven for avi bird the park’s savannah grasslands, forest galleries and banks of Tarangire River are home to over 550 bird species thus making bird watching experience possible in Tarangire national park. Bird watching experience in the park taking a stroll in the park’s trails crossing through savannah plains, acacia, baobab trees and swamps dominating the eastern and southern region of the park. Tarangire national park is an unmatched birding destination in Tanzania a birders haven so to speak with well over 550 bird species registered in the park mainly attracted to silale swamps that are all year tinged green with the major attraction of Eurasian migratory birds being the spectacular insect life in the park during the rainy season. The parks swamps have a world renown accolade for having the most breeding bird species in one habitat anywhere in the world. It inhabits both migratory, resident, aquatic and terrestrial birds like the yellow-collared lovebird, the Guinea fowl, the northern pied babbler, the lappet-faced vulture, the bateleur eagle, the locally rare bushveld pipit, the rufous-tailed weaver, ashy starling, worthy to mention is East African newbie called the pygmy falcon the smallest bird on the continent not forgetting the heaviest bird to ever take to the skies the kori bustards dubbed the masai ostrich and many more birds. The incredible birdlife in tarangire national park make it a birders mecca destination where all avid birders and regular visitors ought to make a birding safari pilgrimage to to have a slice of the heavenly birding experience through the acacia woodlands, the silale swamps, open grasslands, the baobab forest galleries and river banks with exceptional sights and sounds of the screeching droves of the gloriously bright yellow-collared lovebirds, the turkey blustering hornbills and many more beautiful therapeutic bird sounds.

Samburu Village Visits

Masaai Village tours

A visit to tarangire without a cultural tour of the masai village is an incomplete safari as you’ve not paid homage to the keepers of these open fields tantamount to visiting a friend and not saying your bye-byes , the maasai are a pastoral ancient people whose cultures have not been fouled with any western way of leaving hence their ways of life they have preserved giving visitors who visit their villages an opportunity to break the monotony of the western life while experiencing an authentic African way of life in terms of feeding on blood from their livestock, their passage of rites, making of artefacts like stools, then partake in their colourful jumping dances a very aerobic session you won’t need a gym in the next few plus the villages will offer an opportunity for one to buy genuine souvenirs like beaded necklaces, metallic bangles, the brightly coloured masai shuukas and many other artefacts from the real makers of these artefacts in the maasai villages.

Nature walks conducted by local Maasai/ Samburu warriors

Nature walks

Nature walks dubbed walking safaris are a thrilling experience in Tarangire national park mainly done in the eastern and southern regions of the park especially during dry season because then the marshy lands are traversable on foot while encountering shy animals hidden away in the bushes as well the confident ones in the open such as the wildebeests, the zebras, gazelles, the lions, sometimes the elusive leopards and obviously the unmissable herds of elephants, greater kadu, dik-dik, hartebeests and many more animals.th walk will also expose one to a plethora of birds in the woods, swamps and grasslands like the Ashy starling, bare faced go-away bird, , great white pelican, northern pied babbler, Donaldson-smith nightjar and many more not forgetting the vegetation cover of the park one will be encountering. These walks will be with the aid of a very knowledgeable guide who will take a participant to the best viewing spots, advise on the dos and don’ts of a safari in this park as he walks you through the details of everything you encounter on this walk a real productive bush school that will pump wildlife knowledge into one like never.

Hot Air Baloon Safaris Tarangire

Hot Air Baloon Safaris

The hot air balloon will calmly and slowly propel visitors to the sky like a bird far above the clouds in silence allowing them to dream with open eyes, affording them the freedom to muse over what’s happening on the floor of the park while presenting the visitors a tranquil pleasurable aerial view of the spectacular landscape of tarangire national park, its relaxing environs and its stunning diverse habitats overflowing with a surplus of wildlife flatteringly decorating the park, a priceless privilege only a few could or have ever experienced. Exceptionally! watching the Baobabs from above is an out of this world experience a dream like adventure one will hold onto forever for lack of better words it’s an unforgettable floatation experience.

River rafting in ewaso ngiiro

River rafting in ewaso ngiiro

Yes, with rains deciding to pour during rainy seasons it real pours and they create quite a tide on the river in Samburu national park, Samburu visitors will grab a puddle and get in the rough waters of the river to test its might an adrenaline packed hair raising activity for the water rafting enthusiasts.