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Herd of elephants in Tarangire.
  Tarangire NP
Size: 2,642 km2/1,020 sq mi.
Best time to visit: July to October. January and February can be good some years, depending on the rainfall.
Wildlife: Many species, including cats. A lot of elephants.
Getting there: A two-hour drive on fairly good to good tarmac road from Arusha. The last 10 km/6 mi are on dirt road.
Airstrips in the park provide easy and quick access from Arusha. Most airborne vistors come to stay to the upmarket lodges/camps in the southern parts of Tarangire.
Tarangire map
Tarangire map.
Tanzania map
Tanzania map.
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Tarangire National Park
By Tanapa.
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Tarangire National Park
Tarangire National Park is situated in northern Tanzania, south-west of Arusha and not very far west of Lake Manyara National Park and the Great Rift Valley escarpment.

Tarangire is the land of elephants and baobab trees. It is also a good park for seeing the general African wildlife, but the presence of animals is seasonal and depends on the rainfall. If you go there during the best time of the year, which is July to October, you may see a lot.

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The Tarangire River
The key to the wildlife is the Tarangire River, flowing from marshes in the south to Lake Burungi just outside the north-western park border. Water is found in the river all year round, and during dry seasons, after the water holes scattered throughout the park have dried out, the river is the only remaining source of drinking water to many animals. During these seasons, animals congregate in good numbers along the river, and are easy to find.

The river has less importance to the wildlife during rainy seasons, when surface water can be found all over the park. The animals disperse, and some even leave the park.

Baobab trees in the Tarangire sunset.

From savanna to wetland
Tarangire has nine zones of different vegetation, ranging from savanna and acacia woodland to wetland and riverine gallery forest. The huge baobab trees, which can live for many hundred years (according to some sources up to 2,000 years), can be seen in many areas. Their bulky trunks hold a lot of water, and it's not uncommon seeing other plants growing in baobab, parasitizing on this water supply. Most baobabs in Tarangire are damaged from elephants eating their bark, but the trees survive. You may even see trees surviving despite large holes straight through the trunk.

The wildlife
Tarangire has the largest elephant population of all parks in Tanzania, counting 3,000 individuals. They can be seen in anything from singles up to herds of hundreds. The best time to see them in good numbers is July to October.

The same goes for the rest of the wildlife, which is rich in species. Among the predators, you may see the three big African cats (lion, leopard and cheetah), hyaenas, jackals, mongoose and bat-eared foxes. Even the rare African wild dog (sometimes referred to as hunting dog) is spotted occasionally.

Herds of wildebeest and zebras migrate between Amboseli in Kenya and Tarangire, where they spend the dry season from July to October. Like many other species, they congregate in the areas surrounding the Tarangire River, and come to drink every day.

Giraffes, impalas and dikdiks are often seen, as are waterbucks and warthogs. There are small populations of lesser kudu and oryx, but these species are rarely seen. Elands, klipspringers and steinbucks are also rare, but seen occasionally. You're more likely to see African buffalos in grassland, or reedbucks along the river.

Elephants and giraffes. The Tarangire River provides water for the wildlife during the dry seasons.

Very good bird watching
The good number of different vegetation zones means a variety of habitats for birds. More than 500 bird species have been recorded in the park, making this a very good park for bird watching. The rainy seasons in November and April to May are often the very best, but you can expect a lot of birds and species during any part of the year. Most migrant birds are present during October to April.

Some birds often seen in Tarangire are white-browed coucal, white-bellied go-away bird, yellow-necked spurfowl, bateleur, emerald-spotted wood-dove, African orange-bellied parrot, yellow-collared lovebird, magpie shrike, southern ground hornbill, ostrich and ashy starling. Some other nice species we have seen are Diederik cuckoo, African fish eagle, African harrier-hawk, green wood-hoopoe and European bee-eater.

Pride of lions, including youngsters, in northern Tarangire.

Northern Tarangire
The northern part of the park, where Tarangire Safari Lodge and Tarangire Sopa Lodge are situated, has the most visitors. This is where the main park gate is found, and Lemiyon and Matete, two park areas of mixed grasslands and woodlands, where many acacias and baobab trees are seen. Impalas, waterbucks and giraffes are often observed here, as are the herds of zebras and wildebeest during the local migration season from July to October. Many other mammal species may also be seen.

There are many bush roads along and around the northern Tarangire River, making this a good area for game driving. Elephants, lions, baboons, waterbucks, buffalos and other species are often seen. Figs, sausage trees, borassus palms and tamarinds are some of the trees growing along the river.

Western Tarangire
An 80 km/50 mi game driving track named the Burungi Circuit leads into the western parts of northern Tarangire. This area is where you are most likely to encounter lesser kudu, eland and oryx. Tree euphorbias, or candelabra trees, can be seen here, as well as in other parts of the park. This roundish tree (or, rather, the genus to which it belongs) is said to have been named after king Juba II of Mauretania's chubby physician Euphorbus.

These parts of Tarangire, on the western side of the Tarangire River, were completely inaccessible during January and February 2007, as the river was flooded after a long spell of unusually rainy weather. No bridges or crossings were passable.

Gursi Swamp is found in the south-western and more remote parts of the park (where Swala Tarangire, an upmarket tented camp, is situated). These are the most likely areas where to find the African wild dog.

Marshes in south-eastern Tarangire.

Southern and south-eastern Tarangire
Southern and south-eastern Tarangire are vast areas of wilderness, crossed by few roads. Most visitors don't get this far south into the park. The area is dominated by Lermakau and Nguselororobi Swamps, filling up with water during the rainy seasons, and then slowly feeding it into Tarangire River during the following dry seasons. The swamps themselves attract mammals and birds during dry seasons. Oliver's Camp, a tented camp that offers special activities such as bush walks and game drives in open vehicles, is situated not far from these areas.

Larger than Masai Mara
For Tanzania, Tarangire is a park of medium size. Compared to Kenya, it's a large park. It is, for example, some 50 % larger than Kenya's prime park Masai Mara, and has much fewer visitors.

Most visitors stay in Tarangire for one night, spending all in all less than a day game driving there. The park is large enough, though, to allow for a few days' interesting game driving and birding. Such a longer visit should be done during the park's best season, preferably in September or October. The game viewing is sometimes lame during the other dry season from December to March, and as those months are the prime season in Serengeti and Ngorongoro, you should spend most of your safari in those parks instead, limiting your visit in Tarangire to the one night.

Some parts of Tarangire are favoured by tsetse flies, which are a nuisance to safari-goers. They are usually not a problem in the northern and most visited parts, though. As they occur locally, you can usually move on and leave the area to get rid of them.

Cattle egret.

Lodges and camps
Tarangire has accommodation in lodges, tented camps and camping sites.

Tarangire Safari Lodge.Tarangire Safari Lodge is a tourist class tented camp situated in the northern part of Tarangire, some 10 km/6 mi south of the park's main entrance. The lodge has 35 tents, 5 bungalows, restaurant, bar, gift shop and swimming pool. It has a good view, overlooking the woodland savanna and the Tarangire River. Animals of all kinds may pass through the camp area at night.

More about Tarangire Safari Lodge

Web site:

Tarangire River Camp.Tarangire River Camp is situated just outside the border of northern Tarangire and is a smallish camp with good standard. The tents are very spacious and have private verandas. The camp offers bush walks escorted by Maasai warriors.

More about Tarangire River Camp

Web site:

Oliver's Camp.Oliver's Camp is a small tented camp offering good standard and great bush feeling. It is situated in eastern Tarangire, and is known for its good guides and interesting safari activities, which include bush walks and game drives in open vehicles.

More about Oliver's Camp

Web site:

Tarangire Sopa Lodge.Tarangire Sopa Lodge is a good lodge in north-eastern Tarangire. It has some 70 spacious rooms, and very spacious public areas such as restaurant, bar, lounge and reception. There is a fairly large swimming pool area.

More about Tarangire Sopa Lodge

Web site:

Tarangire Treetops.Tarangire Treetops is outside eastern Tarangire, a one-hour drive south from the main road from Arusha. It's an exclusive lodge, offering rooms in tree houses, restaurant, bar and swimming pool. A waterhole next to the lodge attracts wildlife, especially during dry seasons.

More about Tarangire Treetops

Web site:

Lake Burunge Tented Camp.Lake Burunge Tented Camp has 16 tented rooms with ensuite bathroom and a private veranda, and a main building with lounge and dining area. It's set in the bush some 30 km/19 mi north-west of Tarangire National Park, overlooking Lake Burunge.

Web site:

Maramboi Tented Camp.Maramboi Tented Camp is situated north of Tarangire, towards Lake Manyara (on the opposite side of the lake from Lake Manyara National Park). There are 20 rooms in tents, a swimming pool and a restaurant.

The camp claims the area to be the best place in East Africa to see migrating herds of wildebeest and zebras, which is not correct. You should go to Serengeti or Masai Mara for that.

Web site:

Swala Tarangire is an exclusive tented camp in south-western Tarangire, far from the other lodges and camps.

Web site:

Kikoti Tented Camp is a small camp outside the north-eastern park border, set in a wildlife area. There are eight tents. The camp offers bush walks and night game drives.

Tamarind Tented Camp is a tourist class tented camp just east of Tarangire's northern tip, some 10 km/6 mi off the main road from Arusha. The camp has ten tents and a restaurant tent.

Boundary Hill Lodge is a new lodge situated in a private conservation area just east of Tarangire National Park. The location allows for activities that are not allowed inside the national park, such as night game drives and bush walks. The lodge has eight rooms, all with ensuite bathroom and private balcony with a view. The lodge is powered by solar panels and wind turbines, and rainwater is collected for use.

Web site:

Naitolia is a small eco-lodge in a private conservation area to the north-east of Tarangire National Park. The lodge is built from local renewable materials, and offers night game drives, bush walks, a treehouse fly-camp and a setting close to the bush.

Web site:

Roika Tarangire Tented Lodge is a lodge of 21 tented rooms, situated outside Tarangire National Park about 5 km/3 mi from the northern main gate. The tents have ensuite bathrooms with showers and bubble bath, and a private wooden veranda. There is a lounge, a business centre and a swimming pool.

Web site:

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Page updated 27 April 2013