| 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Lodges and camps
Tarangire has accommodation in lodges,
tented camps and camping
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.
about Tarangire Safari Lodge
Web site: www.tarangiresafarilodge.com
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
More about Tarangire River Camp
Web site: www.mbalimbali.com
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
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.
about Tarangire Sopa Lodge
Web site: www.sopalodges.com
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
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: www.tanganyikawildernesscamps.com
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: www.tanganyikawildernesscamps.com
Swala Tarangire is an exclusive tented camp in south-western
Tarangire, far from the other lodges and camps.
Web site: www.swala.com
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.
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
Web site: www.tarangireconservation.com
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: www.tarangireconservation.com
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: www.tarangireroikatentedlodge.com