Tarangire National Park is the sixth largest national park in Tanzania, it is located in Manyara Region. The name of the park originates from the Tarangire River that crosses the park. The Tarangire River is the primary source of fresh water for wild animals in the Tarangire Ecosystem during the annual dry season. The Tarangire Ecosystem is defined by the long-distance migration of wildebeest and zebras. During the dry season thousands of animals concentrate in Tarangire National Park from the surrounding wet-season dispersal and calving areas.
Often described as Tanzania’s most underrated national park, Tarangire is one of Africa’s little-known gems and a must for any northern circuit itinerary.Boasting a variety of wildlife as diverse as its landscape, Tarangire is also the park that can boast being home to Tanzania’s largest population of African elephants. With four of the Big Five also residing within the park, it is a great spot for a day trip from Arusha or as an addition to a Serengeti/Ngorongoro centreed itinerary.
Named for the Tarangire River which flows through it, the park is an excellent choice during the dry season when animals are forced to move closer and closer to the river in search of water. Set against a backdrop of majestic baobab trees and twisted acacia, it makes for a beautiful experience. It covers an area of approximately 2,850 square kilometers (1,100 square miles.) The landscape is composed of granitic ridges, river valley, and swamps. Vegetation is a mix of Acacia woodland, Commiphora-Combretum woodland, seasonally flooded grassland, and Baobab tree.
The park is famous for its high density of elephants and baobab trees. Visitors to the park in the June to November dry season can expect to see large herds of thousands of zebra, wildebeest and cape buffalo. Other common resident animals include waterbuck, giraffe, dik dik, impala, eland, Grant's gazelle, vervet monkey, banded mongoose, and olive baboon. Predators in Tarangire include African lion, leopard, cheetah, caracal, honey badger, and African wild dog.
With the exception of the critically endangered black rhinoceros, Tarangire is home to all of Tanzania’s most iconic animals – from the diminutive dik-dik to the towering African elephants and giraffes that attract visitors from all around the world. In addition to these popular animals, the park is also home to three endangered animals that can be found nowhere else in the country: the fringe-eared oryx with its graceful horns, the towering greater kudu, and the tiny Ashy Starling. Tarangire’s claim to fame is its large elephant population the largest in Tanzania. During the dry season, herds of up to 300 elephants can be seen digging in the apparently dry riverbed of the Tarangire River looking for underground streams. Even during the wet season when other inhabitants of the park are able to scatter out across the entirety of the park’s 20,000 square kilometres, elephants remain a common sight thanks to their large numbers.
MigrationBetween June and November of each year, Tarangire National Park plays host to a migration that, while not as impressive as the Serengeti’s legendary Wildebeest Migration, is nonetheless an impressive sight to see. As other sources of water dry up, the Tarangire River becomes the park’s sole source of water and draws huge herds of wildebeest, zebras, gazelles, and hartebeests as well as the lions, leopards, and other predators who prey upon them. During this period, Tarangire offers fascinating wildlife viewing, as its dry landscape makes it easier to spot these large groups of animals on the move.
Birdwatching in TarangireWith its wide variety of habitats and food sources, Tarangire National Park is a popular destination for birds and the people who love to watch them. With more than 550 species of bird the highest number on all of Tanzania Tarangire truly is a birdwatcher’s paradise. The park’s woodlands are home to hoopoes, hornbills, brown parrots, and the white-bellied go away bird as well as game birds such as the helmeted guinea fowl, yellow necked spurfow, and the crested francolin. Other popular inhabitants of the park include yellow-collared lovebirds, lilac breasted rollers, mousebirds, swifts, striped swallows, starlings, bee-eaters, hammerkops, plovers, Kori bustards, bateleur eagles, steppe eagles, and the gigantic lappet-faced vulture. And that’s just naming a few!
Tarangire National Park has wonderful experiences to offer throughout the year. The vast herds of wildlife drawn to the waters of the Tarangire River in the dry season make for outstanding viewing, while the lush grasslands and wildflowers that flourish just after the long rains provide the best opportunity for walking safaris. It is particularly hot during the short rains in November and December.