The park is located in the eastern branch of the East African Rift Valley and is a short two hour drive away from Arusha town, lying just south of Ngorongoro and the Serengeti. This makes the park an ideal stop for travelers venturing north to complete the Northern Circuit. Travelers who are short on time will either stop here for one day or skip it entirely, meaning that you will find less vehicles whilst venturing down the dirt roads. Tarangire is the 6th largest national park in the country, with a size roughly ten times greater than nearby Lake Manyara.
What sets Tarangire apart from the other parks, other than the hordes of animals flocking here during the dry season, is the distinct landscapes contained within the park. Breathtaking views of the Maasai Steppe and the mountains in the south of the park make a safari at Tarangire a memorable experience. The landscape is composed mainly of granitic ridges, river valleys, and swamps. The vegetation is a combination of Acacia woodland and seasonally flooded grassland, but the highlight feature of the park are the numerous and ancient baobab trees which can be found throughout the land.
The Tarangire river is a perennial river located in Tarangire which terminates at its river mouth south-west on Lake Burunge. The river provides a crucial refuge for a large number of animals.
During the dry season, the river becomes the main source of water for many of the animals in northern Tanzania, who migrate towards this area for several months. During this time, the park features one of the highest densities of wildlife per square kilometer in all of Tanzania.
The park is home to the largest population of elephants in the Northern Circuit. Herds of up to 300 elephants or more can be spotted migrating around these lands and are not as rare a sighting as one might imagine. While many animals will flock here exclusively during the dry season, the elephant and buffalo populations in Taringire are relatively constant.
Tarangire is also famous for it's avifauna, with over 550 bird varieties present at any one time. Ardent bird-lovers should especially keep an eye out for lovebirds, weavers and ashy starlings - all indigenous to these lands. Also present are the kori bustard, the heaviest flying bird, and the stocking-thighed ostritch, the largest flying bird.
The usual suspects are naturally also present here - lion, leopard, cheetah, serval, hyena, zebra all make regular appearances in the park. Also present are the migratory zebra, wildebeest, impala and gazelle, along with several species of antelopes.
Baobab is the common name for each of the nine species of tree in the genus Adansonia. These trees are present throughout the park and range greatly in size, height and age.
There is an old Maasai legend that explains the unique appearance of these trees. The legend goes that once upon a time, the Baobab tree was the most beautiful tree in all the lands. It was however just as vain as it was stunning - it would regularly brag about its beauty to all the other trees. One day, all the other trees banded together to speak with Ngai, the Maasai God, and complain about the narcissistic Baobab. Upon hearing these complaints, the enraged Ngai decided to punish the Baobab by ripping all the trees up into the air, turning them upside down, and planting them back into the ground with their roots exposed.
Best Time to Travel
The best time to explore Tarangire is during the dry season between mid-July and mid-October, as all the animals flock to the Tarangire river which becomes their main source of water for this period. You can expect to see a phenomenal amount of game during this time.
Throughout the rest of the year the game concentration is not as high, but Tarangire is still highly recommended for those wishing to enjoy the open spaces of the African landscapes without interruption.