Acacia woodlands, Swamps, Rolling Hills, Riverine Areas
1,600 square miles
Elephant, Wild Dog, Kudu, Lion, Oryx, Giraffe, Reedbuck, Hyrax, Dik-Dik, Leopard, Buffalo, Python
Tarangire National Park is Tanzania’s fifth-largest park — though if you include the unfenced game-controlled areas that border it, the larger ecosystem is closer to 35,000 sq. km (13,650 sq. miles) — enough to host some migratory movement of herds. Sometimes referred to as a “mini Serengeti,” Tarangire also shares some topographical similarities with its big brother, the most arresting being the short-grass plains you find mostly in the north, their expanses broken only by the shapely “umbrella” acacia tree — a picture-perfect backdrop for game viewing. A striking contrast to these golden plains, and not found in the Serengeti, are Tarangire’s lush green swamps — Gursi, Larmakua, Nguselorobi, and Silale — where elephants stand thigh-high in juicy grasses that act as a magnet for herds of buffalo, wildebeest, and zebra, with predators usually in close attendance. The farther south you travel, the landscape becomes more densely vegetated and game sightings drop accordingly, though there are areas of open savannah, and the tracks are mercifully free of day-trippers.
It’s a beautiful park, typified by century-old baobabs that stand sentinel above the open grass plains and riverbeds, and varied habitats that play home to 94 mammal species, huge numbers of which concentrate around the permanently flowing waters of the Tarangire, particularly during the dry season. In fact, given its dense concentrations of animals — second only to Ngorongoro — there is every chance that you will enjoy a higher incidence of sightings than in the Serengeti; elephants are particularly common, with herds numbering in the hundreds. Tarangire is also an ornithologists’ haven, boasting a greater variety of birds than even Lake Manyara, with upward of 500 species to look out for — many of them, like the kohl-eyed lilac-breasted roller, orange-bellied parrot, and malachite kingfisher, flashing like gems in the undergrowth. Tarangire is a worthwhile addition to any Northern Circuit itinerary, but during the driest months (usually Sept and Oct) — when the Serengeti herds have usually migrated north into Kenya’s Masai Mara and animals from throughout the Tarangire ecosystem slake their thirst in the waters of the Tarangire river — you should make a few days here a priority.
Dry season –June to October
June, July, August, September & October – Afternoon temperatures are close to 26°C/79°F. Days are clear with calm skies. It is possible for the short rains to begin in October. It cools down at night with temperatures dropping to about 14°C/57°F. Occasional cold fronts can lower temperatures to freezing.
Wet season –November to May
As in the Dry season, temperatures are moderate during the Wet season as well. Afternoon temperatures are usually around 28°C/82°F, and night temperatures are around 16°C/61°F.
November & December – ‘Short rains’ – October through December brings about four weeks of rain, the start of which is unpredictable. It will rarely have a negative effect on your trip, as it would be unusual for it to rain all day. Showers normally occur in the afternoon. Daytime temperatures are typically around 29°C/84°F, while night and early mornings hover close to 17°C/63°F.
January & February – A dry spell occurs after the short rains. The beginning of the spell is difficult to predict.
March, April & May – ‘Long rains’ – On most days, rain occurs, although it rarely rains the entire day. Cloudy skies are common. Average daytime temperatures are around 27°C/81°F, and 17°C/63°F at night. Cold fronts commonly roll in during April and May causing temperatures to get much colder.
Size: 2850 sq km (1,096 sq miles).
Location: 118 km (75 miles) southwest of Arusha.
How to get to Tarangire : Easy drive from Arusha or Lake Manyara following a surfaced road to within 7km (four miles) of the main entrance gate; can continue on to Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti. Charter flights from Arusha and the Serengeti.
Game drive for wildlife viewing, Hot air balloon safaris, walking safaris, picnicking, Camping, Lodging, Cultural tourism,Visit neighbouring Ngorongoro Crater, Olduvai Gorge, Ol Doinyo Lengai volcano and Lake Natron’s flamingos.
Guided walking safaris.
Day trips to Maasai and Barabaig villages, as well as to the hundreds of ancient rock paintings in the vicinity of Kolo on the Dodoma Road.