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Tarangire National Park and its elephant migration

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Tarangire National Park is a jewel in Northern Tanzania. For this author, who used to own a camp in Tarangire, it remains one of the finest parks in East Africa, certainly worthy of much more than just the 2 or 3 days that many visitors allow.

Tarangire is therefore one of our favourite parks, often missed by tourists en route to the Serengeti or Ngorongoro. It has just a handful of places to stay - our particular favourites lying deep within the park. Renowned for its magnificent baobab trees and its extraordinary elephant population, this is a very special park indeed. In fact, it has its own migration which occurs during August and September. The park is also excellent for its leopard population.

In addition, one can walk in Tarangire and fly camp overnight or return to your main lodge or luxury tented camp. This is what sets this park apart from its counterparts elsewhere in northern Tanzania and there is even the chance to take an evening game drive, allowing you to see completely different, nocturnal species.

It is a truly beautiful Tanzanian National Park which is part of the same ecosystem as Lake Manyara, being part of the vast Maasai Steppe which stretches for countless miles to the east of the Rift Valley. Tarangire is the third biggest park in Tanzania although, at about 2,300 sq kms, a lot smaller than the Serengeti.

Tarangire’s real draw comes from the varied scenery and wide-ranging habitat (there are five differing vegetation zones in the park) which offers rolling hills to riverine forest and acacia woodland to frequent, towering, Baobab trees.

Along its eastern boundary are a set of kopjes known by the Masai as Kikoti and which command views of epic proportions. To the west the Rift Valley Escarpment and Ngorongoro Highlands rise above Lake Manyara, to the east are the calving grounds of the Simanjiro Plains. To the northeast Mts. Meru and Kilimanjaro are seen on (clear!) days; Tarangire is not only an excellent Park to include within a northern Tanzanian safari but is also a wonderful location!

One of the key features of the Park is the Tarangire River, the only water source for miles around in the dry season and therefore a great focus for game. The park is particularly known for its numerous herds of elephant which, in the dry seasons, congregate beside the usually dry river’s waterholes and springs which form the only potable water for miles around.

Here one often finds some of the greatest concentrations of wildlife in Tanzania outside of the Serengeti ecosystem and therefore the perfect place to find predators. Big herds of elephant can be found as well as migratory wildebeest, zebra, buffalo, gazelle, hartebeest, eland and oryx.

There is also a swamp where many species of wetland birds congregate, up to 550 bird varieties have been seen here (the most breeding species in one habitat anywhere in the world). In drier parts you may find Kori bustards, ostrich and ground hornbills. Tarangire is also known for its tree climbing lions, leopards and python.

Tarangire has some wonderful places to stay, ranging from a lodge with Treehouse rooms to authentic, semi-mobile safari camps. There are also two permanent safari camps in the mid and southern sectors of the park, both of which are extremely comfortable and which feature walking as part of the repertoire.

A short walking safari in Tarangire is always worthwhile, as one will pick up on so many of the fine nuances of the bush that are usually missed when “just” game viewing from a vehicle.

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