Tarangire National Park is a spectacular little park in northern Tanzania. The park is named for the river that runs through it. This river provides the local wildlife the water they need to survive. The Serengeti usually nabs the limelight as a top safari destination, but here are five reasons you should consider including Tarangire in your next safari.
Proximity to Arusha
Arusha is the safari capital of Tanzania, as most Northern Circuit safaris begin there. Tarangire National Park is about a 3-hour drive on a paved road from Arusha. This close proximity allows groups to drive down and back in just one day to visit the park. Better yet, stay one night and drive back the following day with a stop for lunch and a visit to some local markets along the way.
The road leading up to the park is also an attraction as it is lined with bomas where the local Masai live and tend to their herds. A visit to a boma can be arranged with your tour guide to learn about how the Masai live in the area.
Tarangire rivals the Serengeti with its diverse landscape in a small area. (The park is only about 2900 sq. km.) There are heavily wooded areas spotted with the trademark baobab trees, as well as an abundance of abandoned termite mounds.
There is an open plain area known as Small Serengeti, where you may find the cheetah hiding in the tall grasses. The rest of the park is rolling hills with scenic vistas over looking the water sources where the animals can be found congregating.
Plenty of resident wildlife
Tarangire is known for its abundance of elephants! The park is used as an elephant refuge. Elephant lovers can find upwards of 2500 elephants in the park. Additionally, the park is home to resident wildebeest, zebra, giraffes, leopards, lions, buffalo, warthogs and delightful Vervet monkeys.
The dry season is the best time to visit the park as the animals tend to gather at the limited watering areas as the others dry up throughout the season. For the birding enthusiasts there is a great selection of birds, from tiny lovebirds to large horn bills and tawny eagles.
Generally, Tarangire is far less crowded than nearby Lake Manyara National Park. Unlike Lake Manyara, you are far less-likely to encounter a long wait at the registration desk or to battle crowds of vehicles fighting for position to give their passengers the best vantage point for gawking at one leopard in a tree.
Because of the smaller number of vehicles around, the park has a much more laid back feel to it. Visitors tend to find their days in the park to be much more relaxing and enjoyable than other parks.
Less expensive than Ngorongoro or Serengeti
If your time and money are limited or you are planning a budget safari, Tarangire is a must-visit. The daily entrance fee is much less than a day in Ngorongoro Crater or the Serengeti. There are also plenty of lodging options inside the park for you to choose from. The accommodations range from public tent sites to moderate lodges to luxury tented camps. We recently stayed at Tarangire Safari Lodge, which offered budget tents as well as moderately priced bungalows. The terrace at the lodge offered outstanding views overlooking the river. This location is known to have elephants walk right through the tented areas. Certainly a thrill for any traveler!
The ease-of-access, diverse wildlife and landscape, and the relaxing atmosphere make Tarangire National Park is a must-see park when visiting Northern Tanzania.
Javier Luque is a Co-Founder and Director of Your African Safari.
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