The seasonal Tarangire National Park covers 2,850 km² of area in northern Tanzania. It is the 6th largest National Park in Tanzania, and offers some unrivalled elephant sightings – indeed, it is estimated that the Park is home to the largest elephant population in northern Tanzania – approximately 2,500 – and these numbers are rapidly increasing by an estimated 6% per year. Some elephant herds can be as large as 600 strong.
The Park takes its name from the Tarangire River that crosses through the Park, and which is the lifeblood for the wildlife that flock here during the dry season months (June to September), making these months splendid for game viewing. Huge herds of antelope, zebra, buffalo and wildebeest amass along the river banks and graze on the Park’s fertile plains.
When the short rains begin in November and December, the Park begins to sprout tender green shoots. The animals take full advantage of this, with many giving birth during the months of January through to March so that the young calves can get their nourishment from the now abundant supply of vegetation.
In April, the long rains begin, and many of the grazing herds, now with their healthy young calves, migrate out of the Park towards Lake Manyara or further northwards, where there is greater choice of grazing land and water – only to return en-masse to the Tarangire River a few months later when their new-found water supplies begin to dry up.
Not all the wildlife migrates away, however. Giraffe, waterbuck, impala, warthog, kudu, dik dik, pods of hippo and troops of baboons and vervet monkeys, and of course the elephants, all remain, along with the resident lion, spotted hyena, cheetah and leopard – and last but not least, the tree-climbing pythons. For birders, this is a true paradise – over 500 bird species have been recorded in Tarangire, including Kori bustards, storks, ostrich, sacred ibis, yellow-collared lovebirds, and colourful kingfishers, rollers and woodpeckers.
Many safari-goers choose Tarangire as a one or 2 night trip addition to their trip on their way to or from the Serengeti or Ngorongoro Crater, especially during the dry season months.