Tarangire is a small independent and detached national park system in the central plains of Tanzania in Manyara Region of northern Serengeti migration circuit; about 3 hour drive from Ngorongoro crater and 4 hours from Serengeti’s southern entrance of Nabi Hill gate. It is famous for elephants, but there is more to Tarangire than elephants and Tarangire National Park should be part of your East African Safari, here are the reasons why –
1. Low Tourist Density
May be due to lack of advertisement or exposure by popular travel portals, Tarangire is not well recognized among the tourists worldwide, but very well sought by local safari outfitters. When you go for safari drives in Tarangire, you will seldom meet a fellow tourists following your vehicle or you following them. You can calmly observe the animal behavior in their (including yours) personal and private levels, all the time. In Serengeti or Masai Mara, you have to be in a really secluded area to have a one-on-one with big games, while in Ngorongoro, forget about having a solo experience with wild life! NOTE: Although all of these parks have their own unique experiences and all are a MUST.
2. Distinct Flora with Baobab Tree
With lush green meadows even during the dry season and patches of yellow savanna grass lands makes it extremely picturesque across the rolling hills and Tarangire River. To top it all up, this is where in mainland Africa the Baobab trees start appearing, the ones that Madagascar is famous for. These are trees with humongous trunks and are centuries old. The pastoralist tribesman take shelter inside the hollows of these trees, even today, when their cattle go out grazing for an afternoon torpor or during heavy monsoon rain.
3. More Different cultures and tribes of Tanzania to experience
On the way to Tarangire and inside, we experienced interactions with some of the people belonging to the following tribes – Gorowa, Kw’adza, Mbugwe, Datooga, Maasai and Barabaig, including the Hadzabe people, the foraging people (hunter gathers) of Lake Eyisi. Each tribe had it’s own uniqueness and it was wonderful to experience.
4. Ample, diverse and easy to find big games
As Tarangire is a semi detached park from the main Serengeti NP, therefore the abundance and interaction of the prey and the predator is higher; we saw more chases in Tarangire than in the Serengeti or Masai Mara combined, it may be due to our luck or due to actual density of fauna or its seclusion. In the Serengeti, you have to be at the right part of the park by season and you often rely on bush radio to find big game chase sightings, but not in Tarangire, as you will find games on your own (and there is a different thrill to it).
Another peculiar aspect of Tarangire that we noticed at numerous occasions was – we found completely two different non-symbiotic species of animal moving together – Baboons with Elephants, Giraffes along with Zebras, etc. Usually one proceeds or succeeds the other by their primordial instincts, but not here. It is common all across the African savanna to find zebras, wildebeest and baboons together, but hardly this distinct combination of species together I had seen before!.
Also, this was the only park where we saw African Wild Dogs and we saw it in a pack of 13 total. Tarangire is also famous for grant’s gazelle and lesser kudu (that are unique to this region).
5. Huge elephant population
If you love Elephants then this is your park, they are in abundance and they are beautiful, always roaming in herds across the grasslands and swamps of Tarangire river.
6. Close proximity to Lake Eyisi and Lake Manyara
If either of these two lakes are in your itinerary, then you must ask your travel agent to include Tarangire, at least for a day, or, you should include either of these two lakes (depending on the season) inside your itinerary if you are visiting Tarangire National Park.