The most accessible but least visited of the northern circuit parks, Tarangire National Park has a wild and rugged feel. With low visitor numbers, thick grasses, giant baobab trees and a vast elephant population, it is a wonderful place to experience the excitement of a game drive and feel the rhythms of the unspoiled African wilderness.
Tarangire National Park covers an area of 2,850 square kilometres and is worth a visit for its enormous elephant population alone; it’s not uncommon to see several hundred in a single day. Yet while many come for the elephants, we think that’s selling Tarangire short, as both the wildlife and scenery deserve to be savoured. Sightings of lion and leopard are common; both cats sustained by the large variety of herbivores, including zebra, wildebeest, buffalo, impala and giraffe.
In fact, during the dry season Tarangire is reported to have one of the highest concentrations of wildlife in any national park in Tanzania, second only to the Serengeti, as game flocks towards the Tarangire River and surrounding swamps for some much-needed hydration. Birders are also in for a treat with over 500 species on record here, including some which are endemic to East Africa, such as the ashy starling and yellow-collared lovebird. Many of the birds can be found around the Silal Swamps, an area that also attracts large numbers of wildlife during the dry summers and giant pythons all year round.
The landscape here is wonderfully distinct, full of grassy savannah plains, vast swamplands, large swathes of acacia forest and sun-dried termite mounds. But the stars of the show are the huge sculptural stands of baobab trees, some of which are though to be over 3,000 years old. Trunk circumferences can measure up to 10 metres and many are marked by the elephants who sharpen their tusks on the bark, as well as chewing on it during the dry season to provide extra hydration.
Located just a two-hour drive from Arusha, Tarangire is the most accessible park on the northern circuit, but despite this it is often overlooked in favour of its better-known neighbours. But for those looking for a more remote, wilder side of Africa, with few other visitors, a safari in the southern half of the park, could be for you. We would also recommend this part of the park to those looking to do a walking safari, with many of the camps in this area taking guests out on foot for a particularly exclusive wilderness experience.