Tarangire National Park
Although this lovely 2600 square km(1004-square mile) park is an easy drive from Arusha it continued to be something of a well kept secret . Named for the life-giving Tarangire River that flows through its core, this is Tanzania’s fifth largest park. Most famous for giant baobab trees towering the heard of elephant, this park hosts an annual “mini-migration” of sorts and offers the perfect setting for photography. During the dry season, huge masses of animals stream into the park for its perennial water supply.
The river provides refuge for the largest elephant population in North Tanzania. The park is named after this life-giving river that provides the only permanent water for wildlife. During the dry season,it’s part of of the migratory movement and is second only to Ngorongoro Crater in concentration of wildlife. A menagerie of different shapes and sizes of animals are lured to the enticing waters. Long columns of elephant, wildebeest, zebra, buffalo and gazelle file in great numbers to the receding banks of the river. Witness the drama of the heard elephant chasing the lions who wait for their favoured prey to come down to drink from Tarangire river..
Matete boasts superb leopard viewing and a chance to see the rare oryx antelope. This region gets its name from the high elephant grass and spiky reeds that grow on the river banks on the western side of the region. Matete is the best location in the park for consistent leopard sightings. These elusive cats are frequently spotted in the branches of acacia tortillas trees. The exquisite antelope called the oryx also inhabits the Matete area, although the numbers of these antelope have now dwindled to low numbers.
Lemiyon features massive baobab trees and vast flocks of red-billed quelea birds. This pristine area is tucked in the northernmost end of the park and forms a triangular shaped zone. The most striking form of vegetation here are the impressive baobab trees that loom alongside the road with their colossal silvered trunks and mass of gnarled branches. Lemiyon offers especially good raptor viewing and even the non-birding enthusiast will be astounded by the abundance of these powerful airborne predators.
The remote Silale Swamp is one of the top highlights of the Tarangire ecosystem. The swamp acts as a giant sponge during the green season and slowly releases water during the dry season. Huge masses of herbivores stream into the park for its water supply, which in turn attracts lions, leopards and wild dogs. Even the great rock python can be seen living alongside the swamp. These thick, massive reptiles often stay stationary for months at a time – giving visitors the perfect opportunity to observe them.
The game loops of the Burungi Circuit offer a superb off the beaten path experience. This adventurous and remote game loop is approximately 50 miles long and traverses the western boundary of the park. A strikingly beautiful and unusual looking little antelope often hides in the thick bush that blankets this area called the Lesser Kudu. It is also quite possible to see Africa’s largest antelope, the eland, along the Burungi Circuit. Elands are massive animals weighing up to 2,000 pounds.
The beautiful Kitibong region is home to large buffalo herds and the rare wild dog. Magnificent herds of thickly-set buffalo, tossing their heavily bossed horns, teem through these acacia parklands in the Kitibong region. African Hunting dogs are also seen in this area. These interesting looking dogs have a mottled arrangement of different colored fur that cover their bodies like a tie dye T-shirt. These dogs run in packs of 6 to 20 animals and are efficient, determined hunters.