The Tarangire National Park is a beautiful gem of nature in Tanzania, known for its diverse wildlife and lush vegetation. Life in the park revolves around the Tarangire River, which flows from South to North and provides a permanent source of water, even during the dry season.
The name of the river comes from the combination of two words: “Tara” in Mbugwe language means “river” or “snaking,” while “Ngire” in Hadzabe language means “warthog.” The park is home to many warthogs, which are a common sight in the area.
Nestled between the meadows of Masai Steppe to the southeast and the lakes of the Great Rift Valley to the north and west, this park is home to a diverse range of wildlife, from elephants and lions to rare antelope and exotic bird species.
Tarangire National Park is an important wildlife sanctuary in Tanzania. It is home to some of the most unique and diverse wildlife species in the world. The park is located in the Manyara region and is named after the Tarangire River. The river is a major source of water for the park and is an important attraction for visitors. The park is known for its huge and ancient baobab trees, some of which have lived for more than a thousand years. These trees have an unmistakable silhouette and are a distinctive feature of the Tarangire National Park.
There are several tracks within the park where visitors can go on walking safaris to discover the beauty of the park. The Northern area of the park, where the main entrance is located, features a flat landscape that gradually turns into wavy, rolling hills covered with thick vegetation during the green season.
As you arrive from the North entrance, you will encounter the Lemiyon Route, which runs through much of the Northern part of the park. Along this road, you will find the Tanapa Rangers’ headquarters, the airstrip, and some licensed camps.
Within the northern part of Tarangire is the permanent River Tarangire, also known as the lifeline of the park, particularly in the dry season when most of the region is totally dry. This flows northwards until it exits the park in the northwestern corner to pour into Lake Burungi.
The Baobab Trees of Tarangire
The park is known for its huge and ancient baobab trees, some of which have lived for more than a thousand years. These trees have an unmistakable silhouette and are a distinctive feature of the Tarangire National Park. The park is the only one in Northern Tanzania that houses these giants.
The most famous baobab tree in the Tarangire National Park is known as “the Poacher’s Hideout Tree” because it was used by poachers as a hiding and lookout place in the past. The trunk is big enough to accommodate six people lying down inside.
Baobab trees are essential to the park’s ecosystem. Elephants use them as a water reservoir during droughts, as the hollow trunk can hold several gallons of water. It is also not uncommon to see elephants ripping the bark off the trees to feed on it.
Humans also use baobab trees for various purposes. The seed shells can be used as water containers, the leaves and fruit pulp can be used for medicinal purposes, and the bark can be used to make rope, paper, and fabric.
Walking Safaris in Tarangire National Park
There are several tracks within the park where visitors can go on walking safaris to discover the beauty of the park. Walking safaris are a great way to get closer to nature and observe the wildlife in their natural habitat. The Lemiyon Route in Tarangire National Park splits into two paths when heading southwards: the Burungi Lake Route to the west and the Matete Route to the east.
The Lemiyon Route
The Lemiyon Route in Tarangire National Park splits into two paths when heading southwards: the Burungi Lake Route to the west and the Matete Route to the east.
The Burungi Lake Route
The Burungi Lake Route is a delightful 80-kilometer path through combretum and acacia woods, where one can occasionally spot a leopard. Along the way, you can take in beautiful views of Burungi Lake, Manyara Lake, and the Milima Mitatu peaks, also known as “the three hills.”
It’s worth taking a detour to the Burungi Lake on the western border of the park. During the dry season, the lake dries up completely, leaving behind an expanse of sparkling salt crystals on the dry seabed.
The Matete Route
The Matete Route takes its name from the cane fields and tall elephant grass that grow along the banks of the Tarangire River. This route is one of the best areas in the park for spotting not only herbivorous and carnivorous animals but also many species of birds.
In addition to the Tarangire River, the central area of the park boasts the Silale Swamps, a beautiful area where many animals can be spotted. During the dry season, the swamps partly dry up, and the animals gather around the remaining waterholes. Many bird species can also be seen here.
Some tracks may become impassable during the green season due to the marshy ground.
In the western part of the park, you can take the Kitibong Hill Route, which runs around the Kitibong Hills through combretum and acacia woods. Pointing south, you can reach the Gursi alluvial plain, where buffalos and elephants can often be seen.
The southern part of the park is wild and unspoiled but difficult to reach and therefore sees less traffic. The landscape here is mostly flat with grasslands and swamps. The Gursi Route and the Lamarkau Route, which both cross the grasslands and are home to many plain species such as ostriches, are the main routes in this area. During the green season, part of these lands transforms into wetlands, where you can spot hippos.
There are a number of wide swamps which dry into green plains during the dry season in the south.
The southernmost part of Tarangire National Park is divided into two areas: Mkungunero to the southwest and Nguselororobi to the east, where several freshwater springs attract many animal species, including cheetahs.
Discovering Tarangire’s Wildlife
One of the main reasons to visit Tarangire National Park is to experience the incredible wildlife that calls this place home. The park is known for its large elephant herds, which can often be seen wandering through the grasslands or drinking from the Tarangire River. Other animals that you might spot during your visit include lions, leopards, cheetahs, giraffes, zebras, and buffalo. If you’re lucky, you might even see some of the rarer species that inhabit the park, such as the fringe-eared oryx or the lesser kudu.
Exploring Tarangire’s Landscapes
Aside from its incredible wildlife, Tarangire National Park is also known for its beautiful landscapes. The park is home to a variety of different habitats, including grasslands, woodlands, and wetlands. In the north, you’ll find the Tarangire River, which is surrounded by dense vegetation and provides a source of water for the park’s animals. To the south, the park’s wide swamps dry into green plains during the dry season, providing a stark contrast to the rest of the park’s landscapes.
Q1. What is Tarangire National Park known for? A1. Tarangire National Park is known for its diverse wildlife, lush vegetation, and ancient baobab trees.
Q2. What is the significance of Tarangire River? A2. Tarangire River flows from South to North and provides a permanent source of water, even during the dry season, making it the lifeline of the park’s ecosystem.
Q3. What is the Lemiyon Route in Tarangire National Park? A3. The Lemiyon Route is a road that runs through much of the Northern part of the park and includes the Tanapa rangers’ headquarters, the airstrip, and some licensed camps.
Q4. What are baobab trees, and why are they essential to the park’s ecosystem? A4. Baobab trees are ancient trees with a distinctive silhouette that can hold several gallons of water in their hollow trunks. Elephants use them as a water reservoir during droughts, and humans use them for various purposes such as making rope, paper, and fabric.
Q5. What are some of the routes visitors can take in Tarangire National Park? A5. Visitors can take several routes in Tarangire National Park, including the Lemiyon Route, Burungi Lake Route, Matete Route, Kitibong Hill Route, Gursi Route, and Lamarkau Route. These routes offer diverse landscapes and opportunities to spot a variety of wildlife and bird species.