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Tarangire National Park

Size

2,850 km2 (1,100 mi2)

Founded

1970 (National Park)

Best time to visit

June to early November

Classic safaris close to Arusha

Tarangire is one of the most scenic parks on Tanzania’s northern circuit and makes for classic safari adventures close to Arusha. See large herds of elephants, towering Baobab trees and the Tarangire River on your safari. Spend two nights here to explore the more remote sections of the park.

View of Tarangire National Park

Tarangire National Park: The park that has it all

A large herd of buffaloes make their way to the shallow waters of the Tarangire River as elephants scratch their backs on the iconic Baobab trees and a lioness stretches sitting on an Acacia tree, letting her gaze wander across the swamps. Diverse and scenic landscapes, a high density of wildlife, yet still one of the lesser-known national parks in Tanzania – that’s Tarangire National Park.

Tarangire is conveniently situated along the way to the more famous Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater. But it is a popular park and excellent safari destination in its own right – and so much more than just a stopover to break up the journey!

The vegetation within the park is extremely diversified and includes open grasslands, savannah, Baobab trees and thick acacia bush as well as palm trees and swamps full of tall elephant grass in the south.

 

What to expect

Most visitors enter from the north and spend an afternoon exploring the area around the Tarangire River, the lifeline and main source of drinking water in the park. Elephants, buffaloes, antelopes, and zebras greet travellers and offer a classic safari experience.

To those who stay more than just one night, Tarangire invites you to the more remote Southern section of the park: The Silale Swamp is one of the main features here, stretching across 70 square kilometres (3,044 square miles). It is not only a favourite for elephants, munching on the lush greens, but also big cats. With a bit of luck, you can observe tree-climbing lions on a Tarangire safari, snoozing in the cool shade while keeping a close eye on antelopes and zebras trot by.

A few selected accommodations in the Southern section of the park even offer walking safaris. An exciting activity, exploring the home of the wild on foot. Walking safaris are permitted only in a few specific areas in Tanzania’s national parks.

 

Which animals can you see in Tarangire National Park?

Tarangire National Park has a healthy population of creatures both big and small. The park has plenty of resident animals although some tend to migrate depending on the time of year. The most commonly seen animals on a Tarangire safari are elephants, giraffes, impalas, warthogs, zebras, wildebeests, dwarf mongoose and ostriches. However, lions can also be seen, as well as leopards and on some rare occasions even wild hunting dogs have been spotted. The park is also home to 550 species of birds, the greater and lesser Kudus as well as oryx antelopes.

During the months of June to September the park witnesses a small migration during which thousands of wildebeests and zebras head to the park for better grazing grounds. Elephants and other animals follow suit to gather along the Tarangire River, the only permanent water source in the park. It has been claimed, that up to 2000 elephants reside in the park during these months with some coming as far as from Amboseli National Park in Kenya.

 

Predators

Cats are also very much present in the park and lions can be found soaking up the sun on the riverbanks, whereas leopards are sometimes spotted resting in the baobab trees. Cheetahs are around but usually like to stay hidden from unsuspecting prey.

African wild dogs have been seen towards the southern part of the park and seeing that the numbers of these efficient hunters are dropping, spotting them can be a real treat.

 

Birds

But it is not only mammals you need to look out for while in Tarangire National Park as the park also boasts with 550 different bird species. The most commonly seen birds include yellow collared lovebirds, red billed hornbills, southern ground hornbills, lilac breasted rollers, ostriches, many kinds of raptors as well as several kinds of water birds just to name a few.

 

Vegetation and landscapes

Tarangire National Park with its baobab crested landscape is scenically one of the most beautiful parks in Tanzania. Baobab trees tower above the savannah. These age-old trees play a vital role in the ecosystem as they act as homes for bees, birds and bats. In addition, they provide nourishing fruit and supply animals such elephants with indirect water especially during the drier months.

Until the mid-1990s, one of these ancient trees was used as hiding place by illegal poachers. The hollow inside of the giant tree served as the perfect cover from rangers on patrol. Once inside, they were nowhere to be seen. Here, they would dry and store illegally hunted wildebeest, buffalo and zebra meat. Luckily, the rangers eventually put an end to their illegal activities. Today, you can visit the Poachers Hide and step inside the Baobab tree.

 

Tarangire River

The Tarangire River flows all year round and is an important lifeline for many of its residents, especially during the dry season. The river flows into Lake Burunge situated in the northwest. On the other hand, the south of the park is dominated by marsh land, which is impassable in the wet season but tends to dry out completely in the dry season.

Tarangire National Park map location
baobab tree

Baobab Trees

The Tree of Life is a source of food and water for many animals in the park. Travellers relish in the Baobab’s iconic beauty and mystical aura.

elephant

Elephant Herds

Tarangire is one of the best places in Tanzania and arguably all of Africa to see elephants. They crisscross the park in large herds.

swamp

Silale Swamps

A magnet for elephants, big cats, and other wildlife large and small – the Silale swamp in the Southern section. You should stay two nights in Tarangire to fully enjoy this area.

Baobab tree and Tarangire River

Tarangire is known for its beautiful landscape and scenery.

Elephant herd in savannah

Large herds of elephants crisscross the national park.

Lions resting in shade

You have good chances of spotting lions in Tarangire National Park.

Wildlife in Silale Swamps in Tarangire National Park

If you stay two nights, you can visit Silale Swamps in the southern section of Tarangire.

Giraffes drinking from Tarangire River

The Tarangire River is a year-round water source which makes it a good place to spot wildlife.

WHEN TO GO

Best time to go to Tarangire National Park

Tarangire looks distinctly different in the rainy and in the dry season. During the rainy season the grass is tall, the river is flowing, and the vegetation is fresh; wildlife disperse throughout the park as there are many sources of water to sustain them. This, coupled with dense vegetation, means wildlife sightings are not always easy, but bird lovers will enjoy the sight of many migratory birds in the park. The peak of the rainy season is usually between March and May.

The best time to visit Tarangire National Park is arguably the dry season between June to October and early November. Wildlife density is high since many animals from surrounding areas migrate to the area’s main water source, the Tarangire River. Scarce vegetation means, wildlife can easily be spotted. As a general rule of thumb, rates are lower in the rainy season and availability at accommodations may be a challenge for short-notice bookings during the dry season.

dry season

Dry Season

June to early November & December to February

Best for wildlife sightings along Tarangire River, high wildlife density.

rainy season

Green Season

March to May & November

Best for migratory bird watching, but other wildlife is more difficult to spot.

Why to go

See elephants drinking sand

Tarangire River carries water year-round, but during the peak of the dry season some stretches of the river run dry. During this time, you can witness a fascinating sight: Elephants can smell water from many kilometres away. They dig a hole into what looks to us a dry riverbed using their trunk. Elephants can extract water from below the surface to quench their thirst. An added benefit: Once the elephants are done, other animals approach and use these small wells as water source.

Elephants drinking from dried out river
Feedback Tarangire elephants
Even more compliments go to our guide, Alpha. He was absolutely great. He really made the experience a lot of fun and was very attentive to everything we asked. He was really easy going and had a great sense of humor. He was also very well informed about the parks, the animals and also about history. This really allowed us to have great conversations with him during our stay. (…) All in all we have had a great time and were very happy to have decided to trust Tanzania-Experience for our Safari part of the trip.
Elis & Wybe | Netherlands

Experience the Tarangire National Park

Classic game drive vehicle
Classic game drives

Enjoy wildlife sightings from the popup roof of your safari vehicle.

Mobile Explorer Camp im Tarangire
Mobile Explorer Camp

Experience complete remoteness on private campsites.

Bush walks in Tarangire National Park
Bush walks

Select camps in the southern section offer bush walks in Tarangire.

Things to do

Reconnect with nature on these safari activities

Tarangire offers classic safari game drives in 4×4 vehicles surrounded by Tanzania’s wildlife. Selected camps even offer walking safaris; on private campsites you can enjoy a luxurious camping experience in our Mobile Explorer Camp.

  • Classic game drives in beautiful scenery
  • Mobile Explorer Camping on private campsites
  • Walking safaris in the Southern area of the park
Elephant herd under acacia tree
Elephants

One of the best places in Tanzania to see large herds.

buffalo herd in Tarangire River
Buffaloes

This member of the Big Five roams Tarangire National Park in herds and as small group of bachelors.

Tree climbing lion Tarangire National Park
Lions

With a bit of luck you can spot lions climbing trees, especially in the area around Silale Swamp in the South.

Eland antelope in Tarangire Tanzania
Eland

Elands are the largest antelopes in Africa. A male antelope can weigh more than 900kg.

Bobab tree at sunset
Baobab Trees

One of the most iconic trees on the continent. Baobabs are a source of food as well as water for many animals.

WILDLIFE AND PLANT LIFE IN TARANGIRE NATIONAL PARK

Diverse fauna and flora

Tarangire is one of the most diverse national parks in Tanzania. Its vegetation ranging from open grassland and savannah to acacia, palm trees and baobabs as well as swamps and marsh land support a myriad of different wildlife species.

WHERE TO STAY ON A TARANGIRE SAFARI

Oliver's Camp

Oliver’s Camp

Ang'ata Tarangire Camp

Ang’ata Tarangire Camp

Maramboi Tented Lodge

Maramboi Tented Lodge

Baobab Camp Tarangire

Baobab Tented Camp

Chem Chem Lodge

Chem Chem Lodge

Honeyguide Tarangire

Honeyguide Tarangire

Kuro Tarangire Camp

Kuro Safari Camp

Mbali Mbali Tarangire River Camp

Mbali Mbali Tarangire River Camp

Nasikia Ndovu Camp

Nasikia Tarangire Ndovu Tented Lodge

Nimali Tarangire Camp

Nimali Tarangire Camp

Nyikani Tarangire Camp

Nyikani Tarangire Camp

Sanctuary Swala

Sanctuary Swala Camp

Tarangire Safari Lodge

Tarangire Safari Lodge

Tarangire Simba Lodge

Tarangire Simba Lodge

Elewana Treetops

Tarangire Treetops

Location

Tarangire National Park is part of the Northern Circuit, the main safari route in Tanzania. It is only about 120km (75 miles) from Arusha which makes it a popular stop for day trips as well as first stop on longer safaris. Most travellers enter through the Main Gate in the north; you can also enter through the Sangaiwe or Boundary Hill gates. From Tarangire you can continue your journey via Lake Manyara to the Ngorongoro Crater and into the Serengeti.

Lion paws closeup
Arno Snellenberg Tanzania Travel Expert
Tanzania-Experience safari vehicle

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