An easy drive from Arusha, Tarangire is well worth a visit on its own merits,
or as part of a safari circuit including the Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater and
Not only does Tarangire enjoy a year round water supply, but the wildlife also
enjoys the protection of the tsetse fly. A blessing in disguise, the wildlife
is resistant to the sleeping sickness carried by this insect, but human's cattle
and goats are not. Thus this large area of rangeland has been left undisturbed
by man and the wildlife has flourished.
The Tarangire National Park is named for the Tarangire River, which flows through
the 2,600 square km park, providing a brackish but constant supply of water, even
in the height of the long dry season (June-October). Wildlife comes from as far
as northern Lake Natron; the water pools are surrounded by herds of wildebeest,
zebra, eland, elephant, hartebeest, buffalo and fringe-eared Oryx, often matching
the animal concentrations of the more famous Serengeti.
The animals share the water with an abundant and remarkably diverse bird population,
such as Fischer's lovebirds, green wood hoopoes, go-away birds, hornbills, kingfishers
and cuckoos. In fact, Tarangire boasts the highest recorded number of bird breeding
species for any habitat in the world!
In the northern part of the park, undulating yellow-brown hills fill the horizon,
with giant, baobab trees in profusion. The hills slowly give way to open grasslands,
flat topped acacia trees and thick, 'black cotton' soil that cracks into deep
ravines in the dry season. Baboon, hyena, lion, leopard and warthogs are abundant.
The grasslands turn into woodlands, which then open out into the Larmakau area
of swampy grasslands, the Tarangire River's floodplain. Tinged by shades of green
even in the height of the drought, this lush area is home to famous tree climbing
pythons, indolent hippos wallowing in the mud, buffalo, giraffe, wild dogs, kori
bustard and ostrich.
In the southern reaches of the park, the swamp slowly dries, leaving only
scattered pools of glittering water on the open plains. Surrounded by flocks of
crowned cranes, Egyptian geese, storks and hammerkops, these pools are the tiny
green oases in the midst of an endless plain of waving brown grass.
History shows that the water supply was also a draw to man, if not his cattle;
a visit to the Barabaig tribe's ancient Kolo rock paintings is an excellent
introduction to Tarangire's ancient culture.
Copyright Melinda Rees of Eco-resorts