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Tarangire National Park

Bateleur eagle in Tarangire National Park, Tanzania.

Best time to visit: July, August, September

Safaris: An Eco Exploration

Activities: Game Walking, Bird Watching

Accommodation: Oliver's Camp, Adventure Camping, Mobile Camping

Temperatures:
Day: 20-35° C, 68-95° F
Night: 10-20° C, 50-68° F

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 Lake Manyara.

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

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