Water is essential to life. During the hot summer months this simple truth gives Tarangire National Park the highest concentration of game outside of the Serengeti ecosystem. The Tarangire River is the only source of water in the dry season from June to September and attracts enormous numbers of animals from the surrounding areas. As the ground dries and the river shrinks an incredible diversity of African wildlife congregates around the scarce water supplies. When the rain sets in the animals start migrating again in search of new pastures.
Southeast of the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Tarangire’s landscape is dotted with tall baobab trees and termite mounds. After the rains in April and November wildflowers push up between the grass.
Tarangire National Park is famous for its large herds of elephant. During the dry season up to 300 specimens congregate at the Tarangire River. The permanent water source also attracts migratory wildebeest, zebra, gazelle, impala, hartebeest, buffalo, eland and hartebeest. Tarangire is also one of the few places in Eastern Africa, where you can see the statuesque Oryx. The lions of Tarangire are well known for their unusual behaviour of climbing trees. Leopard and cheetah complete the trio of big cats. A non-mammalian predator found in Tarangire’s trees is the python, while the comical dwarf mongooses inhabit the deserted termite mounds.
The bird count is at an impressive 550 species and Tarangire is the habitat with the largest number of breeding species in the world. Favourites are the endemic yellow-coloured lovebird, rufous-tailed weaver and the ashy starling. Red-and-yellow barbets share abandoned termite mounds with the dwarf mongoose and the ground is home to the kori bustard, hornbills and the flightless ostrich.
Game drives especially during the dry season are incredibly rewarding as the wildlife is cluttered around the Tarangire River. Even during the rainy season the park offers good game viewing and many species breed in the park during this time. Birders should aim for the rainy season starting in November.
Tarangire National Park is also a popular venue for walking safaris. Viewing big game on foot is a memorable and exciting experience. However, walking safaris are also very educational as the guides get a chance to introduce guests to the finer elements of the ecosystem. Walking safaris are most interesting when the wildflowers blossom after the rains.