Tarangire National Park
Located slightly off the main safari route, Tarangire National Park is a lovely, quiet park in Northern Tanzania. It is most famous for its elephant migration, birding and authentic safari atmosphere. The majority of travelers to the region either miss out Tarangire altogether or venture into the park for a matter of hours – leaving swathes of Tarangire virtually untouched!
With a game viewing area that is roughly ten times the size of nearby Manyara NP and a concentration of game that is exceptional from July through to October, this seasonal Tanzania safari park is a little gem on the Northern safari circuit, especially if you love elephants!
Tarangire is the surprise package on the Northern circuit. Often overshadowed by the Serengeti and the Ngorongoro Crater, Tarangire has huge concentrations of animals in the peak months and a fraction of the visitor numbers of any of the other Northern parks. From July through to October safaris here are superb, and the atmosphere and habitats are completely different from other parks. Tarangire is surprisingly large, giving visitors the quietest game viewing environment of all the parks in the region. The South of Tarangire is especially quiet, and lodges such as Swala and Oliver’s Camp are the perfect place to explore this remote area, and to really get away from any other travelers. Overall, a superb little park that offers great value compared to its neighbors and a seriously good option for getting away from it all.
Tarangire National Park safari – The Wildlife
During the dry months the concentration of animals around the Tarangire river is almost as diverse and reliable as in the Ngorongoro Crater. However, the ecosystem here is balanced by a localized migration pattern that is followed by the majority of game that resides in and around the park. As a result, Tarangire is superb in season but questionable the rest of the year. Elephants are the main attraction, with up to 3,000 in the park during the peak months. Peak season also sees good numbers of wildebeest and zebra as well as giraffe, buffalo, Thompson’s gazelle, greater and lesser kudu, eland, leopard and cheetah. The real prizes in the park are dwarf mongoose, oryx and generuk – but viewings are very rare. Tarangire is one of Tanzania’s finest birding destinations.
About Tarangire National Park – Activities
The Tarangire safaris are the main activity, however, staying outside the park makes walking and night safari a possibility. There are no boat safaris on the rivers here but Oliver’s Camp offers adventurous fly camping trips and very good walking safaris. Both Oliver’s Camp and Swala have recently started night safaris within the park itself. Ask us for more information as the regulations here seem to change every year!
Are night drives allowed in Tarangire?
Night drives are allowed in Tarangire. Some lodges don’t offer it though due to not having set it up with TANAPA. Also, if your particular lodge is outside the National Park then it will not offer night drives. It is worth checking whether the lodge you are looking at offers it or not before booking if this is something on your hit list!
Tarangire – When to go
The game viewing from July though to October is exceptional but for the remainder of the year the majority of game migrates out of the park, onto the floor of the Rift Valley and to the grazing grounds of the Masai steppe. As a result, we would advise visitors not to expect high concentrations of game in the off season months, but would still recommend travelling here to those who want to avoid the crowds.
Tarangire Safari Lodges – Accommodation
There are many lodges that surround the border of Tarangire but we have always believed that staying in the park itself is the right choice.
Swala and Oliver’s Camp are the top end choices in the park. One of our absolute favorite authentic options though is Kuro, which is exceptionally well ran and with gorgeous interior design – it is a fabulous camp, and everyone who goes simply raves about it. Tarangire Treetops is located outside the park but it’s beautiful rooms are raised up into ancient baobab trees, making it, without any doubt, one of Tanzania’s most unique properties.
The best value options are by far Kichuguu; a fabulous tented camp inside the park, and outside the park Maramboi which is exceptionally priced but a slightly bigger option. We prefer Kichuguu for its location inside the park. It is also far more intimate and cosy than Maramboi which in comparison offers a more hotel-like stay.
Tarangire Sopa Lodge is a bigger hotel and we would recommend going for a more authentic ad classic safari option to make your stay special.
Best time to visit Tarangire National Park
The best time to visit Tarangire is probably in the dry season from June – October, where the game viewing is at its best. Tsatse flies tend to be pretty bad from December to March so although this is a good time to go to the Serengeti for the wildebeest calving, Tarangire is best avoided at this time.
Tarangire National Park – Further Reading
While we try and make our website as comprehensive as possible, if you would like some more background information, have a read through the Cadogan Guide to Tanzania and Zanzibar – Tarangire Chapter, written by one of our director’s Annabel. The most recent edition was published in 2005 so some of it might be slightly dated but generally it’s as comprehensive as they come.