The Tarangire National Park is a beautiful game reserve only a couple of hours drive away - along good roads - from Arusha, the ‘safari capital’ of Tanzania. It comes to life in the dry season – especially in September – when the drought on the surrounding plains cause the animals to congregate in great numbers around the Tarangire river. At this time you can see huge herds of wildebeest, zebra, elephants and buffalo. There are also large numbers of lions and good leopard spotting possibilities, although the habitat is not as suitable as the Serengeti for cheetah and you are unlikely to see hyenas. (Click on the thumbnails below to enlarge the photographs)
The landscape is also spectacular with the sparkling Tarangire River wriggling its way through the surrounding grassland and numerous baobab trees studding the plains (see photograph below). There are also birds in abundance park with many different species of bird of prey (including eagles, buzzards, harriers, kites, falcons and owls) resident in the park. Rollers, hornbills, weavers, weavers, vultures, and water birds of all descriptions are also well represented. If you are interested in bird watching it is a good idea to enquire of your safari company whether any of their drivers are expert in this field as this will greatly enhance your trip. The second and third time we went to this park, we travelled with Wildersun and needless to say, Steven, our driver, was also an ornithological expert.
A highlight of our trips to the Tarangire was spending an hour watching two lionesses climbing a tree, and then attempting to get comfortable and doze off in the branches!
We stayed at the Taringire Sopa lodge, of which I cannot speak highly enough. The rooms are huge and the public areas spacious and tastefully decorated. The food is excellent – even for vegetarians – the manager attentive, and the swimming pool refreshing. Looking out over the surrounding area from the comfort of our room one evening we were able to see the silhouette against the orange sunset of a pair of storks roosting in a nearby Acacia tree; in the distance, a small herd of elephants made their way through the trees in single file; and, in the foreground, only a few feet away from our room, a tiny dik-dik foraged in the undergrowth.
The only drawback to tourists in the Tarangire is the presence of the biting tsetse fly – though they have an important role to play in keeping out the Maasai cattle, who are not immune to the form of sleeping sickness they carry. Even a tee shirt or light cotton shirt is not enough to protect the unwary from the insect’s bite. I can still remember my surprise on feeling a sharp pinprick on my shoulder and looking down to see a fly the size of a small coin squatting there. The only solution is to wear a thick long sleeved shirt and long trousers – and have a can of insect repellent handy!