Tarangire: A land of elephants
Of all the parks on the northern circuit, Tarangire National Park is by far my favorite. We stopped in Tarangire on day 10 of our 14-day, family safari in August. The park is conveniently located a few hours southwest of Arusha. After a week and a half 'off roading' in the Serengeti, the paved road leading to the park was a greatly welcomed sight. The road in is lined with bomas and many Masai can be seen tending to their herds. It is a stark contrast from the Masai in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, who were displaced from their land in the Serengeti and are no longer allowed to tend to their agricultural roots. As Tarangire is an elephant refuge, the park is an elephant-lover's dream. We were rewarded just minutes after arrival as we encountered a multi-generational herd frolicking in a small pond not far from the entrance. The youngsters practiced their aggressive play to the delight of our family.
Wildlife of Tarangire
For the non-elephant enthusiast, the park doesn't disappoint. The wildlife is varied and abundant. Tarangire has resident wildebeest, zebra, giraffes, lions, leopards and an abundance of cute little warthogs and vervet monkeys. This is just a small sample of the great many animals we saw. For birders, the park has a nice selection from tiny, colorful lovebirds to the larger hornbills and tawny Eagles. Like the animals, the park’s landscape is quite varied as well. The park has rolling hills as well as heavily wooded areas with the trademark baobab trees. There is also an area known as "small Serengeti", where you will find long grasses and an open plain area reminiscent of Central Serengeti. Even the picnic areas were lovely with scenic views while fighting off the monkeys trying to steal a snack.
Unwinding in Tarangire
The highlight of our first day was happening upon a cheetah sitting alone by a dried river bed. We watched as the cheetah lazily strolled behind our vehicle and we followed as it set off looking for prey. We followed it for about an hour hoping we would witness a chase and kill. Despite the disappointment of not seeing a kill, the kids were quite excited to see where it would go. Our overnight was spent at Tarangire Safari Lodge The lodge advertises "awesome views" on the directional rock at the road leading to the lodge. This boast is not an exaggeration. The views from the terrace overlooking the river are spectacular. Arguably, the best sundowner views we experienced were here. From the terrace we enjoyed a nice glass of South African wine while the kids played in the refreshing pool before dinner. Our game drive was over for the day but the animal sightings didn't end. The terrace overlooks the river, and we watched as more zebras and elephants passed and troops of baboons scurried to their nightly shelter as the sun set. The park doesn't have the crowds that we experienced at Lake Manyara.
I found the lack of traffic to add to the overall enjoyment of the park. I would highly recommend a two-day visit to this fantastic park!