Located about 120 km (75 miles) west of the town of Arusha, Tarangire National Park is a great safari destination for those with limited time. Its proximity to Lake Manyara National Park also means visitors can visit two national parks in Tanzania in short period of time.
Tarangire is the sixth-largest national park in Tanzania, and can easily be covered in two days. It is eponymously named by the river that runs through it, providing valuable water to resident animals during the dry season. While the park does not offer all of the big five, it is especially famous for its large number of elephants. It is estimated that nearly 4000 elephants can be found here, so any safari will surely involve ample sightings of these large mammals. In addition to elephants and lions, several other large animals can be seen here such as giraffe, leopard, buffalo, hyenas, wildebeest and zebra. In fact, four of the big five are found in Tarangire, with only the rhino being absent.
The magnificent scenery is also a huge draw to Tarangire. In addition to the stoic, thorny acacias, one can find the mighty baobab tree here. The tree bears nutritious fruits that are high in Vitamin C and in calcium, and which are very popular with the animals. Another striking feature of the Tarangire landscape is the termite mound, which is found in abundance here. Some reach great heights and they can be mistaken for small trees from far away. It is also not uncommon to see a cheetah perched atop an abandoned termite mound, as they make for an excellent vantage point for spotting prey.
Tarangire National Park is recommended year-round, with possibly only the heavy rainy season putting a ‘damper’ on things as the foliage is very dense and the watering holes are aplenty. The heavy rain season runs from the end of March through mid-May. Conversely, the peak of the dry season, around September and October, is when game viewing is at its best, as the animals are forced to gather at the remaining water sources. Another benefit to visiting Tarangire during the drier months is you will encounter fewer Tsetse flies. Anyone who has been bitten by one of these annoying, relentless insects will know that they can be very trying on the patience, particularly when one is trying to photograph an animal. The most annoying thing about the Tsetse fly, after its sharp bite, is the fact that it is a diurnal animal – it is active during the daylight hours. Tsetse flies tend to be drawn towards darker colors, such as dark blues and violets, so wearing lighter-colored clothing will help. There will also be fewer mosquitos when visiting during the dry season.