Tarangire National Park
It has the vast number of baobabs that first capture the eye as you enter Tarangire National Park. The name of the park, Tarangire, is said to have been derived from the name of the river, which flows through the park and originates from a word of the Wambugwe tribe, meaning, “meandering”. The Tarangire River ensures water availability during the dry season, thus attracting high concentration of a wide variety of animals and birds, making the park a dry season refuge for wildlife from within the Maasai steppes. The gently rolling countryside is dotted with these majestic trees, which seem to dwarf the animals that feed beneath them. The most prominent plant species in the area is botanically known as Adansonia digitata or Baobab trees that dominate much of the park’s landscape, and like Elephants, they are equally treated as a trademark of the park.
It is 120 km from Arusha, bordered with Tarangire Game Controlled Area to the northeast, an area set aside by the government, to cater for the needs of the local people as a grazing ground for their herds.
Tarangire River being the major lifeline of the park flows across the area, north-south. The park is characterized by dense vegetation of acacia and mixed woodland with some relatively open grassland plains. Huge baobab trees and old doom palm trees however, dominate the area around Tarangire River to a lesser prominence, as well as black cotton grass. Although it is not as famous as other parks in the northern Tanzania, Tarangire offers the attractions as other parks in the north. One of its unique features is the annual animal immigration that takes place during the dry season.
While Serengeti’s animal migration has attained mundane fame, for many tourists, little is known of Tarangire annual migration. The difference with Serengeti however is that, in the Serengeti, animals migrate away from the park during the dry season (June to October), the opposite happens in Tarangire, animals migrate from Maasai Steppe into the park during the dry season. They migrate into the park mainly in search of water, which is provided by Tarangire River, and predators migrate along with their prey. During this period, the park accounts the largest concentration of animals than any park in the northern Tanzania..
June to October is the best time to see large numbers of Wildebeest, Elephants, Zebras, and Hartebeests. Not all animals are migratory though; other animals such as Giraffes, Impala, Elands, and Lesser-Kudu, Waterbucks, Thomson Gazelles and Leopards can be seen throughout the year. The Tree-Climbing Pythons and large herds of Elephants also attract more people. The park is also famous for the migratory birds, both Intra-Africa and Palaearctic.