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Located slightly off the main safari route, Tarangire National Park is a lovely quiet park in Northern Tanzania that is most famous for its elephant migration, birding and quiet authentic safari atmosphere. The majority of travellers to the region either miss out Tarangire altogether or venture into the park for a matter of hours leaving parts of Tarangire virtually untouched.
With a game viewing area that is roughly ten times the size of nearby Manyara 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 immense concentrations of game in the peak months and a fraction of the visitors that go to any of the other Northern parks. The game viewing here from July through to October is superb and the atmosphere and habitat is completely different from the 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 Olivers Camp are the perfect place to explore this remote area, and to really get away from any other travellers. Overall, a superb little park that offers great value compared to its neighbours and a seriously good option for getting away from it all.
Tarangire: What Game
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 localised migration pattern that is followed by the majority of game that resides in and around the park. As a result, Tarangire is a park which is superb in season but questionable out of its good months. Elephants are the main attraction with up to 3,000 in the park during the peak season 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.
The main activity in Tarangire is daytime game driving, however, staying outside the park makes walking and night safari a possibility. There are no boat safaris on the rivers here but Olivers Camp offers adventurous fly camping trips and very good walking safari. Both Olivers Camp and Swala have recently started night safari within the park itself. Ask us for more information as the regulations here seem to change every year!
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: Where to stay
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 Olivers Camp are the top end choices in the park, with Olivers offering very good value for money considering the quality of accommodation on offer. Tarangire Treetops is located outside the park but due to all the rooms being raised into ancient baobab trees, this is without any doubt one of Tanzania's most unique properties.
While we try and make our website as comprehensive as possible, if you would like some more background information on Tarangire, or Tanzania in general, have a read through the Cadogan Guide to Tanzania and Zanzibar, written by our director Annabel. The most recent addition was published in 2005 so some of it might be slightly dated but generally it’s as comprehensive as they come. Click here for the relevant section.
Recommended lodges in this area:
Kwihala Camp has a found a really great happy medium. It has achieved a true, raw, wilderness which compliments an extremely polished service and comfortable accommodation. It does give you a real experience in the Tanzanian bush which makes the camp a very special place to go and stay.
Swala is probably the most luxurious camp in the Tarangire National Park. The bandas are all very smartly furnished and comfortable. It is situated in probably the best game viewing area of the park, fantastic for game drives and walking safaris. It should not be compared to Olivers, as it’s very different in style. The location is just off a swamp, thus attracting huge numbers of elephant during the dry season.
Tarangire Treetops run by Elewana, a trusted safari operator with some of Tanzania’s top properties in their portfolio. The camp itself is amazing. The rooms, the layout, the views. It’s an ideal setting for a safari camp and the quality of the product really shines through. But the only drawback is that the camp is located outside the park.