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Tarangire National Park/Tanzania

Introducing Tarangire National Park

Beautiful baobab-studded Tarangire National Park stretches along its namesake river and covers 2850 sq km, though adjacent preserves help protect the extended ecosystem. It’s usually assigned only a day visit as part of a larger northern circuit safari, though longer visits are rewarding in the dry season when it has the second highest (after Serengeti) concentration of wildlife of any Tanzanian national park and reportedly the largest concentration of elephants in the world. Large herds of zebras, wildebeest, hartebeest, elands, oryx, waterbucks, lesser kudus, giraffes and buffaloes gather along the Tarangire River and several large permanent swamps until the short wet season allows them to disperse across the Maasai Steppe; over an area 10 times larger than the park. Lion, leopard and cheetah are also on offer, but these predators are harder to spot here than in Serengeti. With more than 450 species, including many rare ones, some say that Tarangire is the best birdwatching destination in Tanzania.

The best spot for wildlife drives is along the river in the northern end of the park, but with more time Silale and Gurusi swamps further south are also good. Three-hour walking safaris (US$20 per person plus US$20 per group) can be done from the park gate (though the armed rangers are simply security and haven’t had much training about wildlife). Oliver’s Camp offers walks with its own trained guides in its more wildlife-filled parts of the park and Sanctuary Swala intends to begin doing them. Oliver’s and Swala also do night drives for their guests. Walking and night drives are also available from most of the camps and lodges outside the park boundaries.