The Rift Valley escarpment in northern Tanzania needs no introduction. It contains a greater selection of ecological and geological icons than almost anywhere else in Africa. Anyone with a passing interest in the safari concept has heard of the vast Serengeti or the magnificence of a crater called Ngorongoro. It is a region of unsurpassed beauty and grandeur where a vast, heaving wildlife multitude ebbs and flows to the ancient rhythms of a natural system largely unchanged since our own kind emerged from the trees.
The soda lakes brimming with a shimmering pink haze thanks to legions of flamingos are also ubiquitous here as are the tree climbing lions of Manyara National Park. Less known is the wooded wilderness of another national treasure…Tarangire. This stunning and richly diverse park lies close to Manyara and is part of the same conservation management system. Tarangire is not savanna like the Serengeti further north but rather broken Combretum/Acacia woodland overlaying an endless undulating landscape filled with wildlife…particularly elephant. The large pachyderm herds drift everywhere here and are found in enormous aggregations on the main riverine system in the dry season. The name Tarangire is derived from a Wambugwe word meaning “meandering” and references the serpentine journey of the river.
Here too are Baobabs in profusion and what is often an introduction to one’s first East African wildlife…Olive Baboon, Kirk’s Dikdik, Grant’s Gazelle, Masai Giraffe and Coke’s Hartebeest. The park is also an avian wonderland with notable highlights being Von der Decken’s Hornbill, Yellow collared Lovebird, Bare faced Go away Bird and the regionally endemic Ashy Starling.
This evocative wild place still exudes an air of true wilderness. It is less visited by tourists and possesses an innate feeling of remoteness which is always tangible and so appreciated. It is often the first wildlife experience on a northern circuit itinerary in Tanzania and is always considered one of the highlights.