Tarangire National Park: Everything You Need to Know

Tarangire giants

While Serengeti gets all the press, Tarangire is another jewel in the Northern Tanzania Circuit. Surrounded by Maasai Steppes and the Lakes of the Great Rift Valley, it has sprawling grasslands dotted with majestic Baobabs, swamps, woodlands, and charming hills. The river Tarangire that flows through it throughout the year attracts herds of elephants, wildebeests, buffalos, and many other species along with flocks of birds.

Especially during the dry season spotting wildlife will be quite easy as vegetation will be dried up which will improve visibility and an abundance of animals could be found near water bodies.

Who do we recommend this park for?

We recommend Tarangire for almost everyone interested in wildlife and at any time of the year!

With an area of about 3000 sq km, Tarangire provides a great opportunity to go on long game drives or take an adventurous walking tour and discover a variety of habitats with their unique geographical and biological makeups.

Huge baobabs & large elephant herds are the major highlights of Tarangire while it also hosts a good population of lions and great destination for birding year round. You will find several scenic view points across the park that offer great views of its diverse terrain and scenery.

In the Dry season (Jun to Oct), Tarangire river remains the only source of water in the region and the wildlife migrates from surrounding wilderness areas into the Tarangire national park. You will find a large number of elephants, wildebeests, zebras, hartebeests, gazelles, and buffaloes along with lions, leopards, hyenas and other predators.

In the Wet season (Nov to May), Wildlife sightings are still decent. You can still find elephant herds, most of the predators and many herbivores, though not as great in number as in dry season. This season however attracts many migratory species of birds making it the best destination for birding in North Tanzania. Also the scenery is lush and the park is less crowded making the game drives here a very enjoyable experience.

Tarangire is also the best destination for doing night game drives across all Northern circuit parks in Tanzania (only other option being at Lake Manyara NP).

Located just around 2 hours from Arusha airport, Tarangire is a convenient option to visit from Arusha on short trips.

We recommend clients to spend 2-3 days in the Dry season and 1-2 days in Wet season at Tarangire.


1. Wildlife and Vegetation

2. Birds

4. Things to Do

5. Locations to Visit Inside the Park

6. Climate

7. When to Visit

8. Location and How to Reach Tarangire

9. Accommodations

10. Fee Structure

11. Should I Visit Tarangire?

12. Safari Tours to Tarangire

13. Frequently Asked Questions

Wildlife and Vegetation in Tarangire

Tarangire’s biggest attractions are the large herds of elephants. During the summer season, Elephants are drawn to the river and the swamps of Tarangire, where they can wallow in mud and enjoy a cool bath to refresh themselves or graze on the grass nearby. Or they might be found near the Baobab and Acacia trees, enjoying the cool shade or snacking on juicy fruits, tree barks, and crunchy leaves. You’ll find elephants of all sizes, from cute little babies to imposing matriarchs.

Tarangire is also home to three more of the Big Five species: Lions, Buffalos, and Leopards. Lions and Buffalos will be very easily spotted. It is actually quite rare not to find them. Lions will be seen prowling about or lazing around under the shadow of the trees or you might even find a Lion resting in the branches tree! Buffalos will also be found taking a quick nap under the shade or grazing on the grass. Leopards on the other hand will be tricky to spot. They are amazing at camouflage and become invisible in the woodlands. If you are very lucky you might be able to spot one resting on the rocks.

Wildlife enthusiasts also visit Tarangire to spot the rare fringe-eared Oryx and long-necked Gerenuk. They can be seen grazing in the grassy plains.

Besides these, you will easily spot ungulates like giraffes, zebras, wildebeests, and hartebeests. Hippos can be found wallowing and grunting in the marshy pools. You might find a large python coiled up in the trees, sitting really still. You might also spot troops of baboons engaged in mischief or come across a group of Vervet monkeys having a fun time trying to steal items from you.

When it comes to vegetation Tarangire is most commonly known for its remarkable Baobab trees, but its vegetation is much more diverse than that. The arid region can also support Candelabras, Sausage trees, and aquatic forests like the woodlands of different species of Acacia that have flowing streams.

Pygmy falcon

Birds in Tarangire

If you are a bird lover then Tarangire is one of the best spots for you in Tanzania. With a count of 550 species, the park has the highest concentration of bird species in Tanzania.

In the drier sections of the park with open savannas, you will find kori bustards, the heaviest flying birds, and ostriches, along with flocks of hornbills. The woodlands of Tarangire house beautiful Hoopoes, Brown parrots and many more. Barbets, swallows, starlings, swifts, lilac breasted rollers are common inside the park. Park also provides a haven for migratory birds coming from Europe and Asia. Water birds, land birds, and raptors travel to Tarangire and breed there. These include birds like Cranes, Ibises, hawks, falcons, cuckoos, and turtle doves. Tarangire boasts over 50 species of birds of prey! From cute but dangerous Pygmy falcons to big Lappet-faced Vultures!

Besides them, Tarangire also protects the endangered bird species of Rufous-tailed weavers, yellow-collared lovebirds, and ashy starlings.

The list of birds found there is really long!

Tarangire termite mound

Things to Do

Full-day game drives are the most common activity at Tarangire. You will be driven around the park in a 4x4 vehicle by your guide to explore the woodlands, grasslands, floodplains, and hills hosting their flora and fauna. Apart from game drives during the day, you can consider below additional activities:

Night game drives: Night game drives at Tarangire are done by a select few accommodations in/around the park and not by tour operators. A night game drive will be very different from a day game drive. Besides looking for nocturnal critters and listening to their sounds you will have a great view of the African night sky and admire all the stars. The feeling of being alone in the bush at night is quite unique. Some of the animals you might come across on night game drives inside the park are genet cat, african wild cat, bush babies, birds, black eared foxes and spring hares and if your lucky you might come across a lion or may be even a leopard. Wildlife sightings on night game drives outside the park are less frequent. To do a night game drive inside Tarangire, you need to stay at select accommodations inside or bordering the park and book this activity as an add-on. Service fees ranges between $100-150 per client depending on accommodation and a night permit fees of $59 will be charged on top.

Walking safari: You can also go on a walking safari to get a different perspective of the park. You might notice the little things that you couldn’t notice from your vehicles. You will be looking for tracks left by animals such as elephants and wild cats with the help of your guide. You will also notice little insects like the dung beetles and ant lions that are an important part of the ecosystems. Since there would be no noise created by the vehicle the sounds of the wild would also become more prominent. However, it is better to do this activity during the dry season as it won’t be muddy and there will be fewer tsetse flies to worry about. We offer walking tours inside Tarangire at $45 per person for 3-4 hours or at $60 per person for 5-6 hours walking tour.

Balloon Safari also takes place in Tarangire. It starts early in the morning around sunrise. The aerial perspective from the balloon gives you stunning views of the topographies of the park. Balloon safari costs $520 per person in Tarangire.

Maasai village visit Close to Tarangire, there are maasai villages that you can visit. These are a bit less commercialized than the the Maasai village tours that happen at Ngorongoro crater. You are expected to tip about $25 to the maasai village head at the end of your village tour.

Locations to Visit Inside The Park

There are multiple interesting locations to explore in the park.

Silale swamp is a scenic location to visit. During the wet season, the swamp soaks in all the water which then spreads into other areas of the park during the dry season. For the most part of the year, it is green, and the water in this area attracts large elephant herds and a lot of herbivores during the dry season, which in turn lures the carnivores such as lions and wild dogs. If you are lucky you can even spot the rare antelopes like greater kudu or oryx or eland in this region. So this is a good spot to look for wild animals while taking in the scenery.

The Tarangire river is another important attraction as it is the main source of water that attracts animals during the dry season. Small and big herbivores collect around the banks of the river to drink water, but you should also be able to find huge herds of elephants in the river’s vicinity. They might be close by munching on leaves or wallowing in the river. Tarangire River Landscape Near water bodies you might see the animals carefully approach the river or the pools to drink water and you can feel the fear and anxiety in the air. A hidden lion can appear out of nowhere and scatter all the animals.

If you are in Tarangire for the fringe-eared oryx, then Matete woodland within the park is for you. The region is covered in Acacia trees, tall elephant grass, and reeds, and the Oryx is often seen here. This area is also considered a good spot for finding Leopards. The cat is elusive and will be difficult to spot of course, but leopards prefer woodlands more so you can try to look for it in the branches of Acacia here.

If you are interested in birds of prey, Lemiyon Triangle might be the spot for you. The area has enormous Baobabs that lean over the road here, and the raptors and other birds of prey can be seen sitting in the branches or swishing about nearby.

Kitibong hill is another scenic location inside the park. With the hill in the backdrop and the grassy plains in front of it, the view is stunning. This place is preferred by wild buffalos, so if you are a fan of the helmet heads you should try exploring this region. You might find herds of buffalos and other small herbivores as well.

Weather and Climate of Tarangire

The climate of Tarangire is moderate throughout the year. Although it does get quite cold in the morning and at night.

Tarangire experiences wet season from November to May, and dry season from June to October.

During the wet season, the temperature goes as high as 28°C / 82°F and goes down to 16°C / 61°F at night.

During the dry season, the temperature is around 26°C / 79°F. And at night it drops down to about 14°C / 57°F.

When to Visit Tarangire?

We recommend Tarangire throughout the year!

Huge baobabs & large elephant herds, good population of lions and great diversity of birds can be seen throughout the year.

In the Dry season (Jun to Oct), Tarangire river remains the only source of water in the region and the wildlife migrates from surrounding wilderness areas into the Tarangire national park. You will find a large number of elephants, wildebeests, zebras, hartebeests, gazelles, and buffaloes along with lions, leopards, hyenas and other predators. Tsetse flies will also be less bothersome. We recommend spending 2-3 days at Tarangire in the dry season.

In Wet season (Nov to May), Wildlife sightings are still decent. You can still find elephants, predators and several species of herbivores, though in fewer numbers than in dry season. This season attracts migratory birds making it the best destination for birding in North Tanzania. The scenery is lush and the park is far less crowded. So you have few other vehicles (or none) at each sighting. However, there can be Tsetse flies so you will have to be extra careful or avoid the areas where these flies are a concern. We recommend spending 1-2 days at Tarangire in wet season.

Location and how to reach Tarangire

Tarangire is a part of the northern circuit and is located just south of Lake Manyara so it is well located among Northern circuit parks.

Most common way to get to Tarangire is by road from Arusha and it takes about 2 hours from Arusha airport to Tarangire gate.

Tarangire is about 45 min drive away from Manyara and 2 hours drive away from Ngorongoro conservation area gate. From Central Serengeti, Tarangire is nearly 5.5 hours drive.

Accommodations at Tarangire National park

A wide selection of accommodation options ranging from basic camping to luxury lodges is available for you to choose from. Some of these accommodations are inside while some bordering the park, located in the surrounding wilderness areas. Most of the accommodations located inside are in wildlife rich areas and they let you start game drives soon after you exit from the premises. Most of the accommodations located outside are in wilderness management areas and wildlife does come close to many of these lodges in the evenings. These lodges can be anywhere from 5 min to 30 min from nearest entry gate to Tarangire.

If you are on a budget and visiting Tarangire only for a day before proceeding to other parks, you can also choose to stay at hotels in Mto Wa Mbu village which is about 45 min from Tarangire (towards Manyara/Ngorongoro/Serengeti) or at Karatu town, which is about 90 min from Tarangire gate and in the direction of Ngorongoro and Serengeti. So for clients going to these parks after Tarangire or coming from these parks to Tarangire, Karatu or Mto Wa Mbu accommodations could be a decent choice.

But if your budget allows, we recommend you to consider staying inside the park or just outside the park as these offer closer to wilderness experience and provides quick access to park than the ones located at Mto Wa Mbu or Karatu.

Below are the popular accommodations we use in and around Tarangire.

Prices are on full board basis, per person per night for double sharing and include taxes but do not include applicable statutory fees like Wilderness management area fees (USD 30 per person per night) for accommodations located outside Tarangire or concession fees/special campsite fees (USD 59 per person per night) for accommodations located inside Tarangire.

Prices mentioned indicate rough price range from low season to high season.

Accommodations located outside Tarangire(In Wilderness areas around Tarangire)

Burunge Tented Lodge: USD 80 to 120

Sangaiwe Tented Lodge: USD 100 to 130

Tarangire Osupuko Lodge: USD 100 to 130

Tarangire Simba Lodge: USD 100 to 160

Maramboi Tented Lodge: USD 160 to 200

Boundary Hill Lodge: USD 160 to 200

Nimali Tarangire Camp: USD 390 to 510

Wilderness management area fees of USD 30 per person per night applies for the above accommodations.

Accommodations located Inside the park

Ang'ata Tarangire Camp: USD 160 to 200

Baobab Tented Camp: USD 170 to 210

Tarangire Tortilis Camp: USD 110 to 220

Acacia Tarangire Luxury Camp: USD 160 to 230

Tarangire Ndovu Tented Lodge: USD 200 to 270

Nyikani Tarangire Camp: USD 170 to 270

Topguide Bush Camp Lolkisale: USD 340 to 520

Tarangire Kuro Treetops Lodge: USD 420 to 630

Lemala Mpingo Ridge: USD 480 to 870

Sanctuary Swala Camp: USD 890 to 1260

Concession fees/special campsite fees of USD 59 per person per night applies for above accommodations

Fees Structure

The entry fee for Tarangire depends on the visitor's nationality and age. For foreigners, the park fee is $59 per adult per day. This park fee is valid for 24 hours. However, you must note that the park fees will also expire if you step out of the park before completing 24 hours.

If your accommodation is inside Tarangire, then a concession fee of $59 per adult per night will apply. If you are doing night game drives, permit fees of $59 per adult will also apply on top of the service fees charged by accommodations for night game drives.

Should I Visit Tarangire?

Tarangire might not be as big as Serengeti or have the interesting geological history of Ngorongoro, but it has its own perks to offer in the form of huge elephant herds, Baobabs, a great density of wildlife and birdlife, and scenic locations. We recommend Tarangire for most clients visiting Northern Tanzania, throughout the year.

A significant number of clients tell us that they enjoyed Tarangire even more than Ngorongoro crater! And some of our regular clients who have seen all the parks, ask for visiting only Serengeti (Central Serengeti + Migration location in Serengeti) and Tarangire and skip other parks.

In Dry season(Jun to Oct), Tarangire is strongly recommended. Wildlife sightings around the river are frequent and if you are short on time or budget for visiting Serengeti then Tarangire would be the next best option. Or if you have time to visit more parks than just Serengeti or interested in seeing large elephant herds,variety of birds, beautiful and diverse scenery from what Serengeti offers than Tarangire is great addition to your itinerary.

If you are visiting in the wet season(Nov to May), wildlife density can be a bit lower but there are good reasons to visit. The whole park looks green and lush, baobabs will be bearing new leaves (they look dry and leafless in dry season), river looks beautiful with good waterlevels and you still see plenty of wildlife including large elephant herds and big cats, even in wet season. For birds, there is no better place/time to visit in North Tanzania than Tarangire in wet season. However, towards the end of wet season (April/May) when the rains are at their peak and the grass the tallest, wildlife sightings become harder in the park. But you can still see elephants, some wildlife. If you are lucky and a bit patient to actively look for wildlife you might still see quite a bit of wildlife even during April/May. Great number of birds are seen throughout the wet season.

Safari Tours to Tarangire

We offer various itineraries that include safari tours to Tarangire National Park. To view some of our popular tours, click here.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many days do you suggest for Tarangire during the dry season?

In the dry season, we would recommend two full days of safari. For those who are bird watchers, we would also recommend a third day so they have time to explore all the corners of the park. But if you are short on time, even a one day safari at Tarangire would be a decent option. But you may not be able to explore till the southern reaches of the park with just 1 day.

How many days do you suggest for Tarangire during the wet season?

For clients visiting the park during the wet season we would recommend spending one day at the park. But if you are a bird watcher, we recommend spending 2 days here even during the wet season.

If I have only 1 day at Tarangire, then where do I go for game drives?

Within one day you will be able to visit the important spots like the Tarangire river, swamps, the woodlands, mostly located in the Northern part of the park but it will be a little rushed and also a bit crowded. We would also recommend you to start as early in the morning as possible for game drives and to choose an accommodation inside Tarangire so you get more time in the park.

Depending on the animals, habitats you want to see and time you have, your guide will suggest the best route for the day.

Which sections of the park can I explore on day 2 at Tarangire?

If you have 2 days at Tarangire, then on day one you can choose to cover the northern part of the river, visit the matete woodlands, and the northern and the central part of the park.

On day two you can explore the southern part of the park including Kitibong Hill. This area is not frequently visited so you will find very little crowds. The game drive will be able to go at a slower, more relaxed pace with a second day at hand.

Difference between the night game drive inside Tarangire vs outside?

Night game drives are offered by lodges at Tarangire. The ones located outside the park offer night game drives outside, and the ones located inside the park offer night game drives inside. Night game drives experience inside is significantly better than outside. Outside the park, you will be driving close to communities of people and wildlife won't be seen much and maybe you will find a few antelopes.

Inside the park, there will be no disturbance from human activities at all. You will be surrounded by complete wilderness and have a much greater opportunity of coming across nocturnal creatures.

Advantages of selecting accommodation inside Tarangire for an overnight stay?

Staying at accommodations inside the parks gives you the opportunity to book night game drives(if it's offered by that accommodation) inside the park. Further, if you are staying inside you will be able to spend more time in the wilderness. Most of the lodges are located in the areas where there is a good concentration of wildlife. So you’ll spot animals as soon as you start driving or maybe even from your windows. An antelope or two might accompany you while you are on your way to the dining area. And at night you will be able to hear the sounds of the animals and birds. A roar of a lion or a cry of a hyena. There will be a closer interaction with nature.

By staying inside, you can start game drives right at 6:00 AM after you leave your camp/lodge. You can return to the lodge for breakfast/lunch and have a hot lunch at your camp/lodge. Clients staying outside usually don’t have the option of returning to accommodation for hot lunch as park fees will expire when they exit from the park gate. So to reenter the park after lunch, extra park fees need to be paid.

If you are staying outside even if the park gates are only 5-10 min away, these gates in turn might be located a bit far from the areas that have good wildlife concentration. Plus you will be spending 15 minutes at the gate because of the paperwork as well. You won’t have to face this if you are staying inside the park.

How to deal with the tsetse flies? Which season is best for avoiding them? Which area should be avoided?

Tsetse flies are mostly in the bushy areas so you should stay away from them if you want to avoid the tsetse. Lodges are located away from the bushy areas as well. Tsetse flies are also attracted to black and blue so avoid wearing such colors, and we also recommend wearing clothes that cover you properly.

Tsetse flies are more active in hotter weather, so they will not be active in the early morning or at night as it is cold. But you will have to deal with them during the day when it gets hotter. They are also bound to increase during the rainy season. If you are visiting Tarangire then, besides wearing proper clothes we also recommend keeping a bug repellant.

Lodges have their own systems to avoid Tsetse flies. They have blue or black covered flags with poison or sterilizing elements on them that attracts the flies and prevents them from breeding.

Which accommodations offer night game drives in Tarangire?

While at Tarangire, night game drives offer a unique experience, a chance to get close to nocturnal species as they get on with their nightly rituals. Night game drives are arranged by accommodations only (and not by tour operators), so if you are considering doing this, it is required that you stay at an accommodation that offers night game drives. Accommodations located inside park arrange night game drives inside the park, while accommodations located outside arrange the activity outside the park. We recommend night game drives inside the park over outside.

Few accommodations inside the park that can arrange night game drives: 1. Ang’ata Tarangire Camp 2. Tarangire Baobab Tented Camp 3. Tarangire Safari Lodge 4. Tarangire Ndovu Tented Lodge 5. Lemala Mpingo Ridge 6. Sanctuary Swala

Some Accommodations outside the park that arrange night game drives:

  1. Boundary Hill Lodge
  2. Osupuko Lodge
  3. Kirurumu Tarangire Lodge
  4. Nimali Tarangire Camp
  5. Elewana Tarangire tree tops

There are more accommodation options both inside and outside the park that can arrange night game drives at Tarangire.


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