Tarangire National Park
The fierce sun sucks the moisture from the landscape, baking the earth a dusty red, and forcing the withered grass to become as brittle as straw. The Tarangire River shrivels to a shadow of its wet season self, but it is choked with wildlife. Thirsty nomads have wandered hundreds of kilometers knowing that here, always, there is water. Tarangire is one of the most diverse parks in Tanzania and situated in the north-western corner of Tanzania’s Maasai Steppe, east of The Great Rift Valley. Covering an area of 1,360 sq km comprising scattered acacia woodland, baobab and palm trees, plains, swamps and rivers. There is an abundance of big game including lion, elephant and buffalo, as well as a vast bird and lesser game population.
During the dry season, herds of up to 300 elephants scratch the dry riverbed for underground streams, while migratory wildebeest, zebra, buffalo, impala, gazelle, hartebeest and eland crowd the shrinking lagoons. It's the greatest concentration of wildlife outside the Serengeti ecosystem, and the one place in Tanzania where dry-country antelope such as the stately fringe-eared oryx and peculiar long-necked gerenuk are regularly observed.
During the rainy season, the seasonal visitors scatter over the park until they exhaust the green plains and the river calls once more. But Tarangire's mobs of elephant are always easily encountered, wet or dry.
More ardent bird-lovers might keep an eye open for screeching flocks of the dazzlingly colorful yellow-collared lovebird, the somewhat drabber rufous-tailed weaver and ashy starling – all endemic to the dry savannah of north-central Tanzania.
Tarangire's tree-climbing lions lounge in the branches where the fruit of the sausage tree disguises the twitch of a tail.