Destination Highlights – Tarangire National Park, Tanzania

View of Silale Swamp in Tarangire National Park, Tanzania.

Tarangire National Park gets its name from the river that runs through the middle of it. The Tarangire River provides a permanent source of year-round water, but in the dry season, it serves as a retreat for large numbers of mammals, including herds of elephant numbering 200-300 strong.

Elephant dust bath.

Located approximately 120 km southwest of Arusha, the drive from Arusha to Tarangire takes between 1.5 and 2 hours over good roads. Tarangire National Park was established in 1970 and spans more than 2600 km2 making it the fifth largest park in Tanzania. Four of the Big Five are found within the park’s boundaries (buffalo, lion, leopard, and elephant) and the bird checklist exceeds 500 species. The open baobab and acacia woodlands make game viewing a bit easier than in areas with dense vegetation.

The trees between the road and Silale Swamp are reliable locations for leopard sightings.

According to park records, Tarangire is home to more elephants per square kilometer than anywhere else in the world. It also hosts the second highest concentration of wildlife in Tanzania during the dry season. The Serengeti/Ngorongoro ecosystem tops the list.


The Tarangire River system is the only reliable source of water for wildlife of the Masai Steppe during the dry season (July – November). Large mammals that migrated out of the park in search of better food during the rainy season return to the river as water holes dry up. Wildlife viewing is easiest at this time, but other months of the year still provide ample game sightings. You can add phenomenal birding and stunning scenery to the list of Tarangire’s attractions throughout the year.  Tarangire should be considered by all travelers planning on touring Tanzania’s northern safari circuit.

Here’s a link to more photos taken at Tarangire during a recent scouting trip: