Tarangire National Park is located 115 km south of Arusha and is a long and narrow park that covers 1360 km2 and largely runs along the Tarangire river. The natural vegetation - acacia forest and huge baobab trees - are alternated by large swamps. The swamps provide for juicy grass areas because of their black mud, while along the water there are huge trees, including several Fig trees and Tamarind trees. Although relatively small, Tarangire has major advantages: apart from the good accessibility, the park offers the largest concentrations of wildlife in Tanzania after the Ngorongoro crater, but fewer tourists come here. Also, a number of species can be found only here and not in the major parks in the west, such as oryx, grant gazelles and gerenuk. The rhino is unfortunately no longer to be seen in Tarangire.
The park is located on the southern edge of a vast habitat that extends from Amboseli in Kenya. If the country and the smaller rivers dry up, the herds move to the ever-present waters of the Tarangire and its surrounding swamps. In June the first oryx and eland arrive followed by elephant, wildebeest and zebra. Therefore, the best time to visit is from June to October. Although the herds stay here until March and the birth of thousands of calves is a fantastic sight, the rain, abundant vegetation and large quantities of insects make this time less suitable for spotting wildlife.
A beautiful location in the Tarangire National Park is the Silale-swamp. This is the most northerly of the major swamps in the park, which - fed by natural sources - is an oases of lush green grass year round. Many of the animals that you see here are covered with a layer of mud because they have stayed in the water until their waist to be able to reach the best food. Also you will find a large number of birds, including the fish eagle, marabou, white pelican and sacred ibis. Around the swamps you may also be confronted with a particular feature of the park: tree climbing lions. The phenomenon of tree climbing lions was first reported in Manyara, but actually occurs in several places in northern Tanzania. It is assumed that lions did this to avoid the tsetse fly bite which they would normally get if they were lying in the grass and that this behaviour is copied by others. Lions can walk for many miles to get to their favourite tree.
Tarangire National Park is part of the Tarangire Conservation Area. This means that the park is maintained under strict rules and regulations and the conservation area is protected, but although it has strict regulations they have less of them. For example, in this area you are able to go on night game-drives and do nature walks. The Tarangire Conservation Area is an attempt to protect the important habitats outside the Tarangire National Park as well as providing an opportunity for the local communities to be involved in the management of the Conservation Area and the revenue generated through various low impact tourism ventures. The Conservation Area comprises four distinct areas, the Lolkisale Conservation Area (LCA), the Naitolia Concession Area (NCA), the Makuyuni Elephant Dispersal Area (MEDA) and the Lolkisale Livestock and Wildlife Zone (LLWZ).