A rocky riverine winds through a vast expanse of undulating grasslands filled with ‘umbrella’ acacia and baobab trees. Just around every corner, you come across herds of elephants, who often have a reddish pigment to their image. In the southern area of this vast national park is the Silale Swamp. Through all of the dry season, the swamp remains green and rich and full of moisture. This results in year-round game viewing and the most epic spectrum of mammals and birds. To best see this spectacle, it is advised to go in the dry season to see the variance of the dry land that surrounds and this 70 square kilometre mass of lush greenery.
Due to the diversity in colours, the vast views, the dramatic scenery and game, I would say that the Tarangire is a photographer’s mecca. You can catch the subject of the photo with the most epic background with ease. The spectrum of colours created by the variance in biomes gives photographs that extra element of magnificence. The reddish mud clad elephants make a fine subject to your photographs. If you are very skilled you might be able to catch a vast bull elephant walking through the rich green grass of the swamp, as it walks the insects in the grass jump and flies away with every step he makes. At this point, Bee Eaters, Kingfishers and Rollers dart through the sky to pick off the bugs like miniature spitfires. Getting all three subjects with that green background is an epic achievement.
The Tarangire is famous for its elephants but it also has many lions, buffalo and leopard. The great thing about driving around the Tarangire as you feel slightly more adventurous. There are fewer vehicles compared to other reserves. The roads are all cotton soil and dust. There are very few human buildings or scars on the view. When you discover an exciting sighting such as a lone male lion, it’s very rare for any other game drives being at the same sighting. You almost long for some other party to come round the corner for you to share the wonderful moment with.
Getting to the Tarangire is a breeze. When one does the famous Northern Circuit in Tanzania you can either start in the north or the south. Depending on budget and logistics you may have a preference. However, I would say that the Tarangire is a great place to start or finish a circuit as it’s a place to relax and take things at your own pace. It is a peaceful place and a great introduction to a few days in the bush or even a great place to de-pressurise after an intense Serengeti migration safari. There is one airstrip in the park which gives you great access to the rest of Tanzania. But if you are driving it is a two-hour drive from Arusha.
My favourite lodge in the Tarangire is Kuro Camp. It is found near to the Silale Swamp in a glade of Acacia and Kigelia trees on the banks of the often dry Tarangire River. There are six semi-permanent tents beautifully decorated to fit into one of the most naturally stunning places on the continent. The rooms are vast and airy with grass roofs and canvas walls. It is run by one of our favourite safari suppliers in East Africa called Nomad. The camp itself is quiet, calming and relaxed. There is no unnecessary pomp or shine. But at the same time, you would never believe you are in the middle of the bush with that level of comfort. The staff are very friendly and proud of their office. They take huge care and interest in your stay and look to share everything they can with you.
The best way to way to incorporate the Tarangire would be to fly to Arusha and start a fully inclusive Nomad circuit. Drive to the Tarangire and do two days there to acclimatise. Then head to the Ngorongoro Crater to stay in Entamanu for two nights. Then drive through the southern Serengeti to catch the migration at one of Nomad’s luxury mobile Serengeti Safari Camps. Have three days intense safari following the world’s greatest mammal sighting. Then finish in the flagship camp, Lamai for two days. This is the ultimate safari where you see four of the best camps in four of the best environments with the best guides and best service. This is the ideal East African safari in my opinion.