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Trip Report For Tarangire National Park Safari in Tanzania
It was a very exciting day as I was living my dream of visiting an African safari. The whole idea of experiencing the National Geographic and Live Discovery channels is exciting to the core.
The first day is a safari and game drive in Tarangire national park located 120 km southwest of Arusha city. It took us 3 hours to reach the park where the last 5km have no roads, maybe making visitors use it because there are no roads inside the park. The guide does all the licensing work for us to enter the park areas.
On the way we passed the Arusha airport which looked like a private airport due to its size and proximity to the road with cars whizzing by. We also passed through lots of open fields and occasional trees. That was drizzling a bit saturating the color environment. The route has many ups and downs but strong safari vehicles have no problems navigating through these terrains. When you arrive in the park, we are given simple instructions by our guide:
- Don’t feed the animals
- Don’t litter
- Do not get out of the vehicle at any time because walking is not allowed
All the time inside the park one has to stay in the safari vehicle. We arrived at the park at 10 am with a suggestion of lunch. It is a regular way of safari outing with picnic lunches to ensure that the whole day is spent on game drives without returning to lodges/camps for meals. A guide with a driver is a skilled worker who has to take care of many things with the driver and watching animals.
Some of the national park details shared are:
- Tarangire is national park gazette number 197.
- It has an area of 2580 sq km.
- The park gets its name from the Tarangire river that flows through it.
- The word Tarangire means river of Warthogs because of the large population of warthogs in this park.
Every national park has something unique, baobab trees and elephant tusk for Tarangire. The bones of these elephants are very numerous and their population is also large within this park.
Once instructions and information are shared and we are ready to go inside, the guide opens the perfect roof for the best view possible. The windows are large enough for a view but they can sometimes limit the view of the landscape. Once the roof was raised it was simply beautiful with large open grasslands and eyes hunting for wildlife. Driving another 500 meters and we are officially within the limits of Tarangire national park. There are only mud roads but the ride is still not felt. The first thing we saw was a pile of rubble. Termites and other insects are a very important part of the ecosystem and the best pollinators of the earth. They travel in armies and make sure that nothing is left after killing to stop or defile the area.
Open grasslands with trees that also include the unique Baobab tree. It is a broad bark tree with small branches and few leaves. Jokingly it is also called as if the tree has been planted in contradiction with its roots showing instead of the actual branches. This tree has natural holes between the trunk for hunters to hide and animals to rest. The first animal that appears is a giraffe that is quietly feeding on a yellow oak tree which is a very long thorn tree and is also a favorite of the giraffe. The tongue moves sideways to avoid any bite and then swallow meat. A female giraffe can be identified by having visible hair on the horn on her head. The male species does not have any hair that exposes the naked horns.
We were driving and saw water bills in the Tarangire river. They are small in number with many groups and enjoy the water around them. We can see two of them testing the power of their horns. The roof opens as well giving a nice wide angle view of the park landscape and game drive. There were some ostriches also like on the road side grazing on the grass. Males are black in color while females are gray in color. It is very interesting to know all these minute random details from our guide about different varieties.
It looked like we were the only ones driving but we saw another safari vehicle parked at the curb. This is a general indication of either the visual or the expected animal activity. Our boat came to him and he saw a big snake next to a Baobab tree. He was on the move and the vehicles approached him to see the big tusks. I have seen Asian elephants and you can easily distinguish it from its African counterpart with its big ears and big tusks. He was playing with a stick and slowly removed himself. He looks like he has had a mud bath with red soil shining on his big body. We stayed there for a few moments shooting the animal at different angles and observing its activities. After a few minutes he entered the trees with us all losing sight of him.
The next animal we saw was a gazelle that was still beside the road eating fresh grass after winter. They are carnivores in abundance. It is a deer-like animal with shiny golden fur and black markings to differentiate between male and female. One of them flew and would have easily been a few meters away.
Walking further in the park, we saw a family who were skilled crossing the road with young people who had completely protected us. Herbivore animals with false bones meant only for protection. These animals are abundant here and lend their name to this river and national park. They have to kneel down to graze on the grass because of their long legs.
We continued to drive around the park and reached the playground. Each park has a sheltered picnic area where visitors can use clean, sanitary facilities, and seating arrangements for packed lunches. We got off the vehicle and walked around to feel the area with the afternoon being the last one in the joy. We decided to skip lunch this time and explore the mountain-like area with river views and the vast landscape in front of us. There are many super stars in that scene and they seem to be very friendly. I was trying to shoot one in the distance and realized that another one had actually pierced my shoe and the other one on my back. It was very nice to see myself surrounded by such beautiful colored birds and feel close to nature.
After a 20 minute wait, we got back on board for more action. On the way down we saw many rock hyraxes. I am seeing and hearing them for the first time and their vise appearance are great features of the mouse. They have another species of tree hyrax that is only found on trees. We can see the whole area and many families lying on the rocks. They quickly climbed the rocks and hid among them.
The guide started driving towards the park exit (same as the entrance) as we planned to cover Manyara national park also on the same day. On the way back we saw a military eagle with its yellow eyes and a little on its head sitting on one of the tree branches without leaves. The pride with which it sits at the top is noticeable, giving it a great position to view the park. Further forward on a tree we see Griffon vultures which can be seen in large numbers around a hunt. They are also environmental scavengers with their predatory skills. The beaks of both these birds are pointed and the needle tends to tear off any meat attached to the bones. The military eagle is also responsible for opening the corpse.
On some trees is observed a blue cloth tied which is used to catch or kill the Tse Tse fly whose bite can cause burning sickness. These flies look like large houseflies and attack humans and animals. It is also very interesting to listen to all this unique information and understand more closely mother nature which we don’t even pay attention to, leading our heroic city life.
Now we have reached the exit/entry check point to submit the final exit documents. About 5 km further we stopped at a local maasai market to have our lunches. The lunch was full of red meat and I had to survive only on fruit which was also eaten together with gratitude. It has started to rain at this time and we are experiencing all the weather in one day. The place is a small hut with furniture made of goat skin. I was surprised to see a goat skin with hair still attached and used in a pleasant way as a seat. When we are eating, many local people come to sell locally made beads and other things they make. We skipped shopping and started our journey to Manyara National park.
I am always very comfortable with the customized bean bags for our game drives. I have done a lot of searching and reading on the web to find one with the right shape and design. I was very happy with the results and even more happy when the application seemed perfect in those vehicles.
Photos from this national park can be found here.
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