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Tanzania National Parks

Tarangire National Park

Tarangire National Park is famous for its huge number of elephants, giant Baobab trees and tree climbing lions. You can expect to see any number of resident giraffe, zebra, wildebeest and other antelope as well as less common animals including leopard. The Tarangire River is a consistent feeding vein for the area, attracting an enormous amount of animals during the dry season. Home to more than 550 species, the park is a haven for bird enthusiasts who can expect so see dozens of species. The swamps are the focus of the largest selection of breeding birds anywhere in the world.

Serengeti National Park

Serengeti National Park is Tanzania’s most famous national park and one of the most spectacular parks in the world. It is home to the famous wildebeest migration that takes place annually between May and July. The endless plains include infinite, almost treeless grassland dotted with rock kopjes (which large prides of lions love to sun on) and is most characteristic of the park, as well as open woodlands, swampy savannah and the mighty Grumeti River – home to enormous Nile crocodiles, hippos, Colobus monkey, and the martial eagle. The Serengeti holds the largest population of lions in Africa due to the abundance of prey species in addition to great herds of buffalo, smaller groups of elephant, giraffe, and thousands upon thousands of eland, topi, kongoni, impala and Grant’s gazelle.

Saadani National Park

About 70km north of Bagamoyo along a lovely stretch of coastline, and directly opposite Zanzibar Island, is tiny Saadani, a 1000-sq-km patch of coastal wilderness. Unpretentious and relaxing, it bills itself as one of the few spots in the country where you can enjoy the beach and watch wildlife at the same time. It’s easily accessed from both Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar Island as an overnight excursion.

While terrestrial wildlife-watching opportunities are modest, animals are definitely present. In addition to hippos and crocodiles, it’s quite likely that you’ll see giraffes, and elephant sightings are increasingly common. With luck, you may also see Lichtenstein’s hartebeests, and even lions, although these are more difficult to spot. Birding is very good.

Ruaha National Park

Ruaha National Park is the largest national park in Tanzania. The addition of the Usangu Game Reserve and other important wetlands to the park in 2008 increased its size to about 20,226 square kilometres (7,809 sq mi), making it the largest park in Tanzania and East Africa.

The park is about 130 kilometres (81 mi) west of Iringa. The park is a part of the 45,000 square kilometres (17,000 sq mi) Rungwa-Kizigo-Muhesi ecosystem, which includes the Rungwa Game Reserve, the Kizigo and Muhesi Game Reserves, and the Mbomipa Wildlife Management Area.

The name of the park is derived from the Great Ruaha River, which flows along its southeastern margin and is the focus for game-viewing. The park can be reached by car on a dirt road from Iringa and there are two airstrips – Msembe airstrip at Msembe (park headquarters), and Jongomeru Airstrip, near the Jongomeru Ranger Post.

Lake Manyara National Park

Lake Manyara National Park is famous for the flamingos that inhabit its shimmering waters. Rising above the Manyara is the Gregory Rift Wall on the edge of the Rift Valley, which is part of the Great Escarpment that stretches from Ethiopia to the heart of Zambia. It’s lined; steep walls rise above thick forest dotted with giant Baobab trees, up towards the African sky.

During the wet season flamingo inhabit the edges of the lake in flocks of thousands but they are not so present during the dry season. More than 400 species of birds inhabit the park with many remaining throughout the year, so you can expect to see upwards of 100 different species at any given time. Leopards, lions, elephants, blue monkeys, antelope, gazelle, hippo, giraffe (and much more wildlife) also inhabit the park throughout the year. At the hippo pond you can stretch your legs and observe them from a safe distance. The leopards and lions are both known to sprawl in trees when not hunting for prey.

Its ground water forests, bush plains, Baobab-strewn cliffs, and algae-streaked hot springs offer incredible ecological variety in a small area, rich in wildlife.

Katavi National Park

Katavi National Park, Tanzania’s third largest national park (4471 km²), is the heart of one of the biggest and richest wildlife areas in Tanzania. Located along the rift escarpment in western Tanzania, it offers incredible scenery including immense wetlands, roaring waterfalls and original miombo woodlands, where the Sable antelopes often hide. During the dry season, huge herds of buffalo, zebras and impalas gather with elephants, waterbucks and duikers around the drying water reserves of Lake Katavi and Lake Chada.

You can also observe many animals along the remaining pools of the Katuma river which are bursting with hippos and crocodiles. Here, at these remaining water sources, the lions, leopards and wild dogs can be found searching for their prey, watched by patiently waiting vultures which share the trees with fish eagles, storks and vervet monkeys. As soon as the first rains start, Katavi transforms again into a flowering paradise with enormous swamps, lakes, rivers and waterfalls, attracting an incredible diversity of bird life.

Gombe Stream National Park

Gombe Stream National Park is located in western Kigoma Region, Tanzania, 10 miles (20 km) north of Kigoma, the capital of Kigoma Region. Established in 1968, Gombe is the smallest national park in Tanzania, with only 20 square miles (52 km2) of forest running along the hills of the eastern shore of Lake Tanganyika. The terrain is distinguished by steep valleys, and the forest vegetation ranges from grassland to alpine bamboo to tropical rainforest. Accessible only by boat, the park is most famous as the location where Jane Goodall pioneered her behavioral research conducted on the chimpanzee populations. The Kasakela chimpanzee community, featured in several books and documentaries, lives in Gombe Stream National Park.

Gombe Stream’s high levels of diversity make it an increasingly popular tourist destination. Besides chimpanzees, primatesinhabiting Gombe Stream include beachcomber olive baboons, red colobus, red-tailed monkeys, blue monkeys, and vervet monkeys. Red-tailed monkeys and blue monkeys have also been known to hybridize in the area. The park is also home to over 200 bird species and bushpigs. There are also 11 species of snakes, and occasional hippopotami and leopards. Visitors to the park can trek into the forest to view the chimpanzees, as well as swim and snorkel in Lake Tanganyika with almost 100 kinds of colorful cichlid fish.

Arusha National Park

Arusha National Park covers Mount Meru, a prominent volcano with an elevation of 4566 m, in the Arusha Region of north eastern Tanzania. The park is small but varied with spectacular landscapes in three distinct areas. In the west, the Meru Crater funnels the Jekukumia River; the peak of Mount Meru lies on its rim. Ngurdoto Crater in the south-east is grassland. The shallow alkaline Momella Lakes in the north-east have varying algal colours and are known for their wading birds.

Mount Meru is the second highest peak in Tanzania after Mount Kilimanjaro, which is just 60 km away and forms a backdrop to views from the park to the east. Arusha National Park lies on a 300-kilometre axis of Africa’s most famous national parks, running from Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater in the west to Kilimanjaro National Park in the east.

The park is just a few kilometres north east of Arusha, though the main gate is 25 km east of the city. It is also 58 km from Moshiand 35 km from Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA).

Ngorongoro Crater

Ngorongoro Crater is a conservation area and a UNESCO World Heritage Site located 180 km (110 mi) west of Arusha in the Crater Highlands area of Tanzania. Ngorongoro Crater is a large volcanic caldera recognized as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa, abundant with game including elephants, rhinos, cheetahs, lions, leopards, and hyenas. The Crater is home to about 25,000 animals and is one of the last places in Tanzania where the Big Five can still be seen together, in numbers. The original volcano was probably as high as or higher than Kilimanjaro. The surrounding Ngorongoro Conservation Area is also internationally renowned as a ‘Biosphere Reserve’. It is a unique conservation area – where wildlife and the environment are protected, whilst the local Maasai are still allowed to live and continue their traditional, pastoral lifestyle.

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