Firstly, we’d like to say thankyou to the following people of the Trip Advisor community who answered our posts and provided valuable information, feedback and suggestions for our journey………..Mfuwe, noexpert, 4sandi, idiotsabroad, quiltingmamma, ShepofBristol, Id and Judy D. Very much appreciated!
Also we’d like to apologise for the much delayed review – we travelled in August 2013 – still, hopefully our information can help others. We’ve provided our review as a series of instalments and there are also separate reviews posted on Trip Advisor regarding the camps, attractions and our tour operator. The focus in this trip report is about what we saw in terms of wildlife and the areas we visited.
DAY 1: ARRIVAL & TARANGIRE NATIONAL PARK
We arrived in Tanzania from Rwanda, where we had journeyed to trek the Gorillas. We flew from Kigali airport in Rwanda, with Coastal Aviation to Mwanza in Tanzania. We then flew on from Mwanza with Coastal via Saskawa, Kogatende and Seronera before arriving at Lake Manyara airstrip at 11.30am. We were warmly met by Roy Safaris and our guide/driver for the next 9 days, Evagry, who started our safari off on a positive note, by taking us to a lookout point over Lake Manyara, where we were able to get an overall impression of the vastness of the Lake. Next we stopped for lunch at Tarangire Safari Lodge, which was suggested to us by Roy Safaris whilst finalising our itinerary – and a good suggestion it was! We had been up since 4am that morning and the tasty lunch and cold beers taken in the open dining area was very relaxing. The lodge has a huge outdoor viewing area, which looks out over Tarangire National Park and we took a brief moment to sit and watch elephants below and absorb the spectacular view. The lodge itself is quite large in terms of accommodation and sits within the park, not too far a drive from the National Park gate.
Following lunch, we drove to Oliver’s Camp, which is located deep within Tarangire National Park. We stayed for three nights at this camp. The further south we drove into the park, the less day trippers we saw and the more wildlife we encountered. That evening at 6.30pm, we set off on a night drive, which we had booked prior. As Tarangire is a NP, safari is confined to the roads, which makes it more challenging to see animals. However, we saw an African Wildcat, Dik Diks, Verreaux’s Eagle Owl, Elephants, White Tailed Mongoose and the most exciting was a Gerenuk, standing upright on its back legs, feeding from a tree. Our night drive also included a star-gazing session, which was superb. The night sky was simply overflowing with stars and our fantastic camp guide, Lewis was very informative and identified many constellations.
DAY 2: TARANGIRE NATIONAL PARK
This morning we had an early breakfast and left camp at 7.30am for a walking safari. Our camp guides were Lewis, who was terrific fun and has a sensational personality and Julius, who is a Hadzabe tribesman. We drove out some distance from camp and then the vehicle left us. We took our own backpacks, hat, sunscreen, snacks etc and the camp provided us with excellent water bottles (metal in canvas holders, with straps that you can sling over your shoulder). During our walk we were shown all types of scat: Impala, Elephant, Cape Buffalo etc – which believe it or not, is really interesting. We tracked some lions for some time and it was good to watch how Lewis did this and what signs he followed. We identified tracks such as Antelope and Cheetah and came across massive mud pools, which had been shaped by Elephants. Vegetation and trees were another focus and we saw wild basil and many acacia trees which had been pushed over by elephants. Amazingly, Lewis and Julius took branches from these trees, stripped them, separated the inner strands which are like fine rope, wove them together and made bracelets for us!
We got quite close to a group of Elephants, but unfortunately, the breeze kept alerting them to our presence. After 3 hours we walked back into camp. The walk with Lewis and Julius was a great experience and a different way to spend a morning and we would recommend this if you have the opportunity.
On arrival back at camp, we had some very cold Gin & Tonics (even though it was early – but we were on holiday!) and then sat and watched the fantastic birdlife that occurs right in the main area of the camp. Opposite the lounge area, there is a small birdbath and we saw very colourful birds such as the Red Cheeked Cordon-Bleu and the Red Billed Fire-Finch. Even outside our tent we found a Cardinal Woodpecker working on his tree each day and we saw many Striped Skinks.
Later that day we went out on an afternoon safari and the light at this time of day was perfect for photography. Tarangire is renowned for its large herds of elephants and it did not disappoint. The elephants in this park are really splendid examples, from gorgeous babies’ right up to very large bulls with their long white tusks, made all the whiter against their dark skin, which they have trumpeted red dust over. They really look spectacular. Combine this with the park itself, which provides a deep rich long grassy green back-drop for the elephants to slowly wander through, as they make their way down to the blue water, framed by the mountains in the distance. We’d recommend going to this area about 4.30pm and toward sunset for beautiful viewing and photography.
That evening we went out on another game drive and this time saw seven Lions, Striped Hyena, Spotted Hyena, a large herd of Cape Buffalo, Dik Diks, an injured Impala, Serval, White-Tailed Mongoose, African Wild Cat and more Elephants.
DAY 3: TARANGIRE NATIONAL PARK
Today we left camp at 6.30am and made our way to the southernmost end of the park and slowly worked our way back during the morning. Many people don’t venture to this area and we did not see any other vehicles for the entire morning. The wildlife was relatively scarce in numbers on the day, but we did see many beautiful things: Giraffe, Zebra, Impala, Elephants, Warthog, Cape Buffalo, Hartebeest, Waterbuck, Gazelle, Side striped Jackal, Bat Eared Fox and many fantastic birds: Ostrich, Goliath Heron, Marabou Storks, African Jacana, Blacksmith Plover, Crowned Plover etc.
DAY 4: TARANGIRE NATIONAL PARK TO LAKE MANYARA
Today we departed Oliver’s Camp at 7.30am with our objective being to focus on the swamps and Tarangire River, as we made our way through the northern end of the park to the exit gate and onwards to Lake Manyara. Our findings included Egyptian Geese, Hamerkop and its very large nest, Ground Hornbill, Knob billed duck, Helmeted Guinea Fowl, Yellow-Necked Spurfowl, Lilac Breasted Roller, Hoopoe, Monitor Lizard and Dwarf Mongoose.
It should also be noted that the trees throughout the park were quite stunning: Baobab, Yellow Barked Acacia (Fever Tree), Flat Topped Acacia, Whistling Acacia, Sausage Tree, Candelabra Tree.
TARANGIRE NP SUMMARY
While we saw only one male lion during daylight hours, we saw a good range of different wildlife – both large and small. Given that it’s a NP you are restricted to driving on the roads only. However, if your focus for visiting is to see impressive elephants in large numbers and a wide range of other animals in a beautiful environment, then you certainly won’t be disappointed.