The closest national park to Arusha town – northern Tanzania’s safari capital – Arusha National Park is a multi-faceted jewel, often overlooked by safarigoers, despite offering the opportunity to explore a beguiling diversity of habitats within a few hours.
Tanzania contains 20% of the species of Africa’s large mammal population, found across its reserves, conservation areas, marine parks, and 17 national parks, spread over an area of more than 42,000 square kilometers (16,000 sq mi) and forming approximately 38% of the country’s territory.
Wildlife resources of Tanzania are described as “without parallel in Africa” and “the prime game viewing country”. Serengeti National Park, the country’s second largest national park area at 14,763 square kilometers (5,700 sq mi), is located in northern Tanzania and is famous for its extensive migratory herds of wildebeests and zebra while also having the reputation as one of the great natural wonders of the world. The Ngorongoro Conservation Area, established in 1959, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and inhabited by the Maasai (tribe) people. Its Ngorongoro Crater is the largest intact caldera in the world.
The national parks are also part of the wetlands of Tanzania. The wild animals tend to be closer to the wetlands, particularly the water loving species such as the hippopotamus, waterbuck, common warthog, elephant, crocodile, sitatunga as well as water birds such as flamingoes and ducks.
The faunal diversity of wild life in Tanzania in its national parks and game reserves is amazing. There are 310 mammal species (fourth largest in Africa); 960 species of birds (third place in Africa); and many amphibians and reptiles, which are stated to form the fourth largest population in Africa. The endangered fauna species are; the black rhino; Uluguru bushshrikes; hawksbill, green turtles, olive ridley turtle and leatherback turtles; red colobus monkeys; wild dogs; and Pemba flying foxes.
Size: 552 sq km (212 sq miles)
Location: Northern Tanzania, northeast of Arusha town.
The entrance gate leads into shadowy montane forest inhabited by inquisitive blue monkeys and colourful turacos and trogons – the only place on the northern safari circuit where the acrobatic black-and-white colobus monkey is easily seen. In the midst of the forest stands the spectacular Ngurdoto Crater, whose steep, rocky cliffs enclose a wide marshy floor dotted with herds of buffalo and warthog.
Further north, rolling grassy hills enclose the tranquil beauty of the Momela Lakes, each one a different hue of green or blue. Their shallows sometimes tinged pink with thousands of flamingos, the lakes support a rich selection of resident and migrant waterfowl, and shaggy waterbucks display their large lyre-shaped horns on the watery fringes. Giraffes glide across the grassy hills, between grazing zebra herds, while pairs of wide-eyed dik-dik dart into scrubby bush like overgrown hares on spindly legs.
Although elephants are uncommon in Arusha National Park, and lions absent altogether, leopards and spotted hyenas may be seen slinking around in the early morning and late afternoon. It is also at dusk and dawn that the veil of cloud on the eastern horizon is most likely to clear, revealing the majestic snow-capped peaks of Kilimanjaro, only 50km (30 miles) distant.
But it is Kilimanjaro’s unassuming cousin, Mount Meru – the fifth highest in Africa at 4,566 metres (14,990 feet) – that dominates the park’s horizon. Its peaks and eastern footslopes protected within the national park, Meru offers unparalleled views of its famous neighbour, while also forming a rewarding hiking destination in its own right.
Passing first through wooded savannah where buffalos and giraffes are frequently encountered, the ascent of Meru leads into forests aflame with red-hot pokers and dripping with Spanish moss, before reaching high open heath spiked with giant lobelias. Everlasting flowers cling to the alpine desert, as delicately-hoofed klipspringers mark the hike’s progress. Astride the craggy summit, Kilimanjaro stands unveiled, blushing in the sunrise.
Best Time To Visit:
The Park can be visited throughout the year, however the weather is best between June and February. Short rains are usually in November.
Lake Manyara National Park
Located in the northern part of Tanzania, Lake Manyara National Park is 126 kilometers west of Arusha Town. The park is sized 330 square kilometers of which 220 sq kilometers form a lake when the water levels become high in the rainy season. Alternating to the nearest Park of Tarangire National Park through the kwakuchinja corridor the parks share world animals. They can be seen easily nearby the roads towards Lake Manyara and Serengeti National parks.
The game in Lake Manyara includes plenty of elephants, wildebeest along with so many giraffes, and buffalo. The numbers are very famous in terms of the zebras, impala, warthog and waterbuck. On the slopes of the escarpment, you may need to search a little hard for the tinny and renowned shy kirk’s dik dik and klipspringer.
A good habitat for lions among Manyara’s healthy lion family that are popular for their tree climbing character is made perfect by the broken forests and escarpment. Often widely regarded as Africa’s largest, huge troops of baboons which often number as hundreds are immediately definite to most of the guests.
The life of the birds here is exceptionary differing as regards to the habitants.Often; you will be able to see flocks of pelicans and pink shading of distant flamingoes in the middle of the lake. Amongst the margins and floodplains, feeding so many egrets, stilts erons, spoonbills, stalks and other waders. The woodlands equally yield with the so much water around. But the more interesting species will be viewed in the evergreen forests; for example, crowned eagles, crested guinea fowl and the silvery cheeked hornbills.
Best time to visit:
The park can be accessed throughout the year. However, June to October is the best time for large mammals and November to July is ideal time for bird watching.
Serengeti National Park
Size: The park covers 14,750 square kilometres (5,700 sq mi).
Location: The park lies in northwestern Tanzania, bordered to the north by the Kenyan border, where it is continuous with the Maasai Mara National Reserve.
Serengeti National Park, in northern Tanzania, is known for its massive annual migration of wildebeest and zebra. Seeking new pasture, the herds move north from their breeding grounds in the grassy southern plains. Many cross the marshy western corridor’s crocodile-infested Grumeti River. Others veer northeast to the Lobo Hills, home to black eagles. Black rhinos inhabit the granite outcrops of the Moru Kopjes.
Over 2 million migrating animals participate in this annual journey: 1.5 million wildebeest, 400,000 zebra, and 300,000 gazelles, accompanied by a variety of predators. The herds traverse the 1,800 mile (2,900 km) oval circuit with only one goal: to find fresh, green grass.
Best time to visit:
The Serengeti Migration is more than just a journey of wildlife: it is the opportunity to observe the circle of life in action. It’s actually a year-round event; you just need to know where to look! The question to ask when planning your safari is really about the “best places” to see the migrating herds during your time of travel.
Tarangire National Park
Size: 2,850 square kilometers (1,100 square miles.)
Location: Tarangire National Park can be reached via paved road south from Arusha in under two hours. lies around 100km to the south of the Serengeti in Northern Tanzania
the sixth largest national park in Tanzania, it is located in Manyara Region. The name of the park originates from the Tarangire River that crosses the park.
The park is famous for its high density of elephants and baobab trees. Visitors to the park in the June to November dry season can expect to see large herds of thousands of zebra, wildebeest and cape buffalo. Other common resident animals include waterbuck, giraffe, dik dik, impala, eland, Grant’s gazelle, vervet monkey, banded mongoose, and olive baboon. Predators in Tarangire include African lion, leopard, cheetah, caracal, honey badger, and African wild dog.
Best time to visit:
Tarangire is one of the few places in Africa where elephants can sometimes be seen in herds of 300 or more, and lion are quite common, especially during the dry season roughly from July–October.
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