5 Things An Animal Needs To Survive In Its Habitat Trip Report For Tarangire National Park Safari in Tanzania

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Trip Report For Tarangire National Park Safari in Tanzania

It was an extremely exciting day as I was living my dream of visiting Africa on safari. The whole thought of experiencing the National Geographic and Discovery channels live was thrilling to the core.

The first day was safari and game drive in Tarangire national park located 120 km south-west of Arusha city. It took us 3 hours to reach the park, where the last 5 km had no roads, probably making the visitors used to not having roads inside the park. The guide did all the paperwork for us to enter the park premises.

On the way we had passed the Arusha airport, which looked more like a private airport due to its size and proximity to the road with moving vehicles. We also passed by a large expanse of grassland and random trees. It rained a little, saturating the colors of the environment. The road had many steep ups and downs but the powerful safari vehicles had no problem navigating these terrains. When we got inside the park, our guides gave us simple instructions:

  • Do not feed the animals
  • Do not litter
  • Do not get out of the vehicle at any time as walking is not allowed

At all times inside the park you must stay firmly in the safari vehicle. We arrived at the park at 10am with packed lunches. It is a regular way of safari walks with picnic lunches to ensure that the whole day is spent on game without returning to lodges/camps for food. The driver is a trained staff who has to take care of many things along with driving and watching the animals.

Some of the details of the national park he shared were:

  1. Tarangire is national park gazetteer number 197.
  2. It is located on a surface of 2580 km2.
  3. The park takes its name from the Tarangire River which flows through it.
  4. The word Tarangire means river of warthogs because of the large warthog population in this park.

Each national park has something unique, baobab trees and herd elephants to Tarangire. The trunks of these elephants are massive and their population is also large within this park.

After the instructions and information were shared and we were running to get inside, the guide opened the full roof for the best possible view. The windows are large enough to see out, but can sometimes limit the view of the landscape. Once the roof was up, it was just beautiful with big open pastures and eyes hunting for wildlife. Driving another 500 meters and we were officially within the boundaries of Tarangire National Park. There were only muddy roads, but the ride didn’t seem bumpy yet. Our first sight was a mound of termites. Termites and other ants are an extremely important part of the ecosystem and the best cleaners on planet earth. They travel in the army and ensure that after a kill nothing is left to linger or pollute the environment.

There were open grasslands along with trees including the unique Baobab tree. It is a wide hollow trunk with small branches and few leaves. It is also jokingly referred to as if the tree is planted upside down with its roots visible instead of the actual branches. This tree has natural holes inside its trunk for hunters to hide and animals to rest. The first animal seen was a giraffe quietly grazing on the yellowbark acacia, which is an extremely tall thorny tree and also a giraffe favorite. The tongue rotates in one direction to prevent any piercing by the tree and then swallowed by the animal. A female giraffe can be identified by having visible horn hairs on her head. The male species has no hairs that expose the bare horns.

We were driving and saw money with water in the Tarangire River. They were few in number in large groups and enjoyed the water around them. We could see 2 of them testing the strength of their horns. The open roof gives good wide-angle views of the park’s scenery and game movement. There were also some ostriches seen on the side of the road grazing on the grass. Males are black in color while females are gray. It was very interesting to get to know all these little random details from our guide about different species.

We seemed to be the only ones driving, but we spotted another safari vehicle stationary at a bend in the road. This is generally an indication of either a sighting or expected wildlife activity. Our vehicle reached it and saw a giant herd near a Baobab tree. It started moving and the vehicles came closer to see the big herds. I have also seen Asian elephants and can easily tell the difference of its African counterpart with larger ears and larger tusks. He was playing with a tree and relieving his itchy body. She seemed to have a mud bath of red earth shining on her large body. We stayed there for some time shooting the animal from different angles and observing its activities. After a few moments he went into the trees with all of us losing sight.

The next animal seen was the gazelle which was also near the road grazing on fresh grass after the monsoon season. They are the ones that are hunted in abundance by carnivores. It is a deer-like animal with golden silky fur and a black stripe to distinguish a male from a female. One of them jumped and would easily have been a few feet away.

Maneuvering further into the park, we saw a family of warblers crossing the road with the youngsters fully secured by us. Herbivores with false tufts intended only for protection. These animals are abundant here and give their name to the river and this national park. They have to kneel down to feed on grass because of their long legs.

We continued to drive through the playground and reached the picnic area. Each park has a dedicated picnic area provided, where visitors can use clean sparkling bathroom facilities, seating arrangements for packed lunches. We got out of the vehicle and walked around to get a feel for the surroundings with lunch the last priority. We decided to skip lunch at this point and explored the area which looked like a hilltop region overlooking the river and larger landscape ahead. There were many brilliant stars in that place and they seemed extremely friendly. I was trying to shoot one at a distance and realized that another one was literally attached to my shoe and another to my back. It was extremely beautiful to see myself surrounded by birds of such beautiful colors and to feel closeness to nature.

After a 20 minute layover, we headed back to the vehicle for some more action. Going down we saw many rock hyraxes. I saw and heard them for the first time and they look like bigger versions of the mouse. They have another type of hyrax tree that is only found in trees. We could see a whole community and many families lying on the rocks. They were quick at climbing rocks and hiding inside them.

The guide now started moving towards the exit of the park (same as the entrance) as we had planned to cover Manyara national park also on the same day. On the way back we saw the war eagle with yellow eyes and a slight crest on its head sitting on one of the branches of the leafless tree. The arrogance with which he was perched on top was evident, giving him a great position to view the park. Further on in a tree we saw griffon vultures which can be seen in great numbers around a hunt. They are also environmental cleaners with their cleaning abilities. The beaks of both these birds are sharp and the goshawk likes to tear through any flesh attached to the bones. The war eagle is also responsible for opening the corpse.

On some trees we noticed a blue cloth tied which is used to collect or kill the Tse Tse fly, whose bite can cause sleeping sickness. These flies look like large houseflies and attack humans and animals. It was again so interesting to hear all this unique information and understand more closely the mother nature that we don’t even pay attention to, leading our wild city life.

We had now arrived at the park entry/exit check point to submit the final exit documents. Maybe 5km ahead we stopped at a local Maasai market area to eat our packed lunches. Lunch was full of red meat and I had to survive only on fruit which thankfully was packed together. By this time it had started to rain and we were experiencing all the weather in one day. The place was a small hut with chairs made of goat skin. I was amazed to see the full goatskin with the hair still attached and interestingly used as a cushion for the seat of the chair. During our meal, many locals came to sell locally made beaded garlands and other handicrafts. We skipped shopping and started our journey to Manyara national park.

I always felt very comfortable with the beanbags we had customized for our game drives. I had done a lot of research and reading on the web to find one with the right design and shape. I was quite pleased with the results and even happier when the handling looked flawless on those vehicles.

Photos from this national park can be found here.

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