Herds of up to 300 elephants scratch the dry river bed for underground streams, while migratory wildebeest, zebra, buffalo, impala, gazelle, hartebeest and eland crowd the shrinking lagoons in the dry season. Tarangire is the greatest concentration of wildlife outside the Serengeti ecosystem – a smorgasbord for predators, and the one place in Tanzania where dry-country antelope such as the stately fringe-eared oryx and the unique long-necked Gerenuk are regularly observed.

During the rainy season, the seasonal wildlife scatter over a 20,000 sq km (12,500 sq miles) range until they exhaust the green plains and the river calls once more. But Tarangire’s mobs of elephant are easily encountered whether its the wet or dry season.

The swamps, tinged green year round, are the focus for 550 bird varieties, the most breeding species in one habitat anywhere in the world.

On drier ground you find the Kori bustard, Africa’s heaviest flying bird; the stocking-thighed ostrich, the world’s largest bird; and small parties of fire red ground hornbills blustering like turkeys.

More ardent bird-lovers should keep an eye open for screeching flocks of the dazzlingly colourful yellow-collared lovebirds, and the somewhat drabber rufous-tailed weaver and ashy starling – all endemic to the dry savannah of north-central Tanzania.

Disused termite mounds are often frequented by colonies of the endearing dwarf mongoose, and pairs of colourful red-and-yellow barbet, which draw attention to themselves by their loud, clockwork-like duetting.

Tarangire’s pythons climb trees, as do its lions and leopards, lounging in the branches where the fruit of the sausage tree disguises the twitch of a tail.

About Tarangire National Park

Size: 2850 sq km (1,096 sq miles).

Location: 118 km (75 miles) southwest of Arusha.

Getting there:

Easy drive from Arusha or Lake Manyara following a surfaced road to within 7km (four miles) of the main entrance gate, which continues on to Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti. Charter flights are available from Dar es Salaam, Arusha and the Serengeti.

What to do:

Guided walking safaris.

Day trips to Maasai and ‘Barabaig’ villages, as well as to the hundreds of ancient rock paintings in the vicinity of Kolo on the Dodoma Road.

Accommodation:

Gladiola Adventure Safari and Tours Ltd can arrange for you to stay at a lodge, tented lodge, or a luxury tented camp inside the park. There are a further 6 exclusive lodges and tented camps immediately outside the parks borders.

Several camp sites in and around the park.