Why Tarangire National Park
- To see African animals in the Wild
- For spectacular views and beautiful surroundings
- Hot air balloon safari
- Stay in interesting and unique lodges
- Broaden your knowledge of animals and conservation efforts
We visited Tanzania in December 2019/January 2020. The first part of our trip was to conquer Kilimanjaro (you can check out our blog on this experience here – https://www.traxplorio.com/climbing-kilimanjaro-an-ultimate-guide/).
This blog is all about the rest of our trip in the beautiful Tanzania, particularly the safaris that we did in Tarangire National Park and at the Ngorongoro Crater. Both of these places are stunning and we saw so many animals it was mind-blowing.
We spent 2 nights at the Rivertrees Country Inn in Arusha before we climbed Kilimanjaro, we then went back there afterwards for one more night and to celebrate our achievement. Rivertrees also very kindly looked after the luggage that we would need for the remainder of our time in Tanzania while we were climbing Kilimanjaro so we wouldn’t need to worry about it. This is a wonderful hotel and a perfect place to stay if you are visiting Arusha.
Tarangire National Park – https://www.tarangiretanzania.com/
We were picked up from the Rivertrees Country Inn in by our guide just after breakfast and set off on our trip to Tarangire National Park. The drive took about 4 hours but the journey took us through Arusha, which is a very large and busy city and we also saw lots of the Tanzanian landscape along the way and so it felt fairly quick.
We arrived in Tarangire and our guide checked us in. While he was doing this we could explore the grounds around the gate a little bit, there were a few shops selling art and gifts, a viewing platform and a lunch area. There were also monkeys everywhere; playing, fighting, and grooming each other and generally just ‘monkeying’ around (sorry!). We were very excited as we had not even gone through the gate yet and we were surrounded by animals!
We had lunch, filled up our water and used the facilities before setting off into the park for our first afternoon of Safari.
Tarangire National Park gets its name from the Tarangire River which crosses through it. This river is the main source of fresh water for wild animals and as a result there are so many to see. Tarangire also has the largest population of elephants in northern Tanzania, so we were very excited about our trip. Of course we wanted to see as many animals as possible but the African Big 5 (elephants, lions, leopards, wildebeest and rhinos) were the ones we really wanted to see in the wild.
Tarangire is also famous for its baobab trees and once we had set off it didn’t take long before we started to see them, they are hard to miss as they are absolutely huge and weird looking, they are really impressive! As we drove through the park we saw herds of impala’s grazing in the shadows of the baobabs and within about 10 minutes we came across our first elephant, it was alone and just casually crossed the road right in front of us. It was such a wonderful experience and they are so beautiful up close and in the wild.
We stayed there for a while taking photos and admiring this magnificent animal when our guide received a message on his radio (the guides share information with each other about animal sightings so that all of the visitors can have the best possible experience). We took off and drove to a spot next to the Tarangire river where there was a whole herd of elephants; there were young elephants and even a tiny baby elephant, it was one of the most wonderful things we have ever seen!
After we had spent enough time watching this herd, we set off again, our guide was fantastic and knew everywhere to go so that we could see as much as possible. He could point out animals from miles away and would then get us closer to them. He even managed to spot a tiny terrapin as we were driving, which to this day we still don’t know how.
We saw giraffes, families of baboons, monkeys, warthogs, impala, eland and so much more, it was an unforgettable day.
Once our days safari had come to an end we set off to where we would be spending the night which was the Ndovu Tented Lodges. This is a lovely place to stay; we could see elephants from the pool area and when we went to bed we could hear lions, which did make us a little nervous! They also have a telescope set up so that you can look up into the night sky. After a delicious dinner we spent quite a lot of time staring up at the moon and seeing what stars and planets we could identify
Tarangire Hot Air Balloon Safari
We woke up very early the next morning – before sunrise – and went straight to the restaurant area for a coffee. We didn’t need to worry about breakfast as this was going to be part of our hot air balloon ride with Adventures Aloft Balloon Safaris
We reached the launch site and it was still very dark, there was more coffee waiting for us as well as some biscuits, we had to sign disclaimers and then watch as the hot air balloon started to fill. The sun was also starting to come up now and it was an absolutely stunning setting.
If you want to see Tarangire, then the best way to do it is from the sky! The scenery and the landscape are so beautiful, plus watching the sunrise from the balloon with champagne is a definite bucket-list moment.
We saw lots of elephant herds and other animals from the sky, and it was so one of the best days of our lives and it wasn’t even 9am yet!
We headed down to the landing zone where the safari jeep was waiting for us and set off for our breakfast; right next to the Tarangire river in the middle of the park. This was another memorable experience; the breakfast was delicious, we had more champagne and were shown all of the photos from our flight which had been taken from both the hot air balloon and the land crew. We also received certificates which was a fun touch.
We were about to head off to Ngorongoro where we would be spending the next couple of days when our safari guide got a call to say a lion had been spotted, we made a slight detour and headed off along the dirt road to a small clearing.
This was the first time that any of us had ever seen a lion in the wild and it was unreal! This poor lion had a nasty injury to its face though which made us all want to get out and pet him (we didn’t!) The lion sat there and looked straight at us, completely unfazed as we took photos and watched him an awe. As we were snapping this lion, we hadn’t noticed that there was also another one nearby who strolled right past our jeep. That was quite a moment!
We felt incredibly lucky as we left Tarangire and set off to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area.
The Ngorongoro Crater – https://www.ngorongorocrater.org/
We stayed at Rhotia Valley http://www.rhotiavalley.com/ during our time in Ngorongoro and we would definitely recommend it. Not only is at a Lodge with amazing food, views, facilities and staff, but it also has a children’s home on site where they care for orphans from the local community.
We arrived at Rhotia Valley and checked in, it was quite late in the afternoon and so we all went to the beautiful pool, enjoyed the views, and relaxed before dinner.
The following day we were picked up and drove to the Ngorongoro Crater itself. The Ngorongoro Crater is a protected area and a World Heritage Site. It is the world’s largest inactive, unbroken and unfilled volcanic caldera. The crater was formed when a large volcano exploded and collapsed on itself two to three million years ago, it is 610 meters (2,000 feet) deep and its floor covers 260 square kilometers (100 square miles).
Again we had to check in to the park and then we started ascending the crater wall until we got to a viewing platform which looked out over the whole crater and it is one of the most spectacular places we have ever seen. You literally can see for miles. We continued to drive until we reached one final checkpoint, and toilet stop. At this stop there was also an elephant waiting for us right by the sign for the park; it almost felt staged!
The Ngorongoro Crater is so full of wildlife, if you want to go on safari and be guaranteed to see animals, then this is the place to go. One of the first animals we saw was a hyena, we had not expected to see one at all and so we were quite shocked.
We also saw lots of lions which all seemed keen to find shade, so when we pulled up next to them they would quite literally come and lie in the shade of our jeep, not even one meter away from us…this was incredible and also really quite scary. The lions were so beautiful and had no fear at all (and why should they?) seeing them like this in the wild is really the most magical experience.
The most special moment for us was however was when we saw a black rhino…yes we actually saw a rhino in the wild, albeit from a great distance and through binoculars. We had not expected to see a rhino at all, and seeing one almost brought tears to our eyes. There are currently only 26 rhinos in the Ngorongoro Crater and so we felt very lucky.
We also saw wildebeest, more elephants, hippos, flamingos, zebra, and so much more.
The only animal that we didn’t see which we would have loved to spot was the very elusive leopard, so we might just have to go back one day to see if we can tick this final animal off our African Big 5 List.
- Take a strong insect repellent, we were eaten alive by horse flies and mosquitoes during both safari’s.
- Take a decent camera with a good zoom, we took all our pictures on our phones but wish we had had a better quality camera for the animals which were further away.
- Wear comfy light weight clothes, it can get very warm but long sleeves and trouser legs are a good idea to keep away the bugs.