With Arusha as starting point the wildlife areas from here to Lake Victoria are the most visited in Tanzania. Everyone knows the documentaries of the world famous Serengeti NP. Other jewel is the Ngorongoro,with incredible density of game.
Maybe less known , but certainly well worth a visit : Tarangire NP and Lake Manyara NP. Both in the Rift valley, each have their own unique sights.
Last but not least : Arusha NP. A nice park to start to acclimatise.
Covering an area of 14,763 sq. km, Serengeti National Park is the second largest National Park in Tanzania after Ruaha. The park is located some 320 km to the northwest of Arusha, lying in a high plateau between the Ngorongoro highlands and the Kenya/ Tanzania border, and extending almost to Lake Victoria to the west. Aptly named “endless plains” by the Maasai people, you immediately experience this vastness as you enter the southeastern plains of the park from Ngorongoro.
Declared a protected area in 1921 and gazetted as a National park in 1951, Serengeti is the oldest National Park in Tanzania and undoubtedly one of the most famous wildlife sanctuaries in the world. The principal features of the Serengeti are the short and long grass plains in the south and east, the acacia Savannah in the central areas, the hilly and densely wooded areas in the north and the extensive woodland in the west.
There is a variety of scenery, which include the plains, lakes, hills and the rock outcrops called kopjes which you can even explore by horseback. The main game drive areas in the Serengeti are the Seronera Valley, the Western Corridor, and Lobo or northern Serengeti. The Seronera valley in central Serengeti endowed with permanent surface water attract a large concentration of wildlife throughout the year. Common animals that can be seen here are lions, buffaloes, impalas, hippos, waterbucks, elephants, cheetahs and the leopard. From December, when the long rains start, to May, eastern Serengeti plains provide the best opportunities for game viewing as hundreds of thousands of the migratory animals are concentrated in this part attracted by the short palatable grass.
Between May and July, when drought sets in, Serengeti is the site of one of the most breathtaking events in the animal kingdom – the migration of thousands of wildebeest heading southwest, north or west in search of water and greener pastures. The Lobo area remains rich in wildlife during the dry months of August to November when most of the game has moved from the grass plains in the south. This is also true of the Western Corridor towards Lake Victoria when the migration usually lingers in the area between June and July. Serengeti provides sanctuary to the highest concentration of plains animals in the world. Survey estimates indicate an animal population of over 4 million including 3,000 lions, 1,600,000 wildebeest, 300,000 Thomson‘s and Grant‘s gazelle, 500,000 zebras. There are over 400 species of birds in the Serengeti.
A UNESCO protected World Heritage Site and an International Biosphere Reserve, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area is situated some 190 km. west of Arusha, between Lake Manyara and Serengeti National Parks. Covering approximately 8,292 square km, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area consists of the Ngorongoro Crater itself, the Olduvai Gorge and Ndutu, the Empakai crater and the Oldonyo Lengai Mountain.
The Ngorongoro Conservation Area is a pioneering experiment in multi-purpose land use where people (the Maasai), their livestock and wildlife coexist and share the same protected habitat. Wild animals are protected as in the National Parks.
The craters of Ngorongoro and Empakai are reserved exclusively for wildlife, while wildlife, people and livestock share the rest of the Conservation Area. The Maasai, the main residents of Ngorongoro, are pastoralists who move widely with their herds of cattle, sheep, goat and donkeys in search of pasture and water. In recent years, the Maasai have been encouraged to work on the land and supplement their traditional diet of milk and meat.
The Ngorongoro Crater, which is the central attraction in the area, is the largest Caldera in the world that has its walls intact. The Ngorongoro Crater floor, a sheer drop of 610 metres below the crater rim, has an area of 304 sq. km, with a diameter of 19 km. The sight of the Ngorongoro Crater is simply stunning. “It is impossible to give a fair description of the size and beauty of the Crater, for there is nothing with which one can compare it. It is one of the Wonders of the World…” once wrote Professor Bernhard Grzimek.
The crater floor is home to tens of thousands of plains animals, including wildebeest, zebra, gazelles, elands, and a large predator population of lions, hyena and jackal which can all be viewed at close quarters. The rare black rhino can be viewed here, and if you are lucky you can see cheetah and leopard. The rainy season is between November and May. The altitude at the crater rim is about 2286 metres above sea level, and temperatures can get quite chilly in the evening, especially between May to September.
Ndutu is located in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, in the southeastern plains of the Serengeti ecosystem. The plains around Ndutu are the main holding ground for migratory animals where vast herds congregate and linger for more than four months, from December to April, before they start moving across the Serengeti in search of greener pastures and water. Ndutu area forms an important part of the Serengeti ecosystem, in particular the short grass plains which provide calving grounds for wildebeest and other migratory animals
Tarangire National Park lies 120 km south of Arusha, along The Great North Road highway, and is very popular for day trips from the town. Tarangire offers a wide variety of wildlife in its area of 2,850 sq. km. As in all ecosystems, the vegetation and the types of animals you find are closely correlated. The principal features of the park are the flood plains and the grassland, mainly comprising of various types of acacia trees, and a few scattered baobabs, tamarind and the sausage trees.
The Tarangire River, after which the park is named, provides the only permanent water for wildlife in the area. When the Maasai Steppes dry up with the end of the long rains in June, migratory animals return to the Tarangire River, making Tarangire National Park second only to Ngorongoro in the concentration of wildlife. This period stretches between June and October and it is the best season for game viewing in Tarangire.
The most common animals found in the park include zebras, wildebeest, lions, leopards, waterbucks, giraffe, elephants, gazelles, impala, gerenuk, lesser kudu and the beautiful fringe-eared oryx. You may be lucky to spot the tree-climbing python, for which the park is famous, or the greater kudu and the roan antelope which are rare species in Northern Tanzania. Over 550 bird species have been recorded in the Park.
Located 125 km west of Arusha town, nestling by the wall of the Great Rift Valley, Lake Manyara National Park is one of the oldest and most popular sanctuaries in East Africa. The park has a large variety of habitats, making it possible to support a wealth of wildlife in its small area. The main habitats include the shallow soda lake itself which occupies 77% of the National Park total area of 330 sq. km, the ground water forest, open grassland, acacia woodland and the rift wall.
The most famous spectacle in the park is the tree-climbing lions, which are occasionally seen along branches of acacia trees. Other animals found in the park include buffalo, elephants, leopards, baboons, impala, giraffes, zebra, wildebeest, ostrich and hippos. Popularly referred to as an ornithologist’s paradise, Lake Manyara National Park contains over 400 bird species found in most savanna and river habitats in East Africa. Common water birds to be seen here are pelicans, spoonbills, Egyptian geese, hammerkops and the migratory flamingoes, which arrive in hundreds of thousands creating one of Africa’s great natural sights over the soda lake.
Copyright © 2022. tanzania wildtouch adventure