The Quick Guide to Tarangire National Park

Tarangire National Park can best be described as the "Land of the Elephants" due to the massive herds sometimes reaching upwards of 300 individuals. Over 1,000 square miles of unspoiled African wilderness are dotted with some of the most iconic foliage of Tanzania - Acacia and Baobab trees. The Tarangire River meanders through the park and serves as the primary source of water for all of the incredible wildlife that calls this park home.

It is also often considered one of the most underrated wildlife parks in all of Africa - due to the presence of 4/5 of the "Big Five" and far fewer visitors than the more famous parks further north.

This guide seeks to give a quick breakdown of need-to-know information about Tarangire National Park.

Where is Tarangire National Park?

Tarangire National Park is 2.5-3 hour drive from JRO international airport and about 1.5 hours south of Karatu - A centrally located town which acts as a jumping off point for several of the parks in the Tanzanian safari circuit. Because it is within a reasonable distance to the airport, Tarangire can bea good choice for the bulk of a short safari that only lasts for 2-4 days.

How Far is Tarangire National Park From Other Destinations in Tanzania?

  • JRO Airport: 2.5-3 hours
  • Arusha City: 1.5-2 hours
  • Mt. Kilimanjaro basecamp (Moshi): 3-3.5 hours
  • Arusha National Park: 2.5-3 hours
  • Lake Manyara National Park: 0.5-1.5 hours
  • Ngorongoro Crater: 2-2.5 hours
  • Seronera (Central Serengeti): 4.5-5 hours

What Are the Fees to Enter Arusha National Park for 2022?

Tanzanian park entry fees vary by age, season, and whether or not you are a citizen of East Africa. Fees also are often charged both per person as well as per group. If you sleep in the park, you will also be assessed a concession fee. All park fees are INCLUDED in every Tohe Wildlife Safari itinerary.

The below fees are for NON-East African Adults over 16 years of age. To see the detailed tariff list, click here.

Concession (entry) Fees:

  • Low Season (March 15-May 15): $45/per person
  • High Season (May 16-March 14): $50/per person

Camp Site Fees (Only assessed if using public Camp sites):

  • Low Season (October - June): $50/per person
  • High Season (July - September): $60/per person

Hotel Concession Fees (Assessed if you stay at a lodge within the park boundaries):

  • Year round: $40/per person

Vehicle Entry Fees:

  • ~$20/vehicle depending on weight

What Kind of Wildlife Can Be Found In Tarangire National Park?

As mentioned previously, 4 out of 5 of the Big Five can be found in Tarangire National Park - Lion, Leopard, Cape Buffalo, and Elephant. Rhino are the only ones not found here. Elephants in particular have made this park their home and visiting without seeing some would be a surprise. Though, again, keep in mind when booking a safari that part of the magic of seeing these animals in their natural habitats is that there is never a guarantee to see them. Giraffe are also common here as well as several migratory herbivores like Zebra, Wildebeest, Gazelle, and even Eland. Very lucky visitors may have a chance at spotting Cheetah or even Wild Dog.

Common Highlights: Elephant, Giraffe, Lion, Hippo, Zebra, Buffalo, Wildebeest, & More

Tarangire National Park Lodges and Accommodation

Due to its proximity to the tourism hub of Karatu, visitors of Tarangire often stay there. Numerous lodges are available in the area for varying budgets. For visitors who would prefer to enjoy the park more thoroughly, there is also classic tented-safari lodge accommodation available within the park boundaries. See some of the Karatu or Tarangire lodging available within your chosen budget class below:

See here for mid-range options

See here for luxury options

Is Tarangire National Park Good For a Day Trip?

While possible, Tarangire is probably not the ideal destination for a safari day trip. With a 4 hour round trip time from Arusha town, much of your day will be spent in transit. However, if seeing elephants is your priority and you only have one day then it may be worth the drive for some visitors. If you are willing to spend the night in nearby Karatu, then it becomes much more feasible. The easiest day trip in Tanzania is Arusha National Park.

What does Tarangire National Park Look Like?

With over 1,000 square miles to cover, the landscape in Tarangire National Park is certainly varied. The key features are the Tarangire River, Baobab and Acacia trees, and seasonal swamps that Hippos call home. It can be quite dry during the dry season, though there is still a large amount of flora to be seen. Some areas are dominated by woodland and others relatively open plains.

The Tarangire River with a small family of Elephants

Another Elephant walking past one of the many Baobab trees

Zebra and Wildebeest enjoy the suns rays amongst Acacia trees

The 27 square mile Silale Swamp in front of Sambu Mountain in Eastern Tarangire

What is the Best Time Of Year to Visit Tarangire National Park?

What constitutes the best time to visit is always subjective depending on what you prioritize. In general, the things to consider with seasonality are:

How busy will it be?

Tarangire is often overlooked by tourists visiting Tanzania in favor of Serengeti or Ngorongoro Crater. Combine that with the fact that there is over 1,000 square miles to explore, and you have a park that doesn't feel too busy at any time of the year. As with every park though, the dry season of June - October is when you will encounter more people.

What is the weather like? Will the weather limit the accessibility of the park?

During dry season (June - October) typical temperatures during the day are in the mid-70s and the high 50's in the early mornings and evenings. Rain is extremely rare. All areas of the park will be accessible.

During wet season temperatures are generally slightly hotter than dry season (high of low-mid 80s). Regarding precipitation, the wet season is further split in two sub-seasons known as the "long rains" and "short rains."

  • The "short rains" are generally in November-December and consist of sporadic afternoon showers that will seldom effect your trip.
  • The "long rains" are usually between March and Mid-May and are characterized by more consistent rains. It usually won't rain all day, but many days will be overcast and wet.  Certain areas of Tarangire National Park may be inaccessible due to the rains.
  • Between the short & long rains (January-February) are an unpredictable dry period. It is not possible to predict when exactly it will arrive in advance.

How easily can you spot the animals?

In general, wildlife is always more difficult to find during the wet season for two reasons. First, wet season produces more vegetation. The greenery, while beautiful, gives the animals many more places to hide. Second, the animals have more access to water sources so they do not need to concentrate around fewer areas as they do during dry season.

Though Tarangire is not as famous for its migration as Serengeti, it is still occupied by many migratory mammals. During the wet season of November-May, many of them will exit the park. However, wet season is also ideal for bird watching since it is when migratory birds will return to the park.

In Tarangire National Park, the variance between wildlife viewing between seasons is a factor to consider. For example, during wet season lions may be much less common to see however it is very likely to still see many elephants.

What are the cost differences?

Because Tarangire National Park is already quite inexpensive, the cost savings for going during wet season are not significant. Cost savings will vary by accommodation choice.

An overview:

Dry Season (June - October)
  • The weather is more pleasant. Daytime temperatures are typically in the mid 70's and evenings/mornings will be cool.
  • Animals are easier to find. Less vegetation means they have fewer places to hide and less water means they will be concentrated around the Tarangire River. Since many migratory mammals return to the park during the dry season, wildlife will be more abundant.
  • Less rain means less mosquitoes
  • Slightly more people and slightly more expensive
  • Migratory birds are not present in the park

Wet Season (November - May)
  • The weather is a bit hotter and more humid. Temperatures are in the 80's during the day.
  • Animals may be more difficult to spot due to heavy vegetation and more water sources available to them. Many migratory mammals have also left the park so there is less wildlife present.
  • More mosquitoes
  • Less people and slightly less expensive
  • There may be slight issues accessing certain parts of the park due to the rains.
  • Excellent time for bird watching

What Is The Bottom Line?

  • Tarangire National Park is a large, and often overlooked park with very good wildlife spotting opportunities. Especially when it comes to elephants due to their massive herds - some of the largest in the world sometimes reaching over 300 individuals.
  • The combination of wildlife, size, and relative popularity compared to other parks in Tanzania make it a worthwhile stop on any safari itinerary.
  • Entry fees and nearby accommodation costs are reasonable and lower than those of Serengeti or Ngorongoro.
  • Because of the presence of migratory animals, seasonality plays a factor in your visit. The dry season of June-October will have better animal spotting opportunities than the wet season of November - May. Though bird watching is excellent in the wet season.
  • At 1,000 square miles and a diverse habitat, there is a great deal to explore in Tarangire.