Tarangire National Park in Tanzania was our last stop on our amazing 8 night safari with our two kids (2 years 8 months and 5 years). This park is best known for its elephant population, as they are plentiful and large. We saw a baby elephant our guide said was 2 weeks old and it even nursed! Awwwwwww!
It also, unfortunately, is also known for its biting fly population. This was the only park where we had problems with biting flies and they definitely made the game drive much less enjoyable. I don’t know if this is a year-round problem, or just certain times of year. Prior to entering the park, workers sprayed our jeep’s undercarriage and wheels to discourage the flies. We also made sure to wear long pants and socks, and sprayed ourselves with DEET. However, I’ve read that DEET either doesn’t make a difference or may even encourage the flies. They also will bite through long clothing. So the best bet is avoiding them altogether.
The land in Tarangire was very different from our other parks. Many more hills and trees, plus a river. The river was mostly dry during our visit but during and after the rains it can get quite large.
Tarangire has a lot of the basic animals–elephants, giraffes, zebras, wildebeest, gazelle, etc. We saw a dik dik, which is the smallest of the antelope and can go 2 weeks without water! They weigh 3-6 kg (7-13 lb) and are less than 15″ tall (from the ground to shoulder).
In the dry river bed you can see elephants digging for water. We also saw a water buck, which we hadn’t seen other places.
There are not many lion in Tarangire, but we saw 2 in a tree when we left the next morning. Lions don’t typically climb trees, but this tree’s trunk was at a very low angle (maybe 45 degrees) and they basically just walked up the trunk rather than climbed.
Because of the flies, DH and I stood in the jeep to scan for animals and scan for flies. Left landscape. Right landscape. Scan inside jeep for flies. When we saw one, we’d yell out its location and then it was all hands on deck! They are not very fast moving, and we managed to kill several of them. No one got bit, but we had some close calls. DS2 was very good at spotting flies and would yell out, “FLY, Daddy!” so we could kill it. We tried not to stop anywhere for long as it seemed more came in when we weren’t moving.
We did get to see some fairly young giraffes, which were adorable. There was also a pond with wading zebra and elephants drinking which was a new sight. And there were plentiful bao bab trees, which have massive trunks.
Tarangire was our least favorite park of the four we visited (the others being Lake Manyara, Serengeti, and Ngorongoro Crater). I think a lot had to do with visiting it at the end rather than the beginning. None of the animals were unique to the park and it doesn’t have the hardest to spot animals (like leopards or rhino). Plus, the flies were a huge bummer. If I was recommending the trip to others, I’d suggest starting at Tarangire. It did have plentiful animals, so for a first game drive day when you’re still excited about every gazelle, zebra, and wildebeest it would be pretty good.
Our camp for the night was Kichuguu Camp inside the park. The staff was very friendly. The camp was more basic than our other ones, but still had 24 hour power and wifi in the reception area. Electricity comes from solar power, so there is always a chance it would be limited during rainy or cloudy periods. But we had it 24/7.
Like the other camps, it had a reception/living room tent and a dining tent. These were in the middle of the line of tents. Sleeping tents were on each side and there was a good amount of space between them. The tents were not raised, but had a canvas floor covered with a very uncomfortable rug (going barefooted was painful as it was a very bumpy rug). Outside were chairs and a little canvas awning.
Inside we had a large bed for me, DH, and DS2 and a smaller twin bed for DD. They provided plenty of drinking water and glasses. The camp does not allow any food or snacks inside the tents at night as a safety precaution from wild animals smelling it. They collected any food you had and stored it for you overnight. We had a lot of snacks to dig out of bags and purses!
The bathroom had twin sinks, a safe, a toilet and a safari-style shower. This means that when you wanted to shower, you had to request one and after about 15 minutes they’d load up hot water into buckets above your tent. Then you could pull on cords to release or stop the water flow from the shower head inside your tent. I was pleased there was warm water and the flow was good. However, it was a bit odd showering just on the other side of a canvas wall while a worker waited for you to finish.
As the sun set, they did a camp fire and you could buy wine, beer, or soda to have. It was fun having a camp fire, though the view was no where near as nice as the Serengeti’s view. Tarangire has a lot more scruffy trees and brush and you can’t see as far. We also didn’t see any animals like we did in the Serengeti.
Dinner was a mix of plated and buffet. We started with pumpkin ginger soup that was AMAZING. So good!! Then we had a buffet with local style recipes of chicken, beef skewers, rice pilaf, polenta, salad, and beans. We ended with dessert served directly. Breakfast was a small buffet with eggs and bacon made-to-order.
As a first stop, the camp would have been fine. It was comfortable and the staff was nice. Food was good. However, as the final stop, especially following Siringit Serengeti Camp and Gibb’s Farm, it was a bit disappointing as the others were much more luxurious. It is better to work from more basic to fancy than the reverse.
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