With huge baobabs scattered across its skyline, Tarangire National Park presents an almost surreal picture with many of the trees being rubbed raw by the huge herds of elephant which pass through in search of food.
Apart from the Tarangire River itself, which runs into huge swamps in the south and which concentrates most of the game, the park is exceptionally dry.
Herds of up to 300 elephants scratch the dry Tarangire river bed for underground streams, while migratory wildebeest, zebra, buffalo, impala, gazelle, hartebeest and eland crowd the shrinking lagoons. It's the greatest concentration of wildlife outside the Serengeti ecosystem and the one place in Tanzania where dry-country antelope such as the stately fringe-eared oryx and peculiar long-necked gerenuk are regularly observed.
In direct contrast, the neighbouring Lake Manyara National Park is lush and green with swaying vines and twisted fig trees. The compact game-viewing circuit through Manyara offers a virtual microcosm of the Tanzanian safari experience. This deep forest is home to thousands of monkeys, birds and the rare, tree-climbing lion. Manyara provides the perfect introduction to Tanzania’s birdlife. More than 400 species have been recorded, and even a first-time visitor to Africa might reasonably expect to observe 100 of these in one day. The wall of the Rift Valley, which flanks one side of the park, provides a wonderful setting for several small lodges such as Migunga Forest Camp & Lake Manyara Tree Lodge.