Tarangire, Lake Manyara & Ngorongoro crater. On my first 3 days I get to go to three parks.
Tarangire National Park has a varied, beautifully rough and hilly terrain around a winding river where many animals come to drink. In addition, the park is famous for its huge baobab trees, yellow acacias, small swamps and palm trees.
Tarangire National Park boasts some of the highest animal densities and most stunning landscapes in Tanzania. Its proximity to Arusha (where the Kilimanjaro airport is ) makes it easily accessible.
The biggest intact (unbroken) volcanic caldera on Earth, the Ngorongoro Crater is also a natural sanctuary for some of the densest populations of large mammals in Africa. Due to its enclosed nature, the Ngorongoro Crater has effectively formed its own ecosystem.
We will get to see a lot of animals on safari in the Ngorongoro Crater. The fertile floor of the caldera is mostly flat, open and covered in nourishing grasses that support large numbers of grazers like zebra, wildebeest, Thomson’s and Grant’s gazelle, buffalo and tsessebe.
East of Lake Magadi, a shallow soda lake in the Crater, is the Ngoitokitok Springs and Gorigor Swamp where pods of boisterous hippo marinate the days away. Ngorongoro Crater is also a fantastic bird watching destination, home to over 500 species including ostrich, secretary bird, kori bustard and greater flamingo.
The last is Lake Manyara National Park and is home to three big cat species—lions, leopards, and cheetahs—but is famous around the world for its population of tree-climbing lions. It’s not certain why the lions have adopted this unusual behavior, although experts theorize that the elevation gives them relief from biting insects or a better vantage point for spotting prey. Either way, the sight of these apex predators lounging high in an acacia tree is a remarkable one, so make sure to look upwards when on a Lake Manyara safari.
Tree-climbing lions aside, the park is known for its large elephant herds and baboon troops that often include several hundred members. Buffalos, zebras, Sykes’ monkeys, and various antelope species can also be spotted, including the diminutive dik-dik. The resident Maasai giraffe is the largest of all giraffe subspecies and consequently the tallest animal on Earth. At one end of the park, there’s a hippo pond where visitors can get out of their vehicles and admire the aquatic mammals wallowing, playing, and fighting in the mud—from a safe distance, of course.
Lake Manyara is also a well-known birding hotspot with over 400 recorded species. In fact, the birdlife here is so abundant that even amateur ornithologists can reasonably expect to spot as many as 100 species in a single day. The lake attracts countless herons, egrets, and other waders during the wet season, and is famous for the vast flocks of flamingos that congregate here from March to May. If you’re lucky, you may see thousands of these rose-colored birds amassed together along the lakeshore. Other specials include the Abdim’s stork, the African hawk-eagle, and the Von der Decken’s hornbill. In summer, migrant species arrive from Europe and Asia.
Onward to Africa!!
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