Tanzania’s National Parks and Game Reserves
Serengeti National Park
The Serengeti National Park covers an area of about 14,763 square kilometres. The park boasts the highest concentration of wildlife on the African continent and one of the best places to see “The Big Five” - elephant, rhino, lion, leopard and buffalo. The annual animal migration led by thousands of gnus begins in May and lasts until June. Gazelles, zebras, giraffes, buffalos and eland antelopes, all in search of water, take part in this migration. The migrating herds are accompanied by predators and scavengers such as lions, hyenas and vultures. Other common species found here include hippos, giraffes, eland antelopes, impalas, baboons, monkeys and almost 500 species of bird.
The Olduvai Gorge in the Serengeti National Park is one of the most successful archaeological sites where the paleoanthropologists Louis and Mary Leakey discovered East Africa’s earliest known human remains in 1959. Since then, numerous fossils and artefacts have been discovered, and interesting archaeological finds are on display in a small museum.
The Ngorongoro crater is popularly known as the eighth wonder of the world. It covers an area of 259 square kilometers (100 square miles). The walls of the crater are 610 meters high, which makes it the largest intact crater in theworld. It is home to about 25,000 larger mammals, almost half of them zebras and gnus. There are also buffalos, gazelles, elands and warthogs. Such vastnumbers naturally attract many predators, mainly lions, leopards, cheetahs and hyenas. The crater is also well known for its hugely diverse bird life. More than 100 species of birds not found anywhere in the Serengeti have been spotted here. Whereas the temperature on the rim of the crater is usually chilly andthe atmosphere foggy, half way down the crater it brightens up. At the bottom of the crater the temperature is as warm as in the savannah.
Arusha National Park
Arusha National Park encompasses the Momela Lakes, Mount Meru and the Ngurdoto crater. On clear days, visitors have magnificent views of Mount Kilimanjaro and Mont Meru. The park is famous for its 400 species of birdlife, both migrant and resident, and the black and white colobus monkey. Other animals which can be seen in the park are elephants, baboons, giraffes, hippos, leopards, hyenas and a wide range of different species of antelope. Because of its close proximity to Arusha and its size, it is an ideal place for a one-day excursion.
Lake Manyara National Park
Lake Manyara National Park covers an area of 390 square kilometers. The center ofthe park is a ground water reservoir which is partially fed by small riversflowing down the steep slopes. There are hot water springs which appeared during the formation of the Great Rift Valley. The lake attracts huge flocks ofbirds. Thousands of flamingos gather here, their pink plumage reflected beautifully in the waters of the lake. Other species of bird found here include pelicans, storks, sacred ibis and Egyptian geese. It is here that visitors canwatch tree-climbing lions that spend hours resting on the branches of theacacia trees, three to seven meters above the ground.
Tarangire National Park
The park covers an area of approximately 2,600 square kilometers. It is at its most spectacular during the dry seasons in the months of January to March and July to October when the animals migrate from the arid southern Massailand in their search for the last remaining sources of water in and near the Tarangire river. The park is also famous as the home of the larger Kudus. As in most of the national parks in the northern circuit, visitors can also discover black rhinos, gerenuk and impalas.