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Arusha National Park

This is a small, but very varied park close to Arusha. It is offers beautiful opportunity to acclimatize after arrival. There is much to be seen like a rain forest, acacia woods and tropical plants. Small beast of prey, elephants and buffaloes live in the park and you can see giraffes everywhere. The park is famous for its white-and-black colobus monkeys. This monkey has a long tail and a cute face. The meerkats move on the ground and in the trees and continuously argue among themselves while making a lot of noise. The Ngurdoto crater, also called mini-Ngorongoro, is one of the highlights of the park. Here you can see the animals move about, but people are not allowed access. An other highlight are the seven Momella lakes. You can make a canoe trip on them. You pass hippopotamuses and pink flamingos and on the shore are buffaloes grazing. The climb of Mount Meru starts from Arusha NP, but you can also make a daytrip to the first lodge on Mount Meru or go an a walking safari towards a refreshing waterfall under together with an armed guide. With a bit of luck you will walk in between the giraffes along the way.

Lake Manyara NP

This is one of the oldest and most visited parks in Tanzania. It is relatively small, which makes it easier to locate the animals. The park is at the foot of Mount Meru and borders on the Great Rift Valley, a 300 m high cliff wall. The park is cool and green because the rain water from the Ngorongoro highland permanently flows downwards along the steep cliff wall. This always provides sufficient food and water for the animals. There are beautiful forests, grasslands, moors and of course the shallow soda lake. Unnumerable water birds can be observed here, for example pelicans, cranes, storks and especially thousands of flamingos. The tree-climbing lions are the most special attraction in this park. However, you will not easily be able to see this phenomenon, because they mainly choose those acacia trees that are not on through routes so they will not be disturbed. Very special are the herds of elephants that sometimes come so close that you could touch them. In Lake Manyara you can find different types of monkey like the blue monkey and the meerkat monkey, but also baboons. You will find more of them here than anywhere else. It is very funny to see how baboon mothers deal with their children!

Nogorongoro CA

The crater, also called “Noah’s Ark” or “Africa’s Eden”, is officially a game reserve and not a National Park. A reserve can be inhabited to a limited extent, a National Park cannot. Ngorongoro is one of the eight wonders of the world and is a photographer’s paradise. It is the largest caldera with a surface of 265 kilometres. This explains the name Ngorongoro which means “big hole”. The crater’s edge is at a height of about 2200 m! In the mornings it can be quite chilly, because the crater is surrounded by clouds. The crater floor lies at an altitude of about 600 m. It houses some 30,000 animals and it is the only spot in Africa where you are quite certain to spot the Big Five (elephant, buffalo, hippopotamus, leopard and lion) in one day. There are large herds of zebras and gnus, but also elephants, rhinoceroses, lions, cheetahs, leopards and hipopotamuses, many antilopes and more than 200 types of birds. You can find jackals and vultures, fighting for a prey. The animal you will not find here is the giraffe. With its long legs and neck it cannot make the steep descent to the floor of the crater.

In the middle of the crater is a salt lake where colonies of flamingos live. Only the proud Maasai, with their hair dyed red and wearing a buttoned-up shuka are allowed to live in the area. Because they had already been dispelled from Serengeti, they refused to also leave Ngorongoro. It was to their advantage that the Maasai do not eat meat and are therefore no threat for the big game. Because they also live a very traditional life, there is no risk of nature being spoilt either. They take their cows and goats down into the crater every day, because there is always water to drink.

Outside the crater is the Olduvai Gorge, ”cradle of mankind”. The Maasai also call it Oldupaai, after the sisal plant that grows here. Here, remnants were found of the oldest ancestors of man. There is a small museum where you can see the finds.

Serengeti National Park

This is the largest and most spectacular park worldwide, where many nature documentaries are filmed. “Serengeti” is taken from the Maasai language and means endless plains. But the landscape has more to offer: you can see stretches of savannah and rocks. Every year in November more than 1 million gnus and thousands of zebras travel the Serengeti plains in search of fresh grass and water. They need to cross the Mara River which has many crocodiles. It is obvious that not all gnus survive this crossing. If they do, they are chased by hungry lions, cheetahs and hyenas. Other beasts of prey like leopards and jackals observe the voyage with interest and elephants, rhinoceroses and quietly continue to graze. Along the shores of the river Seronera you have a good chance of seeing the cheetah and the leopard. Serengeti has a large lion population. They like taking a siesta on the rocks, but a family may cross in front of the car just like that. In December there is a good chance of seeing lions mating, because on average a pair of lions mate ten times a day during a period of about five days. Bird watchers will also be satisfied, because there is a wide variety of birds.

Tarangire Park

Tarangire, named after the river that intersects, is different from the other parks. It is the classic Africa with the immense baobab trees that are a few hundred years old in the north and that grow in the open plains that are covered with yellow acacias. In November the animals leave, to return in June, after the rain season. Among others, large herds of elephants, gnus and zebras move from the dry savannah to the south of Tarangire for cool and fresh water. The predators like lions and leopards take the opportunity to take the thirsty animals by surprise. Furthermore, you can also see elks, impalas, gazelles, buffaloes and giraffes. You also have a fair chance of seeing wild dogs.