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Arusha National Park
Arusha National Park is located about 13 miles from the town of Arusha. The park was discovered by Sir Julius Huxley. Founded in 1960, it is 33,800 acres in size and consists of three spectacular features: the Momella Lakes, Ngurdoto Crater, and Mount Meru. There is a beautiful mountain forest with unique species of plants and wildlife. The park is famous for its 400 species of bird life, both sedentary and migratory, and the black and white colobus monkeys. It is dominated by Mount Meru, an extinct volcano that rises 14,990 feet. You will also have the opportunity to view a snow-capped Mount Kilimanjaro, weather permitting. Within the park there is Ngurdoto Crater, which is a thickly wooded volcanic caldera. Buffalo, elephant, Maasai giraffe, monkeys and a variety of other animals inhabit the park.
Tarangire National Park
Fifteen miles southeast of Lake Manyara, Tarangire National Park is the third largest park in Tanzania. Established in 1970, it gets its name from the river that runs through the park. It is considered one of the best places in East Africa to see elephant and buffalo. It is also noted for its magnificent vistas and stately baobab trees. In the dry season, thousands of animals sweep the horizon, migrating from the dry Maasai steppe in search of water. Predators like lions follow the herds. There is a wide variety of wildlife, including leopard, olive baboon, jackal, impala, eland, reedbuck, bushbuck, oryx and more. Tarangire not only has excellent wildlife but features over 300 bird species. This is also one of the premier places in the world to see python, often coiled around tree limbs high above the ground.
Lake Manyara National Park
Established in 1960, Lake Manyara National Park is the home of the elusive tree-climbing lions, which spend most of their time in acacia trees. The soda lake of Manyara covers 151 square miles or nearly two-thirds of the refuge. It boasts a lavish supply of bird life. The lake has no outlet yet is at an elevation of 3,280 feet above sea level. The park is noted for its graceful beauty. There are several different types of forests with a variety of animals such as hippos, giraffes, elephants and many others. Entering the park, there is a forest, home of baboons and blue monkeys. Then you come up to woodlands, grassland, swamp and the lake itself, which is the sanctuary of over 380 species of birds including flamingos, pelicans, storks, sacred ibis, cormorants and Egyptian geese. The park name is derived from the Maasai word for the plant Emanyara (Euphorbia tirucalli), which is used by locals to grow a living cattle paddock to protect them from predators. Other plants in the area include stargrass, wild date palm, umbrella acacia and baobab trees.
Oldupai (Olduvai) Gorge
Oldupai Gorge is located within the Ngorongoro conservation area. This archeological site has yielded fossils - a remarkable record of human evolution from two million years to date. You can see the site where Mary and Louis Leakey worked and visit the small museum. It was at Oldupai Gorge that Dr. Leakey discovered the remains of Homo habilis (handy man), regarded as human's first step on the ladder of evolution. Also, many fossils have been discovered here including the prehistoric elephants, giant horned sheep and enormous ostriches. Today Tanzania continues to be the center of attention for research into our origins and is deserving of the "Cradle of humankind" label placed on its ancient fossil beds.There are lecture tours on site.
Serengeti National ParkSerengeti is the biggest park in Tanzania. Its 5,700 square miles are a part of the 9,600-square-mile Mara-Serengeti ecosystem. This ecosystem is home to the incredible herds of wildebeest and other grazing animals. This vast area consists of treeless central plains, savannah dotted with acacias and granite outcroppings called kopjes, and riverine bush and forest in the north. It has an abundance of wildlife. There are an estimated 1.5 million wildebeest, 200 thousand zebras, 18 thousand elands, 500 thousand Thomson's gazelles and 50 thousand Grant's gazelles. There are plenty of prides of black-maned lions, cheetahs and other predators. More than 400 species of birds have been recorded in the park. With a staggering animal population of about 4 million with 14763 sq. kms, it is one of the largest wildlife sanctuaries in the world and the site of one of the most breathtaking events in the animal kingdom - the migration of hundred of thousands of wildebeest. It was accepted by the World Heritage convention as a World Heritage site and biosphere reserve in 1981. The name "Serengeti" means endless plains, derived from the Maasai language. The word "siringet" means "a wide open space or extended area." The park was declared a National Park in 1948 and officially gazetted in 1951 as the first national park in Tanzania.
Ngorongoro CraterEstablished in 1959 and declared a World Heritage Site in 1978, Ngorongoro Crater is a place which strikes memorable moments. It is a natural amphitheater - a 105 square miles crater (about 12 miles across), the largest, unflooded caldera (collapsed volcano) in the world. The crater rim looms 2,000 feet above the floor and is at an altitude of about 6,000 ft., ensuring cool evenings. Ngorongoro Crater is regarded as one of Africa's best game viewing areas. It is home to more than 25,000 permanent wildlife and black rhinos can be seen here, while huge bull elephants roam around. Because the crater floor is mostly flat grassland, game viewing is excellent. Game includes wildebeest, zebra, Thomson's and Grant's gazelles, lions, hyenas, buffalo, hippo and more. Flamingos inhabit the alkaline Lake Magadi in the center of the crater. Other bird life is abundant. Some people believe Ngorongoro was named after the Datoga warriors who defeated the Maasai in battle along the caldera floor in 1840. Another story states that Ngorongoro was the name of a famous Maasai cattle bell maker who lived in the crater.
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Some text above is from the Tanzania Tourist Board.
Photographs copyright © Primate Projections. All rights reserved.