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The entrance gate leads into shadowy montane forest inhabited by inquisitive blue monkeys and colourful turacos and trogons the only place on the northern safari circuit where the acrobaticblack-and-white colobus monkey is easily seen. In the midstof the forest stands the spectacular Ngurdoto Crater, whose steep, rocky cliffs enclose a wide marshy floor dotted with herds of buffalo and warthog.
Further north, rolling grassy hills enclose the tranquil beauty of the Momela Lakes,each one a different hue of green or blue. Their shallows sometimes tinged pink with thousands of flamingos, the lakes support a rich selection of resident and migrant waterfowl, and shaggy water bucks display their large lyre-shaped hornson the watery fringes. Giraffes glide across the grassy hills, between grazing zebra herds, while pairs of wide-eyed dik-dik dart into scrubby bush like overgr own hares on spindly legs.
Although elephants are uncommon in Arusha National Park, and lions absents altogether, leopards and spotted hyenas may be seen slinking around in the earlymorning and late afternoon. It is also at dusk and dawn that the veil of cloud on the eastern horizon is most likely to clear, revealing the majestic snow-capped peaks of Kilimanjaro, only 50km (30 miles) distant.
But it is Kilimanjaro’s unassuming cousin, Mount Meru – the fi fth highest in Africa 4,566 metres (14,990 feet) – that dominates the park’s horizon. Its peaks and eastern foots lopes protected within the national park, Meru offers unparalleled views of its famous neighbor, while also forming a rewarding hiking destination in its own right.
Passing first through wooded savannah where buffalos and giraffes are frequently encountered, the ascent of Meru leads into forests aflame with red-hot pokers and dripping with Spanish moss, before reaching high open heath spiked with giant lobelias. Everlasting flowers cling to the alpine desert, as delicately-hoofedklip springers mark the hike’s progress. Astride the craggy summit, Kilimanjaro stands unveiled, blushing in the sun
Tanzania’s oldest and most popular national park, the Serengetii famed for its annual migration, when some six million hooves pound the open plains, as more than 200,000 zebra and 300,000Thomson’s gazelle join the wildebeest’s trek for fresh grazing.
Yet even when the migration is quiet, the Serengeti offers arguably the most scintillating game-viewing in Africa: great herds of buffalo, smaller groups of elephant and giraffe, and thousands upon thousands of eland, topi, kongoni,
impala and Grant’s gazelle. The spectacle of predator versus prey dominates Tanzania’s greatest park. Golden-maned lion prides feast on the abundance of plain grazers. Solitary leopards haunt the acacia trees lining the Seronera River, while a high density of cheetahs prowls the southeastern plains. Almost uniquely, all three African jackal species occur here, alongside the spotted hyena and a host of more elusive small predators, ranging from the insectivorous aardwolf to the beautiful several cat.
But there is more to Serengeti than large mammals. Gaudy agama lizards and rock hyraxes scuffle around the surfaces of the park’s isolated granite koppies. A full 100 varieties of dung beetle have been recorded, as have 500-plus bird species, ranging from the out-sized ostrich and bizarre secretary bird of the open grassland, to the black eagles that soar effortlessly above the Lobo Hills.
As enduring as the game-viewing is the liberating sense of space that characterizes the Serengeti Plains, stretching across sun burnt Savannah to as him mering golden horizon at the end of the earth. Yet, after the rains, this golden expanse of grass is transformed into an endless green carpet flecked with wildflowers. And there are also wooded hills and towering termite mounds,rivers lined with fig trees and acacia woodland stained orange by dust. Popular the Serengeti might be, but it remains so vast that you may be the only human audience when a pride of lions masterminds a siege, focused unswervingly onits next meal.
The route and timing of the wildebeest migration is unpredictable. Allow at least three days to be assured of seeing them on your visit – longer if you want to see the main predators as well.
NCAA was established in 1959 by the NCAA Ordinance No 413 of 1959 as a multiple land uses, designated to promote the conservation of natural resources, safeguard the interests of NCAA indigenous resident and promote tourism. NCAA is a unique protected area in the whole of Africa where conservation of natural resources in integrated with human development.
The main feature of the NCAA include the Ngorongoro Crater, The Serengeti Plains that support about 2.0 millions migratory wildlife species of the Serengeti Mara-ecosystem (TAWIRI, 2003) and the catchment forest; the Northern Highland Forest Reserve (NHFR) known as ‘Entim Olturot’ in Maa language. Other important features found in the NCA are the archaeological and palaeontological site located at Olodipai George and the early human foot-prints that were discovered at Alaitole in Ngarusi area. Because of these particular features and the harmonious co-existence between wildlife and people that has existed for many years, NCAA was accorded the status of a World Heritage Site and listed as one of the International biosphere Reserved by the UNESCO’s Man and Biosphere Reserve Program.
The compact game-viewing circuit through Manyara offers a virtual microcosm of the Tanzanian safari experience. From the entrance gate, the road winds through an expanse of lush jungle like groundwater forest where hundred-strong baboon troops lounge nonchalantly along the roadside, blue monkeys scamper nimbly between the ancient mahogany trees, dainty bush buck tread warily through the shadows, and out sized forest horn-bills honk cacophonously in the high canopy.
Contrasting with the intimacy of the forest is the grassy floodplain and its expansive views eastward, across the alkaline lake, to the jagged blue volcanic peaks that rise from the endless Maasai Steppes. Large buffalo, wildebeest and zebra herds congregate on these grassy plains, as do giraffes – some so dark in coloration that they appear to be black from a distance.
Inland of the flood plain, a narrow belt of acacia woodland is the favored haunt of Manyara’s legendary tree-climbing lions and impressively tusked elephants.
Squadrons of banded mongoose dart between the acacias, while the diminutive Kirk’s dik-dik forages in their shade. Pairs of sprinkling are often seen silhouetted on the rocks above a field of searing hot springs that steams and bubbles adjacent to the lake shore in the far south of the park.
Manyara provides the perfect introduction to Tanzania’s bird life. 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. Highlights include thousands of pink-hued flamingos on their perpetual migration, as well as other large waterbirds such as pelicans, cormorants and storks.
330 sq km (127 sq miles), of which up to 200 sq km (77 sq miles) is lake when water levels are high.
In northern Tanzania. The entrance gate lies 1.5 hours(126km/80 miles) west of Arusha along a newly surfaced road, close to the ethnically diverse market town of Mto wa Mbu. There By road, charter or scheduled flight from Arusha, enroute to Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater.
Game drives, canoing when the water levelsis suffi ciently high. Cultural tours, mountain biketours, abseiling and forest walks on the escarpment outside the park.
Dry season (July-October) for large mammals; wet season (November-June) for bird watching, the waterfalls and canoeing. Accommodation One luxury tree house-style camp, public banda sand campsites inside the park. One luxury tented camp and two lodges perched on the Rift Wall overlooking the lake; several guest houses and campsites in nearby Mto wa Mbu.
TANZANIA NATION PARKS
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