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- Category: Kenya
- Published on Wednesday, 23 January 2013 09:29
- Written by Administrator
- Hits: 264
Tanzania has some good things going for it, one of which is that a third of the country is national park or game reserve. Mount Kilimanjaro is in the north near the Kenyan border. Crime levels are low, the human rights record is good, primary education is free, literacy campaigns are focusing on educating illiterate adults, and health care is available for everyone. Tanzanians are friendly, pleasant people who will make visitors feel welcome.
So, Tanzania gets a good share of tourists, who mainly go there for the safaris, mountain climbing, the miles and miles of white sandy beaches, and the bustling former capital of Dar es Salaam, with its old colonial buildings. The Serengeti Plains, Lake Victoria, and the Ngorongoro Crater are other natural attractions.
LAKE MANYARA NATIONAL PARK.
Although Lake Manyara National Park covers an area of only 318sq km (123sq miles), its terrain is so diverse that its mammal and bird lists are most impressive. The Park includes the northern and most of the western parts of the lake and its shores with a westward expansion to the top of the Rift Valley wall where Lake Manyara Lodge is sited. Large areas of ground-water forest with giant fig and mahogany trees alternate with acacia woodland and more open places, all well watered. A network of roads and tracks gives the visitor maximum game and bird viewing opportunities. The tree-climbing Lions of Manyara-like the tree-climbing Lions of Ishasha in the Ruwenzori National Park, Uganda-are famous for this feature of lion behaviour, which may also be observed in Ngorongoro and Serengeti. In Manyara it is probably due to a combination of the needd to avoid dense undergrowth and a search for cool shade. Probably the lions have also found that in an arboreal resting place the torment of biting flies is less.
In the Ruwenzori National Park a different explanation must be sought: there the lions apparently climb trees as vantage points in order to see over the tall grass.
Numbers of Elephant are resident in the Park. Buffalo are common and herds of 300-400 have been recorded. Black Rhinoceros are very uncommon. Leopards occur in most places and it is not unusual to come across them in the early morning or late evening: like the lions, they may be seen resting in trees.
Manyara is noted for its wealth of birdlife. At times the lake is visited by many thousands of Lesser Flamingos, together with a sprinkling of the larger species. Maccoa Ducks and White-backed Ducks are resident, and the beautiful little Pygmy Goose is sometimes observed. The Chestnut-banded Sand Plover, a bird with a very restricted distribution in East Africa, is found on mudflats and sandy areas. Over 30 different birds of prey have been recorded in the Park, including the Palm-nut Vulture and Ayres’ and Crowned Hawk Eagles. Lake Manyara National Park is 107km (67 miles) south-west of Arusha via the Great North Road; at Nakuyuni a right turn leads after 40km (25 miles) to the village of Mto-wa-Mbu: the Park entrance is a little over a mile past the village. Accommodation is available at the Lake Manyara Hotel, sited on the top of the Rift Wall with spectacular views over the lake. Official camping sites are available near the Park boundary.
NGORONGORO CRATER CONSERVATION AREA.
The Ngorongoro Conservation Area of 6,475sq km (2,500sq miles) was established in 1959. Previously, most of the area and the famous Ngorongoro Crater had formed part of the now contiguous Serengeti National Park. The dual purpose of the Conservation Area is to conserve the region’s natural resources and also to safeguard the interests of the indigenous Maasai inhabitants, who continue to reside there with their herds of cattle. The Ngorongoro Crater is one of the most spectacular game haunts in Africa: it is also one of the biggest craters or more correctly calderas in the world, over 14.5km (9 miles) across, 610-760m (2,000-2,500ft) deep and covering 264sq km (102 sq miles). The approach road at 2,286m(7,500 ft) skirts the rim of the crater affording many breathtaking scenic views over the crater floor thousands of feet below.
Entry into the crater is by way of the Lerai descent, an extremely steep and winding road down the slopes of the crater wall-negotiable only by four-wheel-drive vehicles. The caldera's bottom is mainly open grassy plains with alternating fresh and brackish-water lakes, swamps and two patches of dense acacia woodlands called the Lerai and Laindi Forests.
Game animals and birds are abundant inside the crater. All of the so-called ``Big Five’ may be seen-Elephant, Lion, Black Rhinoceros, Hippopotamus and Buffalo. Other species encountered are Cheetah, Eland, Grant’s and Thompson’s Gazelles, Common Zebra, Wildebeest, a super-abundance of Spotted Hyaena, Hunting Dog, and, if one is lucky, Leopard. Among the notable birds are Lammergeyer, Verreaux’s Eagle and Egyptian Vulture, which make their home in the highest cliffs of the crater wall; the beautiful Rosy-breasted Long claw, which appears on the plains after rains; and flocks of Greater and Lesser Flamingos which are spasmodic visitors to the crater lakes. The European Black Stork is sometimes seen; usually one or two winter in the crater. In the highland forest on the crater rim two sunbirds are specially noticeable, the long-tailed Golden-winged Sunbird and the smaller Eastern Double-collared Sunbird. At dusk the Abyssinian Nightjar is often seen or heard-the call is a long-drawn out `Pee-oo-wee’. From Arusha the distance to the Crater Lodge is 180km (112 miles); the road passes the entrance to Lake Manyara National Park, thence on to the Mbulu Plateau, through the farming country of Keratu and Oldeani and into the highland forest to the rim of the crater. From Seronera, headquarters of the Serengeti National Park, to the crater is 140km (87 miles), first over miles of open plains and light acacia woodlands and then into the hill country west of the crater. This road passes famous Olduvai Gorge, where remains of prehistoric man were discovered.
Accommodation is available at the two Ngorongoro Crater Lodges, situated at nearly 2,670m (8,000ft) on the crater rim, near the Lerai entrance road, and the Ngorongoro Wildlife Lodge. Other accommodation includes Ngorongoro Forest Hotel, Ngorongoro Safari Lodge at Keratu 40km (25 miles) eastwards towards Manyara National Park, three camp sites in the crater and one on the crater rim.
SERENGETI NATIONAL PARK .
Serengeti, the largest and best known of Tanzania’s National Parks, covers an area of over 14,500sq km (5,600sq miles). Its northern boundary abuts Kenya’s Masai Mara Game Reserve, whilst its western extension known as the `corridor’ reaches to within 8km (5 miles) of Lake Victoria. In this world-famous wildlife sanctuary there still exists the greatest and most spectacular concentration of game animals found anywhere in the world.
Most of the Serengeti is vast open plains with lofty rocky outcrops giving character to the landscape. There are also acacia and savannah woodland and scrub, forested and well-treed rivers, and the occasional swamp and small lake. In altitude Serengeti varies between914 and 1,828m (3,000-6000ft): Park headquarters at Seronera is at 1,524m (5,000ft).
In addition to its vast herds of Wildebeest, Common Zebra, Thompson’s Gazelle and other plains game, Serengeti is renowned for its Lion population. It is not at all unusual to see 40 or more lions in a single day, including several superbly maned old males. Leopards are relatively numerous and are to be found during the daytime resting in trees along the Seronera River. During May, June and July, or sometimes earlier, there is a remarkable migration of game animals, chiefly Zebra and Wildebeest, away from their usual haunts on the central plains and into the corridor. The animals converge and then move westwards, six to ten abreast in winding columns several miles long. This movement has its following of carnivora, ready to dispose of the weaklings and stragglers.
The remarkable `robertsi’ race of Grant’s Gazelle with extremely wide-branched horns is found in the western sector of the Park. Other interesting animals include all three species of Jackal, Striped Hyaena and Aard-wolf. Nobody, at whatever level of interest in ornithology, can fail to notice the weaqlth of bird life in Serengeti. Colourful rollers, bee-eaters, kingfishers and sunbirds are common, whilst among larger species birds of prey, game birds and waterfowl are well represented.
Species of special note include the extremely local Grey-breasted Spur-fowl, the rare Brown-chested Wattle Plover which is sometimes found associated with flocks of Senegal Plover on the open plains, the large brownish Rufous-tailed Weaver, Schalow’s Turaco which inhabits riverine forest and the Little Tawny Pipit and the Red-throated Tit which are quite common around Seronera Lodge. The normal route to the Serengeti National Park, when the present Kenya-Tanzania restrictions are lifted, and one suitable for saloon cars, is from Arusha via Lake Manyara and Ngorongoro. From Arusha to Seronera is 318km (198 miles); from Ngorongoro 145km (90 miles). It is also possible to visit Serengeti from Keekorok via Sand River and Klein’s Camp, a distance of about 153km (95 miles). Accommodation with all facilities is available at Seronera Wildlife Lodge. There are also nine official camp sites, Lobo Wildlife Lodge, between Seronera and Mara, and Lake Nduta Safari Lodge. There is also a YMCA at Seronera. Special permission must be obtained to camp elsewhere in the Park.
TARANGIRE NATIONAL PARK .
The Tarangire National Park covers an area of 1,360sq km (525sq miles) of park-like country with scattered baobab trees alternating with open acacia woodland, open bush, plains, swamps and rivers and stands of palm trees. Big game and birds are abundant. Among the larger mammals Lion, Elephant, Black Rhinoceros and Buffalo are common.
Tarangire is reached via the Great North Road, turning left through Makuyuni, and is some 112km (70 miles) south of Arusha. Accommodation with all facilities is at the Tarangire Lodge and Tented Camp.
THE SELOUS GAME RESERVE
The Selous Game Reserve is a southern extension of the Mikumi8 National Park, covering some 54,490sq km (21,000sq miles), and is predominantly an elephant reserve. The area is mainly brachystegia woodland with grassy flood-plains and some dense forest patches: much of it is inaccessible.
In addition to Elephant there are Hippopotamus, Buffalo, Wildebeest, Lichtenstein’s Hartebeest, Sable Antelope, Greater Kudu, Eland, Lion and Leopard. Bird life is similar to that found in the Mikumi National Park. Accommodation is available at a Safari Camp at Mbuyu. Foot safaris accompanied by armed rangers are permitted. Visits should be made between June and November; at other times some areas of the Reserve are liable to flooding.
KILIMANJARO NATIONAL PARK
Kilimanjaro National Park covers an area of 1,864sq km (720sq miles) of Africa’s highest mountain, extending from m1,824m (6,000ft) to the summit at 5,894m (19,340ft). At lower altitudes the Park consists of mountain rain forest, giving way to scrub-there is no bamboo zone on Kilimanjaro-then alpine moorland and finally icefields. Easiest access to the mountain is from Marangu on the southern slopes, whence the Marangu mountain track, passable for four-wheel-drive vehicles, leads to the upper edge of the forest at 3,895m (9,500ft). There are huts on the mountain for mountain climbers and hotels at Marangu.
The most interesting mammal in the mountain forest is Abbot’s Duiker, an extremely local and uncommon antelope restricted to a few mountain forests in northern Tanzania. In addition Elephant, Buffalo, Black Rhinoceros, Eland, Leopard, Black and White Colobus and Blue Monkey occur in the Park. Of special note among Kilimanjaro birds in the alpine zone are Lammergeyer, Mountain Chat and Scarlet-tufted Malachite Sunbird; among forest species the following warrant enumerations;