Tarangire is one of my favorite parks, with its abundance of baobab trees which are deciduous and normally put on the green leaves during October to December.

One of the unique things with the Baobab is that during the period when they don’t have leaves, the bare limbs and branches look like an upside down kind of tree.

Legend has it that these massive trees were once up in heaven and were doing just good bearing fruit as usual. But one year unfortunately they did not bear fruit and God was very angry so he started uprooting them and throwing them down to Earth where they started growing in the opposite way – so they were named upside down trees!

Some baobab trees are believed to be six to nine hundred years old and they have veins which supply water and nutrients through the bark.

Most of them are hollowed in the middle and for that reason, the early hunters and gatherers used them as shelters. One big tree is capable of hosting up to ten people inside it.

The baobab tree has many uses for the local tribes. For example, the leaves are used as vegetables by the “Hadza” hunters and gatherers who actually live the same way they have been living for over ten thousand years in the Yaeda valley in southern Ngorongoro highlands.

Many of the baobabs also  have holes and crevasses, and being so large and tall since time immemorial, many creatures, birds and wild bees have used the trees to put up their homes, nests and hives,  thus becoming one of their main attraction for human beings. As you drive around Tarangire National Park, try to observe the baobab trees and you will see the holes which are from the bottom to the top of the trees, sometimes in parallel line -- these are old holes which were once used by the people climbing up to harvest honey made by bees and stored inside the tree. They climb up by driving pointed pegs, which they cut from smaller branches of other trees, into the baobab trees one by one lifting themselves up the tree until they got to the spot where the bees have put their hive. By then they would have already started the fire down below the tree, and one person below hands over the wood with amber and some type of grass to smoke the bees out, while the man at the hive reaches inside with his hand, and puts the honey in a container which he has tied a rope around his waist or neck. And after they finish, they climb down the same way. Those pegs will not be used again by another person since they rot easily and would be dangerous as they would not be stable any longer.

Since the whole baobab tree is just fiber and soft tissues, they absorb lots of water from underground using their massive roots which stretch up to twenty five meters from the tree.

The baobab fruit is very good to eat although the seeds are very hard to crack because they are a bit rubbery. But the seeds have enormous nutritive value and different peoples use them as a staple. These include the Hadza  people – baobab fruit has been their  main source of protein, vitamin C and fat. They also make a tasty juice out of the white coated seed. There are different ways of harvesting the fruit, by throwing sticks and hitting them so that they fall down, or by climbing the tree and hitting the fruit with a stick to knock  them down on the ground. After harvesting enough fruit for daily use, they take them home where they break the seed pod open and place the contents on a rock surface and grind or pound the seed with a round rock and collect the powder and sift it. And with that they can put the powder in water, stir it well and add some honey whereby it will be eaten with hands.

And just recently in Dodoma, which is the capital of Tanzania, there have been groups of women’s organizations which have started extracting baobab seed oil which has been known to boost the immune system in the body.

Apart from its large elephant population (around 3,500) Tarangire has also lots of other large game including lions. The best time to visit is from June through to January when the water holes have dried outside the park boundaries. Also, Tarangire is very close to Arusha --  just about a two hour drive. -- Shaaban.

Please follow this link to the official site of the Tarangire National Park for additional information

Tarangire National Park


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