If only they could talk… A true icon of Africa and Tanzania, the baobab tree is certainly in no hurry. And why should it be – it has all the time in the world!
These bulbous woody giants can live to between two and three thousand years, though some are thought to be as old as four thousand. Scientists have measured their growth rate at only eight millimetres every ten years. As a Tanzanian would say: ‘Pole, Pole’ (‘Slowly, slowly’). No hurry at all! As you stand and marvel at one of these landmark trees, you can be sure that they have spent quite some time on the planet and seen a lot of history. If only they could talk, they would surely be interesting storytellers.
A true ‘Tree of Life’ – in many ways
Tanzanians respect the baobab as a ‘tree of life.’ Its roots are extremely strong, retaining a phenomenal amount of moisture. In the dry season, the trees are a draw for the wildlife. Even the mighty elephant will visit the tree and chew off the baobab bark, enjoying the moisture and the minerals within.
Despite those strong roots and sturdy appearance, most of the baobab is in fact hollow. Again, this is useful, as the ‘tree of life’ provides habitat for everything from bats to cats, from mongoose to bees and even snakes. In some ways, the giant tree is almost like an apartment block, full of diverse inhabitants. From the world of birds, owls, parrots and woodpeckers are amongst those who nest in the baobab’s upper reaches.
Shop, chemist… and weather forecaster, too!
But as well as being an apartment block, the baobab is also something of a convenience store – and even a pharmacy!. Amazingly, cream of tartar comes from the flowers, while its fruit is a favourite with monkeys. Leaves are also crushed to be used as medicines and it even helps with meteorology The baobab gets its leaves when the rains are close, useful information for Tanzanian farmers. After the leaves, flowers and fruit follow.
Baobab are choosy as to where they live, growing only between sea level and 1100 metres, which is why – for example – you will not find them in Serengeti. Tarangire National Park is an excellent showcase for some superb samples of the tree, so make sure you take time to admire them there or elsewhere in Tanzania and ask your driver-guide to explain their unique characteristics to you.
At around 2,850 square kilometres, Tarangire is the sixth largest national park in Tanzania. The dry season sees thousands of animals in the park, as it offers a refuge when water is short elsewhere; it is also very rich in birdlife, with over 500 species recorded here. As well as being notable for its large herds of elephant (and of course, the baobab tree), Tarangire is known for the diversity of its landscapes, with grasslands, swamplands, riverine woodlands and rocky, hilltop vegetation attracting a great variety of animals. All these different environments combine to guarantee the visitor a memorable visit.
Getting You There?
Of course, the majestic baobab tree can be seen elsewhere in beautiful Tanzania, but is perhaps best seen in Tarangire National Park. Lying three hours’ drive west of Arusha, this magnificent, diverse park is incorporated into many of Easy Travel’s itineraries, or can easily be included in a custom-made safari. Just contact us and our exceptional customer service staff will help you organise a safari to meet your individual wishes and provide you with memories to last a lifetime.