The headwaters of the Tarangire River are in the highlands and escarpments of Babati District of the Manyara Region and Kondoa District of the Dodoma Region, primarily the Irangi Hills and Irangi Escarpment in Kondoa District. The river rises in the Wasi Highlands, falls down the eastern Kondoa Escarpment. It flows east to Chubi where it then turns north to flow through Tarangire National Park.
Much of the Tarangire River headwaters in the Irangi Hills headwaters area is forested with Miombo woodland habitat trees and lower plants, that are designated for protection within the Salanka, Bereko, and Isabe Forest Reserves. Deforestation for agriculture and degradation of forests in the Irangi Hills and along the Irangi Escarpment is contributing to reductions in the Tarangire River's watershed function and aquifer recharge.
The discharge in the Tarangire River is highly seasonal and varies annually. In the wet season, rainfall in the Irangi Hills and throughout the catchment causes a high rate of flow with rapid rises and falls in water level. Rainfall occurs almost exclusively in November–January and March–May. It is highly variable, with a mean total annual rainfall of 656 millimetres (25.8 in) (coefficient of variation = 36.4%, range 313–1,322). River flow in the dry season is slow (about 0.005 cubic meters per second) and steadily decreasing as water is released from sediments, until long stretches of the riverbed are dry.
- Lake Manyara — prehistoric lake in area.
- Tarangire Ecosystem — also known as the Masai Steppe + Tarangire-Manyara Ecosystem.
- Lamprey, H. F. (1963). "The Tarangire Game Reserve". Tanganyika Notes and Records. 60: 10–22.
- Gereta, Emmanuel; Meing’ataki, Godwell Elias Ole; Mduma, Simon; Wolanski, Eric (2004). "The role of wetlands in wildlife migration in the Tarangire ecosystem, Tanzania". Wetlands Ecology and Management. 12 (4): 285–299. doi:10.1007/s11273-005-3499-2. ISSN 0923-4861.
- Charnley, S. and Overton, R., 2006. United States Forest Service–African Wildlife Foundation Collaboration Technical Assistance for Forest Management Planning in the Tarangire River Headwaters, Kondoa District, Tanzania.
- Foley, Charles A. H.; Faust, Lisa J. (2010-04-01). "Rapid population growth in an elephant Loxodonta africana population recovering from poaching in Tarangire National Park, Tanzania". Oryx. 44 (2): 205–212. doi:10.1017/S0030605309990706. ISSN 1365-3008.