Gretchen Healey, travel consultant and the newest member of the team at Africa Adventure Consultants just returned from a research and exploratory trip to Tanzania. She was one of the first U.S. Africa specialists to visit the newly renovated Sanctuary Swala Camp in Tarangire National Park. Read on for her complete trip report on Swala, and stay tuned for more details on
Kusini Camp and other lodges in Tanzania that she also visited.
On a recent visit to Tanzania, I stayed in the newly upgraded Swala Camp in the western region of Tarangire National Park. It’s a comfortable and interesting drive from Arusha to the park gate (paved road much of the way until the park). You get to see some of the bustling city and then break into the beautiful, desolate countryside. There, you are treated to wide-open vistas, and frequently see Maasai herding their cattle under the stark African skies.
Once you enter the park, it’s an enjoyable game drive en route to the camp. Swala Camp is set well apart from other camps in the park and has an excellent staff who are attentive and cater to guests every need.
The tents are roomy and well-thought-out with luxurious linens and elegant finishes, and the en suite outdoor showers are wonderful to experience, though there are indoor showers for the less adventurous. The roof and walls are canvas, but the en-suite bathrooms are cement. There are a desk and a small sitting area in each tent as well. They have both twin and double-bedded tents and can add an additional single bed to either tent configuration as needed. The tents at Swala have a very plush and indulgent feel to them. It would be an ideal camp to luxuriate in during a honeymoon.
Swala has a small shop with artistic gift items as well as free internet access (one workstation) that is reasonably speedy for being in the middle of the bush! There are plenty of imposing and stunning baobab trees in the camp, one of which shaded my outdoor shower. They were in bloom during our visit, with gorgeous flowers the nearly the size of dinner plates!
The dining area, lounge, pool and campfire area are situated to take advantage of viewing animals, especially the impala and vervet monkeys that seem ever-present. I enjoyed watching the monkeys play amongst the treetops and wrestle each other on the deck of my tent. I woke one morning to nearly one hundred impala with their young quietly browsing past my bedroom window.
The food was excellent with several fresh and delicious choices for each meal. They even have a pizza oven, which they fire up several times a week for pizza snacks with sundowners and fresh breads, which was an unexpected surprise. The lounge is open to the bush, with comfortable seating both indoors and out and is the perfect casual space to enjoy sundowners and snacks. The dining area is also open and meals take place both within the dining structure and out on the verandah. The campfire is the perfect spot to enjoy an after-dinner libation or a very early morning cup of Tanzania’s wonderful coffee.
We had excellent sightings while at Swala, from masked weavers building their nests to hundreds upon hundreds of Tarangire’s famed elephants (with lots of babies!), and leopard napping in trees during the heat of the day. We also saw a venue of vultures feeding on an impala carcass which was a truly unique sighting. One day we were fortunate to enjoy a bush breakfast at a remote picnic site where we were able to enjoy the immensity of the park while overlooking a large plain full of elephants.
The stay felt very exclusive as we rarely saw other vehicles in this remote area of the park and we were so well cared for by Swala’s staff. The animal viewing was varied and plentiful and the scenery in the park is incredibly beautiful. Swala Camp is a gem within Tanzania’s diverse Tarangire National Park!