Mahree’s Tanzanian Safari – Part II

December 30, 2013  By: Gretchen

Mahree Tara zebbieWe’re armchair traveling with Mahree, AAC’s Safari Account Executive. She spent a few glorious weeks in Tanzania last month, and is sharing her adventures with us on the Safari Journal Blog.

It was on December 9th, 1961 that Tanganyika gained its independence.  Zanzibar followed on December 10th, 1963. These two nations would merge in 1964 to create Tanzania; a combination of the two names. Oh how I fell in love with this country of Tanzania and its adjacent island of Zanzibar last month. Yes, I’m still enamored, ready for more. Africa still affects me like no other continent I’ve visited.

After spending one blissful night in Arusha (jet-lag, what jet lag?) I embarked with a small group to Tarangire National Park. From the town of Arusha, this is a mere 20 minute flight or about a 3 ½ hour drive. We flew from Arusha into the northeastern section of the park for our visit to Sanctuary Swala.Mahree Tarangire swamp

There are some places you dream of visiting and some places that are like dreams you’d never imagined. Tarangire was such a place for me – dream-like.

Before we touched the ground, I spotted huge herds of elephants and buffalo grazing below. Yes, we’d spotted 2 out of the big 5 before touching the ground. As we embarked upon our first game drive, I was smitten with this magical park; rich with golden grasses, red earth, and lush green swampland. Acacias and enormous baobab trees sprouted from the ground.

Mahree Ter_giraffeWildlife was abundant; zebras, elephants, giraffe and buffalo seemed to be around every corner. Too many species of antelope to count leapt through the fields. Our guide quickly spotted two lionesses dozing in the shade and soon after another sleeping feline – a gorgeous leopard sprawled out in an acacia tree. All this before we made it to camp!

We stopped for a gourmet picnic overlooking a lush green vista where elephants grazed, hippos snorted, and hundreds of birds filled the skies.Mahree impala

I was blissed out and completely relaxed, as we approached Sanctuary Swala Camp. Swala means antelope in Swahili and the name couldn’t have been more appropriate. Sweet, doe-eyed impala strolled through camp, and vervet monkeys played in the trees. Again, this struck me as a fairy tale come to life. The elegant camp is built among huge baobabs and acacias. The tented chalets and main lodge face out toward the bush and a water hole which is always teeming with wildlife.

Mahree Swala tentThe main lodge and the tented chalets are luxurious. The décor is African contemporary chic; an array of earthy, textured fabrics, artifacts, and locally made pottery and crafts. The twelve pavilions are spacious with wooden floors and canvas sidings and tops. There are king sized or single beds, desks, sofas and chairs, and en suite bathrooms. Each contains both an indoor and an outdoor shower. My outdoor shower was shaded by an enormous, blooming baobab tree. The act of bathing under the stars or beneath this blossoming giant was a luxury in itself. To top it off, each of the tents is serviced by its own personal attendant.Mahree Tar_picnic_2

After our epic game viewing, an absolutely luscious meal facing the bush and tales around the campfire, I made my way to my chalet under a sky full of blazing stars.  Yes, I could have stayed forever. A warm, fluffy bed awaited; all the comforts of home without the chatter and blare of a television or computer. I slept like I haven’t slept in months.

In the morning I awoke refreshed. Rich African coffee and freshly baked biscuits were delivered to my door. I sat on my balcony and watched the sun coming up over the bush, waterbuck strolling toward to waterhole, and guarded my biscuits from the impish vervet monkey peering around the corner.

Refreshed, I was ready to go exploring again or I would have been happy to sit on my balcony, and watch the wildlife come to me. Tarangire – a place I now shall dream of regularly.