The gnarled branches of majestic acacia tortillis trees suspend an overhead sunshade of knotted twigs and draping vines; the dense canopy filters all but a few stray beams of the sunlight above. Spotted shadows slink in the undergrowth and beady eyes glint from the trees. Moods shift with the play of light through beards of moss and lichen. This ancient forest, full of charm and mystique, plays host to one of the most enchanting lodges in Northern Tanzania - Swala Tented Lodge. Gursi Swamp lies nearby; rich with precious resources during the dry season, this marshy refuge lures the animals of Tarangire with a promise of life-giving moisture. The intimate Swala Tented Lodge, also known as Swala Camp, is the best kept secret inside Tarangire National Park. This property consists of just twelve (12) luxury tents, and offers the ultimate in seclusion, personalized service, and authentic safari ambience under canvas. As you gaze upon a procession of lumbering elephants to the waterhole just a few feet away from your tent, it will not take long for you to realize that the wildlife viewing alone is superb here as well! "Swala" is actually the Swahili word for "antelope" or "impala", and there is no shortage of these graceful animals flitting through the nearby trees. Upon your arrival at Swala, you will be escorted to your own private tent. Enclosed in authentic canvas, each tent has a permanent backing and is raised on a heavy wooden platform. There is an elegance in the simplicity of the furnishings here; nothing is complicated or fussy at Swala, but it is obvious that every thoughtful detail is deliberately placed to bring pleasure and comfort. A delicate quail feather is tied to a parchment scroll of common Swahili translations and placed on your nightstand. A plush cotton robe hangs outside the shower. Delicate soaps are situated with care on your washbasin. Impala frolic outside your private veranda, the warm wind whistles outside your cozy canvas walls, and civilization itself seems worlds away. Pictures and words alone cannot do this Lodge justice. Swala fosters an intangible ambience, appealing to all the senses, which must be experienced as a whole to be fully appreciated. Maybe it is the herd of giant elephants milling right next to your tent, or the organic aroma of an ancient forest, or the ancient air of a forgotten time. Maybe it is the dancing light of bonfire underneath the towering acacia totillis trees, or the delectable four-course gourmet meal by candlelight, or the intimacy of being miles from civilization. Maybe it is the gracious service, or the authentic ambience of sleeping under canvas, or the reverberation of lions roaring in the night. MAYBE it is the pleasure of having all this PLUS all the luxuries of a five star hotel! But one thing is certain...the safari experience we call "Swala" will surely get under your skin and into your soul. No matter what other fabulous safari stories you accumulate throughout the duration of your time in Tanzania, you will never forget your stay here at Swala Tented Lodge.
The elegant Swala Camp offers the ultimate hideaway inside Tarangire National Park. The camp is tucked in the remote southwestern corner of Tarangire far from the larger tourist Lodges, including Tarangire Sopa Lodge and Tarangire Safari Camp. This area of the park offers the perfect safari hideaway and excellent wildlife viewing! The next closest lodge is Mawe Ninga Camp at about a one-hour game drive away, which means you will likely have this slice of heaven all to yourself.
Swala Camp looks east over the Gursi Swamp. The Gursi Swamp acts as a giant sponge soaking up water in the green season and then slowly releasing it during the dry season. The Gursi Swamp is one of the few sources of permanent water in the Tarangire ecosystem besides the Tarangire River, Silale Swamp and Lormakau Swamp. Massive concentrations of wildlife migrate to these few water sources during the dry season allowing for spectacular game viewing.
The Swala Lodge consists of just nine, well-appointed luxury tents with en suite bathrooms tucked under several magnificent acacia trees. The small size of the Lodge provides for a very intimate and personal experience. Each tent is spaced throughout the acacia trees to ensure complete privacy. Describing the rooms as tents is probably misleading and a better description might be luxury cabins under canvas. Regardless, the tents are elevated on a wooden foundation and each is tastefully decorated with hardwood furnishing in grand safari fashion. The back of the tent includes the en-suite bathroom, which consists of a separate flush toilet and shower on either side of the washbasin.
The nicest feature about Swala compared to some other tented lodges in Tarangire is that each tent does contain a proper flushing toilet and shower (bladder showers or thunder box toilets are not employed as there is normal plumbing). Our favorite aspect of the Lodge is the raised private veranda at the front of each tent. It is possible to continue your safari experience after your game drive and enjoy the landscape and resident animals from the comfort and privacy of your own veranda. The main Lodge structure is centrally located among the twelve luxury tents. This area includes the dining tent, campfire, bar and main viewing deck. The campfire and lounge area offer a great place to mingle with other guests and share the safari highlights for the day. Water is pumped into a waterhole near the main Lodge and is a major reason why wildlife viewing is so great from camp during the dry season.
For your safety, Askaris (Masai warriors) will accompany you at night when walking to and from the main Lodge. Though it is a very short walk to the main Lodge facilities, it is important that you have an escort at night when going to and from dinner.
Swala Camp (altitude of 3,522 feet) and Tarangire are usually incorporated into our signature fly in and drive back safaris at the conclusion of your itinerary. It's certainly a great spot to unwind, relax and enjoy your last couple nights with the elephants of Tarangire. Typically you will be arriving at Swala Camp after either a game drive in Ngorongoro Crater or Lake Manyara. It takes approximately 1.5 hours to drive from the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater to the Lake Manyara park gate. The Tarangire park gate is another 1.5 hours past Lake Manyara. From the Tarangire park gate to your accommodations at Swala will take approximately 2 hours at a leisurely game drive speed as you head south through Tarangire. Swala Camp is approximately 21 miles south of the main Tarangire gate, which is at the northern tip of the park.
Food and Drink
Excellent food and superb service are two of the hallmarks at Swala Camp. Steaming hot coffee or tea and cookies will be delivered to your tent each morning at an agreed upon wake up call time. You may quietly enjoy the African morning from your private veranda before heading up to the main tent for breakfast. Breakfast is quite a spread and is served mixed buffet style. There is a selection of fresh fruit, cereals, cheeses and juices. Orders will be taken for eggs, pancakes, bacon etc. and made to your liking. There are two choices for lunch. You can either drive back to the Lodge for a hot lunch or have a private picnic lunch while on safari. The lunch picnics are well catered to and include an assortment of pasta, sandwiches, cheeses and fresh fruit, bundled in authentic picnic baskets with genuine tableware. Dinner is the main event at Swala Camp and it is quite a feast indeed! Served by the warm ambience of candlelight in open air dining, dinner consists of four delicious courses. The meal is paired with fine South African wines. The soups at Swala are especially delectable! The menu varies daily on a 7-day rotation, and vegetarian dishes are available. There is a good variety of beer, wine, and spirits available, and most are included in your safari package. Just before dinner on each night, a roaring campfire is set up where you can enjoy appetizers and drinks as the colors of sunset fade to stars.
- Sleeping accommodations consist of 12 luxury safari tents
- Swala Lodge was completely renovated in 2009
- Common areas consist of a main dining area with outdoor terrace, lounge/library with outdoor deck and campfire area
- Waterhole (pumped with water daily) for animals to drink from, viewable from each private tent
- Infinity Swimming Pool overlooking water-hole
- Complimentary Internet service (2 community computers at reception)
- Complimentary Laundry service
- All beverages including soft drinks, beer, house wine, and spirits are included in your safari package
- Proper picnic lunches with baskets and real tableware
- Exceptional wildlife viewing from Lodge
- A full library of books on Africa and board games are available in the lounge
- Optional visit to a local school
- Walking Safaris (at additional cost)
- Night game drives (at additional cost)