Taraganire, Sanctuary Swala

Our next stop was Sanctuary Swala, an Abercrombie & Kent Lodge, located in a secluded part of Tarangire National Park. At the top end of the market, it has twelve luxurious canvas pavilions, all shaded by acacia trees and with views over the plains in front of camp.

We reached Sanctuary Swala from Dar es Salaam with flights via Zanzibar, Arusha and Kuro. We were picked up by our guide at Kuro and had a game drive en-route to the lodge. The airstrip was 45 minutes from the lodge, and the tsetse flies were particularly bad in the afternoons

The individual tents are luxurious and well furnished with a spacious open plan arrangement with comfortable king bed, campaign chairs and sofas and an en-suite bathroom. They are spread along sandy pathways to one side of the main area and hence are some distance from the main reception area. You need a security man each night after dinner to escort you back to your tent in the dark..

The main area is situated under a big baobab tree. The dining area, lounge, deck and small library all feature a contemporary African design with a traditional thatched roof. This main area is lifted on stilts allowing a wide view of the grasslands of the Tarangire in front of the camp. Wi-Fi is available in the main area and in guests' tents.

The dining area is open on three sides with a large deck at the front – and its polished wooden floors, black tables with cane high-back chairs and contemporary decor. Individual tables are laid out either under cover, or out on the open deck.

The lodge itself was very luxurious, but did not seem to have anyone actually in charge. The very nice Tanzanean staff had nobody to guide then. On our lst morning we did meet the manager who was conducting early morning game walks, who explained that the company ws trying to "tanzaneanise" the lodge management. If that is the case, then they have some way to go. There is more to guest interaction that asking "Did you sleep well" on countless occasions.

The food here was good. Breakfast is a combination of buffet and sit down. Monkeys were a problem, they stole a yoghurt from in front of our noses on the first breakfast - the thief was up a tree with the pot in no time and had the lid off in even less time. Dinners were sit down and very nice.

Cynical use of marketing of a pool that you cannot use

Sanctuary use a rather enticing photo of the infinity edge pool overlooking the water hole (above ) , where elephants can be seen drinking. The rub is that for the majority of clients using the lodge, it is impossible to use the pool. When we were there, the pool was closed because thousands of bees ( below) come to drink the water, the pool being the only readily available source of water for miles around in the dry season. And, secondly, because elephants came several times a day to drink the pool water and slosh mud into the pool, so it is very dirty.

Our initial briefing on arrival told us all about the pool rules, but when we asked to use it, we were told that it was closed. I then spoke at length to the staff and determined the the pool has been virtually permanently closed for a couple of years. However the Sanctuary Marketing Dept refuse to remove the photo of the pool from publicity because it is so photogenic. I would suggest that the company removes reference to the pool in its advertising. They have built up an expectation that cannot be delivered. As an aside, we could not use the external shower in our tent because of the number of bees

There is certtainly a wide selection of game in Tarangire

 

The lake photos are at Mayana, rather than Targanire. We passed through Mayana on the way from Tarangire to Ngorongoro.The birds were impressive, but the park itself was overrun with too many tourist vehicles crammed into the limited road space available.

 

This was a remarkable confrontation between a lion and a herd of elephants. The elephants saw off the lioness, and she slinked back to where she had left her two cubs

       

Three sightings of leopards. The first a distant head, barle visible above the grass. The other two were difficult to photograph as they obviously are not out in the sun, and are hidden in their tree.

Male ostriches go red in the neck when about to mate !

From here it was on to Ngorongoro

Tanzania