Swala stands in the remote south-west corner of Tarangire National Park.
Swala Camp: Our full report
On the edge of the Gursi Swamp, in the far south-west of Tarangire National Park, Swala Camp sits in a quiet area, amidst an area of open grassland, under an elegant grove of tall Acacia tortillis trees. This permanent tented camp was rebuilt in 2009 and offers high-quality accommodation and food, with good resident game – impala, elephant and waterbuck – attracted to its artificial waterhole. Excellent birdlife can be seen here, too, and mongooses and monkeys play around the camp.
The main communal areas at Swala Camp are very stylish indeed. Under an open-sided thatched structure you’ll find plenty of large comfy sofas, coffee tables and armchairs; most are pale cream or white, which we thought must be a lot of work to keep clean, but they were spotless! This area is perfect for cooling off in the heat of the day. Just in front is a wooden veranda with more sofas, from where you can watch passing game – when we last visited in October 2011 we enjoyed watching impala grazing and baboons playing in the trees.
The dining area is similar in style – with open sides and a large veranda out the front. Polished wooden floors, black tables and stylish decorations give a very contemporary feel.
Slightly away from these areas you’ll find the pool, surrounded by a number of comfy-looking sunloungers and looking over the plains – which looked very inviting indeed! When we last visited the camp was having problems with bees coming to drink from the pool water, but the camp’s bee-conservation programme (which guests are welcome to visit) were working on relocating the hives.
The 12 rooms at Swala Camp are spread along sandy pathways to one side of the main area. Raised on wooden platforms, they are part canvas, part stone structures, and their elegant style is very much in keeping with that of the main area. You can enter the tents either through the zipped canvas flaps on the veranda, or through proper locking doors at the back.
Scrubbed white floorboards, a couple of white armchairs, and a large white king-size bed swathed in a mosquito net lend a very fresh and simple feel to the rooms. At the front of each is a veranda with a couple of chairs (once again white!). Behind the bed is the bathroom area, where there’s cupboard space to hang your clothes and twin sinks beneath a large mirror. To one side you’ll find the toilet in a separate room, and to the other, the door to the shower. A small indoor shower leads through to a vast outdoor rainshower – surrounded by wicker fencing for added privacy.
Each room has a hairdryer, electronic safe, fans above the beds – and even a yoga mat!
Although most guests arrive here with their own driver guide, Swala Camp has three of its own vehicles for guests to use on activities, and one guide. One of the managers is a professional trails guide, so they’re hoping to run walking from here in the near future. Ask us for details. Night drives are also possible at an extra cost; in 2011 this was US$80 per person.
Our viewSwala Camp is a very well-run camp. The service was friendly, the food excellent, and the rooms and main areas very stylish. It would make a good base for a couple of nights to explore Tarangire National Park – and is located in a quiet area, deep within the park. This means that it takes longer to reach than the camps around Tarangire’s northern edge, but also that game-viewing whilst you’re here is a much better experience, as you’ll be aware of few other vehicles.
Ideal length of stay: Stay at Swala for at least two nights to explore the great game of Tarangire and enjoy a few hours relaxing in camp and watching the passing game.
Directions: Swala Camp is 45 minutes from Kuro airstrip.
Owner: Sanctuary Retreats
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: When we last visited Swala Camp we were able to stay for lunch – and the food was excellent. The manager also explained what to expect at other meals.
Breakfast is a buffet of cereals, fruit and yoghurt, then you are free to order a cooked breakfast as you wish.
Lunch is a three-course menu with two options for the main – a vegetable and a meat dish. In 2011 we enjoyed a chilled carrot and orange soup to start, then a choice of either chipati – either spinach and mushroom or chicken tikka – followed by a meringue and fruit. All were delicious!
Dinner is similar to the lunch menu, but there is a choice of three mains – a vegetarian, a red meat and a white meat.
Dining style: Individual Tables
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included
Drinks included: Most drinks are included apart from premium wines and spirits.
Attitude towards children: Swala Camp markets itself as an adult camp.
Equipment: There is no special equipment for children.
Generally recommended for children: Swala Camp has quite a sophisticated and adult atmosphere so is not really suitable for children.
Power supply: Generator
Communications: There is WiFi in the reception areas at Swala Camp and they have a laptop which guests can use.
TV & radio: There is no TV or radio.
Health & safety
Malarial area: Yes
Medical care: There is a basic first-aid kit at Swala Camp and the manager is first-aid trained. For serious emergencies they would drive you to Kuro airstrip for a flight to Arusha.
Dangerous animals: High Risk
Security measures: They have three askaris (Maasai guards) patrolling at night, and a TANAPA ranger.
Fire safety: There are fire extinguishers in all the rooms.
Disabled access: On Request
Laundry facilities: A laundry service is included. Clothes are handwashed and line dried; as with most camps in Tanzania, underwear is not accepted.
Money: There are safes in all the rooms at Swala Camp. They can exchange a very small amount of money if really needed.