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 and dotted with baobabs, which are a common feature in Tarangire. This permanent tented camp was completely rebuilt in 2009 and offers high-quality accommodation, with good resident game – impala, elephant and waterbuck which are attracted to its artificial waterhole.
The main communal areas at Swala Camp are raised up on wooden platforms under a large baobab tree and are very stylish indeed. Under an open-sided thatched structure, with ochre and white walls, you'll find plenty of large comfy sofas, coffee tables and armchairs; most are pale cream or white, which were spotless, bearing in mind its open bush location! This area is perfect for cooling off in the heat of the day. In front is a wooden deck with cane sofas, from where you can watch passing game and the waterhole beyond. When we last visited in July 2013 we saw a small herd of impala as well as some waterbuck grazing in front of the camp. The manager also told us that lion had been seen in camp the day before and that there had been a cheetah kill right in front of the camp the previous week.
The dining area is similar in style – open on three sides with a large deck out the front. Polished wooden floors, black tables with cane high back chairs and stylish decor give it a very contemporary feel. Individual tables are laid out either under cover or out on the open deck. To the side of the deck is even a pizza oven which is used occasionally!
To the side of the main area you'll find the swimming pool, surrounded by a number of comfortable-looking sunloungers overlooking the plains – which looked very inviting indeed! There is also a small partially enclosed hut with a couple more sunloungers for those who would prefer to sit in the shade.
The 12 rooms at Swala Camp are located under shady acacia trees and 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. Some of the rooms are built around ancient baobab trees – one of the rooms even has an outdoor seat built around the baobab tree. You can enter the tents either through the zipped canvas flaps on the front deck, or through proper locking doors at the back or the side.
Scrubbed white floorboards, a couple of white armchairs, and a large king-size bed (some rooms also have twin beds) with white linen and swathed in mosquito netting lend a very fresh and simple feel to the rooms. Beside each bed is a bedside table with table lamps and there are also modern l.e.d. (not sure how this should be written!) reading lights over the beds. At the front of each room is a deck with a couple of chairs (once again white!). Behind the bed is the bathroom area, separated by cupboards to hang your clothes. There are twin basins recessed into a wooden unit beneath a large mirror. To one side you'll find the toilet in a separate room, and behind another door is the shower. A door from the indoor shower leads through to a vast outdoor rainshower – surrounded by wicker fencing for added privacy. Toiletries and bathrobes are provided.
Each room has a hairdryer, electronic safe, fans above the beds – and even a yoga mat! There are also plugpoints for recharging batteries.
Although most guests arrive here with their own driver guide, Swala Camp has its own vehicles for guests to use on activities, and guides. The current manager (July 2013) is a professional trails guide. However, due to current problems with TANAPA (Tanzanian National Parks Authorities) it is not possible to do walking safaris from Swala, although they are hoping that this will be resolved in the near future. Please ask us for further details. Night drives are also possible at an extra cost; in 2013 this was US$80 per person.
It is also possible for guests to visit a local village near Mameri, just outside Tarangire, a 30 minute drive from Swala. The camp also has a bee-conservation project here which guests are welcome to visit.
Our viewSwala Camp is a very well-run camp. The service is friendly and the rooms and main areas very stylish and decorated in a contemporary African design. It would make a good base for a couple of nights to explore Tarangire National Park – and is located in the quieter southern area of the park. This means that it takes longer to reach than the camps around Tarangire's busier northern edge, but also that game-viewing experience here is much better than experienced at the camps in the north of the park, as you'll be aware of few other vehicles.
Ideal length of stay: Stay at Swala for at least two nights, possibly three, to explore the great game in Tarangire National Park.
Directions: Swala Camp is 45 minutes from Kuro airstrip, in Tarangire, or a leisurely three hour game drive from Tarangire’s main gate to the north of the park.
Owner: Sanctuary Retreats
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: When we last visited Swala Camp in July 2013 we did not stay for a meal, however the manager explained what guests could expect to eat.
Breakfast is a choice of a fruit platter, cereals and yoghurts, freshly baked breads and muffins. This is followed by a cooked breakfast to order.
Lunch is a three-course menu served with freshly baked bread. A starter is followed by two options for the main – a vegetable and a meat dish, and finished with a desert.
Dinner is similar to the lunch menu, but there is a choice of three mains – a vegetarian dish, red meat and white meat or fish, served with vegetables.
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.
Property’s age restrictions: Children under 12 are not accepted however younger children are accepted at the camps discretion.
Special activities & services: There are no special activities for children at Swala 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.
Notes: Children will need to be constantly supervised by their parents as the camp is not fenced in and game wanders freely throughout day and night.
Power supply: Combination of power
Power supply notes: The generator is on for a few hours in the morning and again in the afternoon and batteries are used outside this period. Wood burners are used for hot water.
Communications: There is WiFi in the reception areas at Swala Camp and they have a computer which guests can use free of charge. Cellphone reception is very patchy at Swala and can only be received in certain parts of the camp.
TV & radio: There is no TV or radio.
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: 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 where there is a hospital and medical facilities.
Dangerous animals: High Risk
Security measures: They have three askaris (Maasai guards) patrolling at night, and a TANAPA ranger is permanently based in the camp.
Fire safety: There are fire extinguishers in all the rooms and the main areas.
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 and soap is provided in the rooms for guests to wash these themselves.
Money: There are safes in all the rooms at Swala Camp. They can exchange a very small amount of money if really needed.
Accepted payment on location: Swala will accept MasterCard and Visa with a surcharge of 5.5%. There is a minimum charge of U$50 to pay by card. They accept cash payments in pounds sterling, US dollars, Euros and Tanzanian shillings.