Tarangire Sopa Lodge…
Tarangire Sopa Lodge: Our full report
Situated in a wooded valley in the north-eastern corner of Tanzania’s Tarangire National Park, the 75-room, family-friendly Tarangire Sopa Lodge provides chain hotel-style accommodation in an accessible part of the park.
The main areas, and rooms at the Tarangire Sopa Lodge are designed vaguely in the style of an African village, with circular buildings and tall conical roofs. Built in the 1990s, the décor is looking dated and there is rather a lot of bare concrete surfaces and inelegant structural features. Terracing runs right around the public areas. It’s not graceful, but it is all pleasantly open and airy which, in a hot region, is very welcome.
On arrival (after appreciating the giant elephant-head front aspect of the building with its central trunk and two roofs for ears), you’re greeted by the friendly staff at the reception desk. Opposite the reception is a small curio shop selling nature books and even a small range of toiletries and other essentials. In the middle of this foyer area, there’s a sunken grotto with dusty-looking fountains.
Steps lead down to a large open lounge with plenty of comfortable seating areas. Floor-to-ceiling windows on two sides make this a very light and welcoming area to relax in, with views of the surrounding bush. To one side of the lounge is the bar with a few easy chairs and a snooker table. Tea and coffee are served here all day and cakes are on offer in the afternoon. Opposite the lounge is the restaurant, which is equally light and airy, and which seats up to 150. Parquet flooring and wooden chairs and tables make this a fairly characterless space that lacks much style or colour. At the far end is a large buffet area, from which most meals are served. To the front of the restaurant, glass doors lead onto a terrace overlooking the bush with tables and chairs shaded by umbrellas. To the other side, a door leads from the restaurant to an outdoor dining area, referred to as the barbecue terrace because a barbecue buffet is served here twice a week.
At the far end, to the right of the central area, is a multi-purpose room with DSTV television.
In the gardens, the large circular swimming pool (no lifeguard) is spanned by a wooden bridge to a central island scattered with recliners and parasols – a lovely place to relax and unwind after a day in the bush. Lunch is often served around the pool. At the far end the pool bar is open all day.
A tributary of the Tarangire River runs below the barbecue terrace, with a view of Tarangire Hill in the background.
The 75 rooms at Sopa Lodge are located on either side of the main area and built in blocks of four, with two rooms upstairs and two downstairs on the left wing and blocks of two ground-floor rooms on the right wing. The rooms include two inter-connecting rooms for families and four disabled rooms. On a recent visit in November 2015, they were nearly finished with upgrading all the rooms. The refurbished rooms have terracotta-tiled floors throughout and are entered via a lounge featuring a desk, chair and mirror. In a cabinet is a mini bar, which is filled on request. The wardrobe contains digital safe. Each room has two queen-size beds hung with mosquito nets and scattered with African-print cushions. Behind each bed is a wall light and the bright African prints hanging on the walls add a modern feel. In the corner, are two contemporary upholstered chairs and a small table. Sliding glass doors lead to a small outdoor balcony with two chairs and a table.
The en-suite cream-tile bathrooms are light and modern and equipped with a single basin, toilet and spacious shower with a glass door. Each bathroom has a hairdryer and branded toiletries are also provided. You’ll also find a whistle for calling the night guards’ attention.
All visitors to the Tarangire Sopa Lodge arrive with their own driver and guide for wildlife activities as the lodge has no guides or vehicles of its own.
Our viewAlthough the main areas are dated, the recently renovated rooms are pleasantly decorated and comfortable. The staff are all very friendly and welcoming and the lodge is spotlessly clean and energetically managed. Bearing this in mind, we feel that Tarangire Sopa Lodge is a good option for travellers on a bit of a budget who wish to visit this lesser-known park.
Ideal length of stay: We suggest a two-night stay in order to explore Tarangire National Park.
Directions: Tarangire Sopa Lodge is a two-hour drive from Arusha, or a 40-minute drive from Kuro airstrip, which is located within the park.
Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer
Owner: Sopa Lodges
Staff: Andrew: Manager
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: On a recent visit to Tarangire Sopa Lodge we did not stay long enough to sample a meal. However, the manager explained that meals are usually served buffet style, but when the lodge is not full, lunch and dinner may be presented as a set menu. Dietary requirements are well catered for here.
Breakfast and dinner are served in the main restaurant and lunch is often served outside, by the pool. Twice a week, on Tuesdays and Fridays, a barbecue-buffet dinner is served on the barbecue deck.
There are usually up to five dishes available as main courses, including a pasta dish, a vegetarian dish, one red meat dish, one other meat dish and one dish of local cuisine.
Dining style: Individual Tables
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included
Drinks included: All drinks are charged extra. Soft drinks start from U$2 and wine ranges from U$30 – U$40 a bottle.
Further dining info: Room service is available.
Attitude towards children: Children of all ages are welcome at Tarangire Sopa Lodge
Property’s age restrictions: There is no age limit
Special activities & services: There are a few games available in the main area. A child minder can be arranged, though parents should note that they are not professional child minders and are usually members of staff.
Equipment: Cots and highchairs are available
Generally recommended for children: We would recommend Tarangire Sopa Lodge for families with young children. The pool will keep children occupied when you are not out on safari.
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: Generator
Power supply notes: There’s a generator as well as a diesel boiler for hot water.
Communications: There is Wi-Fi throughout the central areas which is free of charge. There is also a computer in the Wi-Fi Centre, which is chargeable.
TV & radio: There is a satellite TV in the TV room in the main area
Water supply: Borehole
Water supply notes: The lodge has two boreholes and 4 storage tanks of 18,000 litres. Hot water is available from 6am-9am and from 6pm-9pm. Bottled drinking water is supplied to guest – one half-litre bottle per guest per day in the room and free bottles at breakfast.
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: Yes
Medical care: There is a resident medic and a clinical officer on site who can perform first aid and diagnoses. For more urgent medical cases the nearest hospital is in Arusha.
Dangerous animals: High Risk
Security measures: The lodge has guards on duty 24 hours and there is also a resident TANAPA ranger on site. Escorts take guests to and from their rooms after dark.
Fire safety: There are fire extinguishers in the main areas as well as one for every two rooms. There is also a fire alarm and each room has a notice of what to do in case of a fire emergency. Fire-training is regularly carried out and they have monthly evacuation drills.
Disabled access: On Request
Laundry facilities: Laundry is available at an additional cost but is rarely requested as most guests are on overnight stays. It is machine washed and tumble dried, so a same day service is available.
Money: It is possible to exchange US dollars, euros, British pounds and Tanzania shillings. There are digital safes in all the rooms.
Accepted payment on location: Mastercard, Amex and Visa are accepted at no extra cost and cash payments can be made in most major currencies.