Top 10 Best Tarangire National Park Safari Camps & Lodges
Philip is an acclaimed travel writer and author of many guidebooks, including the Bradt guides to Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya and South Africa.
Tarangire National Park is the second-largest national park on Tanzania’s famous Northern safari circuit. Despite being less well known than the nearby Serengeti National Park, it supports much higher densities of elephant, making it a thoroughly worthwhile addition to any Tanzanian safari itinerary. Studded with ancient baobab trees, this underrated park is at its best in the Dry season, when large herds of wildlife are attracted to the Tarangire River. Elephants aside, other wildlife includes lion, leopard, buffalo, giraffe, a wide variety of antelope and more than 500 bird species.
When it comes to where to stay in Tarangire, there are numerous lodges and camps from which to choose. Some of these can be found within the national park, while others stand in the various wildlife management areas and community reserves that buffer its borders. Here, in alphabetical order, are 10 of the best Tarangire safari lodges and camps.
Elewana Tarangire Treetops
If you like your accommodation to come with a wow factor, look no further than Elewana Tarangire Treetops. Situated just outside the national park, in a private concession leased from a local Maasai community, this innovative lodge comes across like a setting for an African fairy tale. Sumptuous treehouse-like cottages are made of wood and canvas and perched in the canopy of a grove of ancient baobabs.
This spacious and stylish accommodation makes Elewana Tarangire Treetops one of the best places to stay in Tarangire for honeymooners or jet-lagged new arrivals. And when venturing out, day game drives in the national park can be supplemented by a range of other guided activities within the concession. These include walking safaris, night drives, Maasai village visits and sundowner cocktails on a nearby hill.
If you’ve stayed at any of Nomad Tanzania’s other 13 camps, you’ll head to Kuro Tarangire with high expectations. Once there, we think you're unlikely to be disappointed. This exclusive Tarangire safari camp comprises just six luxurious cottages, all made with canvas, wood, sisal and thatch to create a welcoming organic feel. Kuro is an all-inclusive setup, and the imaginative cuisine, expertly guided activities and attentive service all match up to Nomad Tanzania’s usual high standards.
Lake Burunge Tented Lodge
Comfortable, good value and scenically located, Lake Burunge Tented Lodge is an excellent base for a safari in Tarangire National Park. It stands in a private concession managed by the local Mbugwe people. The luxury tented rooms and cottages have private terraces, while common areas offer a great view over Lake Burunge, a seasonal wildlife magnet that is very popular with elephants. The lodge is also well positioned for game drives, being only 10 minutes from Tarangire’s Sangaiwe Gate.
Among the most exclusive and luxurious of Tarangire safari camps, Nimali stands alongside a baobab-and-acacia-lined riverbed in a private Maasai concession bordering the national park. The ultra-spacious accommodation here is hard to beat: 10 hybrid tents with slate tile floors, earthy decor, state-of-the-art bathrooms and wide private balconies. The dining area and swimming pool overlook a waterhole where elephants often come to drink. Nimali is conveniently located for game drives, and night drives and walking safaris are available within the concession.
Enjoy the simple comforts of a vintage safari at Asilia Africa’s exclusive Oliver’s Camp. Established by the conservationist Paul Oliver in 1992, this pioneering small camp retains an intimate wilderness feel in keeping with its ecofriendly founding values. Because it stands some distance from the main safari circuit, Oliver's can offer a broad range of activities unavailable at most other Tarangire safari camps and lodges.
These activities include expertly guided walking safaris, reliably rewarding night drives, and overnight fly camping. Although Oliver’s is clearly aimed at relatively adventurous travelers, the 10 thatch-shaded tented units are spacious and luxurious, with wide wooden balconies that look out onto the surrounding plains.
Sanctuary Swala Camp
One of the most southerly accommodation options within Tarangire, Swala is a classic safari camp comprising a dozen luxurious tented units. It is tucked away in a tall stand of acacia trees overlooking the Gurusi Swamp and a small waterhole that regularly attracts elephants, lions and leopards. I love the secluded location far from the main game-drive circuit. There’s plenty of wildlife around, but it’s one of the best places to stay in Tarangire if you want to feel like you have the park to yourself. Also very enjoyable are bush dinners in a nearby baobab grove.
Tarangire Kuro Treetops Lodge
Situated in the wildlife-rich heart of the national park, this medium-sized lodge has a wonderful location on a baobab-studded hill overlooking the Tarangire River. Each of the 25 luxury tents stands on a tall stilted platform that incorporates a well-appointed private veranda. Leather and hardwood furnishings, complemented by tasteful touches such as wicker-basket chairs and clawfoot baths, create a classic contemporary feel.
Tarangire Safari Lodge
True, there are more intimate and luxurious Tarangire safari camps and lodges. But Tarangire Safari Lodge remains my personal favorite. Partly it's the peerless setting, high on a ridge overlooking a stretch of the Tarangire River that attracts a steady stream of elephants. I also like the unpretentious vibe that you'd expect of a lodge that's had the same hands-on owner-managers since it opened in 1985. Importantly, Tarangire’s oldest lodge also has a prime position for game drives, a few minutes from a tract of grassland dubbed Little Serengeti. The in-house bird watching is fabulous, and there's a large swimming pool.
Tarangire Simba Lodge
Constructed around one of the giant baobabs for which Tarangire is famous, this classic tented camp stands in a wildlife management area bordering the national park’s Sangaiwe Gate. The 16 spacious safari tents are all sheltered under a thatch roof and perched on a stilted wooden platform offering views toward Lake Burunge. The surrounding area offers excellent wildlife viewing, especially in the Dry season. We particularly like the free-form infinity pool, where you can enjoy a refreshing dip in view of the wildlife that regularly congregates at the waterhole.
Tarangire Sopa Lodge
Tarangire Sopa Lodge is very different from other accommodation in the national park. Containing 75 guest rooms, it is by far the largest of the Tarangire safari lodges. And its physical solidity – structures built with bricks and tiles, rather than canvas and thatch – makes it a reassuring first choice for nervous first-time safari-goers. Other positives include the stunning swimming pool area, the excellent choice of food and a perfect location for exploring the park's most reliably rewarding wildlife-viewing circuit.
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