The second lodge I photographed in Tanzania for Sanctuary Retreats was the mystical Swala. Tarangire is one of the least visited parks in the country so it was a great privilege to shoot there. The park is known for its Baobabs and Elephants, both of which there are plenty, making for beautiful photography in almost every direction you look. Apart from the Baobabs, the Acacias tower over every land mammal including the elephants and make you feel as if you have been dropped into the movie “Honey I shrunk the kids”. I have never seen such tall trees in my life.
The lodge is in a secluded part of the park overlooking a waterhole. Looking out of your luxury tent you can be sure to see your ellie neighbours at almost every time of the day, but especially as the sun rises and sets you’ll see the herds march towards the water. Coffee in the morning has never been better.
The great thing about Swala is that you really don’t have to leave the lodge to see the wildlife. Lions, leopard, elephants and buffalo are common sightings around the lodge. I woke up a few times in the nights I was shooting there to the sounds of impala alarm calling and scattering. During the night a leopard had made a kill right next to my tent and dragged it to a nearby tree. You couldn’t get closer to nature if you tried.
Leaving the lodge on game drive you drive through swamps and hilly outcrops, dense bush and open plains. The variety of landscapes in this park is unlike any other I have seen in Tanzania. My favourite sighting, (and I was lucky enough to have this sighting to myself) was the hundreds of buffalo and elephants slooshing through the emerald green swamp in a secluded part of the park. Thoughts of the Okavango rushed through my mind only to look up again and see the roughly translated, ‘Mountain of ants’ in the background and I soon realised again I was in the middle of Tanzania. Like I said before the different types of landscapes in Tarangire are really quite special.
The actual lodge is one of the most beautiful I have seen as well. Each luxury tent is bound to be on, near or even built onto a Baobab and the circular design brings a modern twist to East African styled tents. If you’re looking to wind down and really be one with nature, Swala is the place to do it.