Of the three luxury lodges we stayed in, all very different, in some ways Taragire Tented Camp was my favorite.
First, the view is amazing. It overlooks a valley with a couple of rivers in them and you can see impala, zebra, wildebeast, and elephants all traipsing around at wee size, but still totally visible. Almost like action figures. We didn’t see any predators there, other than vultures. It doesn’t look real. You feel like you’re looking down into this “toy” or artificial valley created just for your pleasure viewing, like something out of Star Trek or Harry Potter (oh, HP update — don’t think I’ll find a copy of the new one here in Arusha, I think it will have to wait until Kampala. Am avoiding all news sites until I get a copy).
The camp is made up of a central lodge with overlook, hang-out room, and dining room. Off to each side of this are bungalows (I never saw) and tents (see photos). We were in the last two tents on the end, so it was a bit of a hike. There are absolutely no lights, and even though most people brought flashlights, there were always staff to walk with you after dark All the staff are extremely nice, though this was true everywhere we have been). I suspect they accompany people so the guests don’t do anything stupid if they came upon an animal, more than anything else. Stupid like try to walk up to a cape buffalo for a close-up. There was no question animals came right up to the tents, there was ample elephant dung there to prove it. Imagine an elephant right outside your door!! OK, the dung was a little gross, but it was old enough it didn’t smell. It definitely added to the authenticity.
In fact, you are expressly forbidden from leaving your tent between 11pm and 6am. You are also not allowed to have food of any sort in your tent. There are vervet monkeys all about and they would love to get into your tent. In fact, your tent, which zips up, has a bathroom and shower in back, and while “attached” you have to step out of your zipped tent to get to them. A monkey could easily get in there, which makes late night bathroom breaks extra exciting. Speaking of bathrooms, the water was always hot, and the toilets always flushed (you’d be amazed, but this is not a given, apparently).
So, in each tent are two twin beds (except N who got the honeymoon tent with a king size bed). You zip up the front and back of the tent at night, and can leave open or closed the ‘windows’ on the side. If you leave the outer flaps open, you can watch the sunrise. The tent is surprisingly warm even though it was cool outside. Also it was very quiet. I was expecting a cacophany of noise, but really no noise except something pretty far away.
Zebras actually sound like dogs so that was weird to hear and I swear I heard something killing something around dawn, but no one else did, so it might have just been some normal animal sound that I wasn’t used to.
The food was OK to above-average, but nothing you’d fly half way around the world for. The breakfasts were buffet and dinner was a choice of very limited options (not great for a picky eater like me, but I was OK with entry on one of the two nights). Also, you cannot ask for water with dinner the way you do in the US. If you ask for water, that means a bottle of water, which is 1.5 liters. Unless the whole table is having water, that be a LOT for one person to drink. Mostly people get Coke or Pepsi or wine. The sodas are sweeter than in the US, but relatively the same. The meals were hearty and the breads and fruit always delicious.
There is no electricity in the tents, so if you want to charge something you bring it to the main lodge. From 6pm-11 you can see the powerstrips full of camera batteries, cell phones, and cameras. At one point I needed to charge my ipod and asked they do that behind the desk. I was still nervous about that, but all was well.
In terms of other guests, about half were “older” americans (55-70) who all seemed to be on post-retirement trips. The rest tended to be dutch or german, or the occassional family of parents with teenage or pre-teen kids. Per our driver, most safaris are in English even if the guests are not.
Scale of 1-10: 8.5 in large part because of the view