My experience of Kuro Tarangire
I was excited about returning to Tarangire National Park as I had really enjoyed the camp at which I had stayed on my previous visit some 10 years ago. On my recent trip, I found my bush home – Kuro Tarangire – was again a real highlight. We have worked with Nomad Tanzania for more than two decades but this was my first taste of staying in one of their properties. It was an incredible experience, and over a two-night stay, we did not see another car or tourist.
Tarangire is about an hour and a half’s drive from Arusha, where many people choose to spend a night to regroup after their journey. From the park gate, your safari begins at once and it is about another hour and a half south to Kuro. On our way there, we saw a relaxed group of elephants drinking from shallow pools in a sandy riverbed flanked by baobab trees. We also observed herds of impala, before stumbling across a most unusual sight – a leopard stalking across the dry, open plains in broad daylight.
Later that evening, we went for a lovely drive and saw lions and waterbuck, among other antelope. We watched some large herds of elephants with little ones emerging from the Silale Swamp at dusk, after a day’s wallowing in the cool water, and then dusting themselves down with earth. The far-reaching sunset views over the vivid-green lagoon were magnificent.
On a night drive back to camp, we came across a couple of cheetah, one with its jaws clamped around the neck of an impala – again, hardly a normal sighting. The cat action was all topsy-turvy in Tarangire, keeping us on our toes. What’s more, all this time, we had not seen another vehicle.
The wildlife really peaks between July and November here, and some of the herds of wildebeest, zebra and elephants disperse, but visiting outside those months shouldn’t be discounted, as there are always some elephants, lions and leopards. The other advantage of travelling out of the main season is that there will be no one else around.
Kuro Tarangire is a permanent camp, so it is really comfortable and yet retains an authentic atmosphere; there’s a rustic feel to the mess area and a great campfire set-up under the stars. The decor was very pretty, with subtle, pastel-coloured textiles, touchy-feely fabrics, sheepskin seat covers, colourful glassware and beaded decorations. Quite simply, it was beautifully thought-out, with a design that focused on being as close to nature as possible and bringing the outside inside.
I sadly missed the first morning’s activity, a guided bush walk, due to the onset of a stinking cold, so I took it easy that morning, which goes against all my principles. In my 25 years of going on safari, I have only ever skipped one morning game drive. What if my fellow guests saw something rare and amazing and that’s all they could talk about for the rest of the week? However, I could not have wished for a better tent in which to wake up to the many sights and sounds of the African wilderness.
After tea was delivered to my tent at 6am, I lay in my very comfortable bed and was able to view the bush all around me, as all sides of the tent were made of mesh right up to the high A-frame thatched roof. The magical dawn chorus, with all its weird and wonderful variety, set my mind boggling at which birds could possibly be making the myriad noises. Some of the smaller ones came to wash in a birdbath in front of my bed and fluttered their iridescent wings in the golden morning light.
As I poured another cup of tea and got back into bed, I spotted one of my favourite antelope species: a spotted bushbuck. Normally so shy, it came right up to my tent. It was delightful to watch it drink and quietly move around, totally undisturbed by my presence. Moments later, I observed a bachelor herd of impala slowly grazing through the trees and looking very relaxed around the camp. It wasn’t long before I saw a few zebra nonchalantly following suit.
I have come across ‘sofa safaris’ before, but I felt I was taking it to a whole new level, as I flitted between my bed and the equally inviting daybed on my private deck. With my binoculars around my neck, I re-acquainted myself with the wonderful range of birds all around me, ever wondering what might appear next. Savouring every minute in my new surroundings, my shoulders began to drop down after the stresses of city life and airports.
Soon, I was raring to go once more. Africa has that immediate effect of making you ‘live in the present’, as your senses awaken and you are immersed in the wonder and awe of the natural environment. I enjoyed an outdoor shower, still looking out for wildlife, before joining the others at the mess. They had indeed had a lovely walk, and the guide’s knowledge and enthusiasm had blown them away, but thankfully, they had not stumbled across a lioness or any adorable cubs in my absence. And even if they had, I do not think I would have minded. I was thrilled with my morning encircled by nature and I could not think of a more glorious spot to start a safari and unwind. I felt as though I had just had my very first game experience all over again, this time from my bed.