It was around 4.30 pm by the time we started driving towards the Tarangire Safari Lodge where we would be spending the night. On our drive back we saw plenty of giraffes, impalas, elephants, zebras and wildebeests up close. The sky was overcast and there was a cool breeze caressing our faces adding to our enjoyment. On reaching the lodge, we had a warm welcome and was allocated tent number 15. At the lobby, after the customary Swahili greetings (which I am proud to say we did not mess up this time around) and refreshments, we were briefed on the do’s and dont’s. I was happy to know that there was electricity, albeit for a limited time as it meant I could do my bed time reading. We were strictly asked to stay within the lodge limits as we were still in the national park and there could be wild animals lurking around. The upsetting news was the instruction to leave behind all the food items in the vehicle to fend off monkeys from entering the tent. Say good bye to snacking!
This was my first experience staying in a tent and I admit that I was a little anxious. But, on seeing the tent, all my anxieties vanished leaving just excitement behind. Each tent consisted of a small portico with two chairs, a bedroom with a table, a small dressing area with mirrors and an attached bathroom and toilet. The tents in the lodge were not mobile as the bathroom and the toilet were permanent structures. We were fascinated with the facilities in the tent which truly exceeded our expectations! I was most impressed with the hot water shower as I am a hot water junkie. What could beat hot water, plush mattresses and flushing toilet in the middle of nowhere? Only one thing- the million dollar view!
The entire lodge was located on a cliff overlooking the Tarangire river and its banks. Our tent overlooked the river as it meandered towards us from the horizon. I could see wildebeests drinking in the river and grazing by the riverside. Near our tent, there were a few impalas grazing. I heard some racket and turned around to see four dik-diks running away from a shrub near us. The overall experience of the stay made us more connected to nature. I was happy that we did not choose to stay in any hotel.
As I had lugged around quite a few books with me for the trip against the better judgement of my husband (yes, I am accepting that he was right for once), I sat down in the portico with a book in my hand trying to convince him that I was reading. The view was so stunning that however hard I tried, my eyes did not even glance through the pages.My husband went to the common area of the lodge for charging our cameras as no power sockets were available in the tents. The common area had a balcony which was furnished with chairs for us to enjoy the fabulous view overlooking the river while munching on to some snacks that was provided. Soon, I joined my husband and we sat down in the balcony looking at the blue coloured mountains in the distance, the green of the trees near us and the golden plains with the river meandering in front of us. Overall, the beautiful colours splashed around us were indeed nature’s feast for our eyes!
As the meal was set up right after sunset, we moved to the dining area for dinner. The dining room was stunning with a very tall roof that was tapering to the top and made of wooden poles. We sat down at a corner table and had pumpkin soup followed by the main course. We were already full after our main course but Titus, the waiter for our table, brought us a mix of all the desserts for the day. Titus was happy to know that we were from India as it was his dream to come to India and learn dentistry. He had given his exams and was awaiting his results. He informed us that Tanzania did not have a lot of good dentists and that the people were not educated about dental practices which is why he wanted to be one. From our limited knowledge, we informed him to target the various scholarships that are available for African students in India.
The dining room was almost filled with guests. There was a larger group sitting in the table beside us who were travelled with small kids. The youngest child, a boy of four named James, was very restless and was playing around with his toy car. To engage him, all the lodge employees came together and sang a beautiful song. This song still keeps on playing on our lips with its simple Swahili words and catchy tune.