I stayed at the Tarangire Sopa for three nights in late December. On balance, I found the lodge to be welcoming and affable, in private, serene location (but not remote).
The rooms are mid-sized and decent enough; take criticisms here with a grain of salt. In my experience, the Tanzania lodges tend to be inferior to similarly appointed lodges in neighbouring Kenya, so if you're used to the lap of luxury, almost anything in TZ's northern circuit is going to disappoint you. One thing worth mentioning - these things are important after a long day on the road - the water pressure in the shower is just fine. Often, in back-country Africa - for obvious reasons- water pressure is often virtually non-existent.
The restaurant and adjacent veranda are built above a tall bluff overlooking a thick stand of trees and bushes; it's a little like being above a tree canopy, and the view is really quite serene, especially if you're used to the big city.
There's Internet service in the lobby, but not in the rooms. When you're in the TZ bush, you'll soon find that ANY Internet service is a luxury.
The food - which some have sniped at here - was actually not bad, for my taste.
The staff will leave you feeling frustrated at times; some have a barely serviceable knowledge of English, let alone lodge etiquette. Service in the restaurant can be exceedingly slow — 10 to 20 minutes for a lukewarm Coke. When, nearly half an hour after everyone else had left from lunch and I was the only one left, the waiter was nowhere to be found. I assumed my bill, for two soft drinks, would be automatically charged to my room. Instead, an hour later, the waiter let himself into my room and woke me up from an afternoon doze to insist that I sign the check then and there.
For every negative, though, there were two or three positives. The view, the ambiance, an affable and helpful manager (Isaiah), a small but well-stocked gift shop, a decent pool (that no one appeared to be using), fair-sized rooms, a minibar-size room fridge (but no minibar), 24-hour electricity and the park itself make Tarangire Sopa a fine alternative to the usual lemming rush across Tanaania's northern park circuit.
A local familiar with the Sopa properties told me Tarangire is one of the better ones; he added that the TZ Sopas are, on average, superior to the Kenya Sopas. Of course, that may just be one person't opinion. As I said, in my experience, the Kenya lodges overall tend to be of a higher calibre, and more cost-effective. That said, for my taste, I liked the Tarangire Sopa just fine.
As for the park itself, Tarangire is, it sees to me, something of an overlooked gem. It's overlooked because it's not on a direct line with the Arusha-Ngorongoro/Serengeti circuit, but it's well worth a visit. Depending on time of year, you may end up having the place to yourself - and, this, in a park that seems as large as Serengeti.
For my taste, Tarangire is best for elephant sightings; it rivals, if not surpasses, the more famous Lake Manyara in that regard. For me, anyway.
- Also Known As:
- Tarangire Sopa Hotel Tarangire National Park