Lodge Review: Whistling Thorn Camp, Tarangire NP, Tanzania

While Whistling Thorn Camp is not located inside the Tarangire National Park in Tanzania, it is within 5km from the border and in the Kwakuchinja Wildlife Corridor area.  Birds are all over the camp and wild animals have been known to walk through as well.  When you walk back to your tent after dinner, you will have a Masai guard to ensure your safety.  It’s all here – bush, birds and nice people to run it!  If I could make one criticism, I do think it is overpriced for the product, which seems to be supported by the fact that there was only one other couple there the first day and we were the only tourists there the 2nd day.  Lowering the price would bring more people in and more potential revenue for the village.

You can book Whistling Thorn Camp through their website.  They take credit cards by email, since I am very cautious I split the number over several emails.

This is the dirt road turnoff that leads to the camp.  It isn’t well marked so make sure your driver has obtained the directions before heading out.


This was our tent, you can see another tent to the right.  They have the thatched roofs overhead to protect from the rain.


You can sit here and watch birds!

IMG_6386This is the first place where we had both a welcoming committee in the form of adorable Yellow-collared Lovebirds ………………


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………….. and a Go Away committee!  Notice how much darker this Go Away bird is than the South African one.

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The tents are fitted with 2 single beds.  The rear zipper leads to the bathroom.


Water for the bathroom is stored in a tank and refilled as needed by the staff.  The shower was warm enough from the heat of the sun and most people shower right after returning from their afternoon safari while the water is still warm.

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Sunset at camp


Dinner is served in the reception tent and they do bring plenty of food around!  You won’t g hungry here!


Waking before sunrise to see birds.


Coffee, tea and fruit are available, they put cereal, bread and other breakfast items out before you leave on your morning safari.  They will pack a lunch for you to take with you.

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Overall view of the reception/dining tent.  There are electric plugs in the back to charge cameras, no wifi!  Cool drinks are in the fridge and are cool enough if the generator has been on.


Our Jeep, notice the 2 spare tires.  Always make sure your rental car is well equipped for emergencies.

IMG_6413This is a great place to see Yellow-collared Lovebirds and more!

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Magpie Shrike


Tanzania Red-billed Hornbill


Watch out for turtles in the road, they are very difficult to see, especially when you are looking up in the trees at birds!  This one was lucky, we saw him and waited for him to waddle off the road.


Welcome To Arusha, Then Off To Tarangire

Our birding adventure started as most people’s do – at the Kilimanjaro Airport.  Our driver-guide, Jonas from Fortes Car Hire was there waiting for us.

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The ATMs just outside the airport didn’t like my Aussie debit card so that meant we had one extra thing to do in Arusha – find a bank!  Jonas ended up taking us to Barclays which happily accepted my card.  Cash in hand, we were ready to go!


The first bird we saw in Tanzania was right outside the airport – a Superb Starling.  He was the first of many we would see on this trip.


There are lots of small markets like this in Arusha.

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Arusha clock tower


Now why would this billboard catch my eye?


Jonas took us to the Fortes office where I paid the cash for the car/driver hire package.  We also paid the park fees to Fortes as they would then pay the entry for the car, Jonas (Tanzanian) and us (foreigners) at each park entrance.  After finding the main office of Ndutu Safari Lodge closed, I called the lodge to confirm they accepted credit cards and was reassured they did.  Having obtained cash for spending money at the Barclay’s ATM, it was time to hit the road.  Below you can see the route from Kilimanjaro Airport to Arusha, then to Tarangire NP.

Northern Tanzania

During the 2 hour trip to the Tarangire outskirts, we saw a few Masai markets.

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Superb Starling in a thorny tree.


Not sure about this one but he’s giving us a very suspicious look!


This was the turn-off to Whistling Thorn Camp.  It’s about 10 minutes from the main road down bumpy dirt roads.  I was glad to get there before dark so we had an hour or so to check out the camp birds – which you will see in the next post!


What It’s Really Like To Travel In Tanzania

Since I am an even worse videographer than photographer, I thought I would share this video posted on YouTube by Rigdon Currie.  He and his family visit several of the same places we did in northern Tanzania with Rockjumper Birding Tours and they spent more time in each place.  He got some great footage that really shows what it’s like to travel in the African bush.  They even got to do a hot-air balloon ride – I’m so jealous!  As for the birds, I’m sure they got more than we did but they stayed longer.  I did see a lot of familiar birds though so I think we did OK too!  So jealous of the leopards!

Grey Go-away Bird (Corythaixoides concolor)

The Grey Go-away Bird (Corythaixoides concolor), (also known as grey lourie, grey loerie, or kwêvoël) is one of the most entertaining birds you will see in Africa.  Even when they are telling you to “go away”, they are still endearing and I look forward to seeing them on a safari.  They are widespread in savanna woodland, a clumsy flier though extremely agile in clambering through tree crowns. It has a distinctive loud alarm call “quare”, fancifully sounding like “go away”. The crest is raised when excited.
IMG_3797 IMG_3938 IMG_3952They have a large range in Southern Africa.  I saw them all over Kruger National Park.  Although the Birdlife map shows them only in southern Tanzania, I saw them in the Whistling Thorn Camp near Tarangire National Park, and was personally told to “go away” after checking into my tent!





Excellent sound quality, you can hear them saying “Go away”!

 This is a very old movie clip from “The Gods Must Be Crazy”.  The first part is hilarious, the last part (I hope that’s a prop) not so much.