NGORONGORO CRATER LODGE, TANZANIA
why stay here?
An other-worldly experience waking up to Ngorongoro Crater views from your bed
Excellent wildlife viewing
Jaw-droppingly glamourous decor
feel & design
Architect Silvio Rech has built the lodge to be near-invisible from the crater floor. The external structure is built to resemble a Maasai village, and blends in beautifully with the red dust of its surrounds, appropriate to being inside the crater conservation area. Walking into the rooms is when you know you’re on the edge of one of the earth’s most astounding natural wonders in the wild, but in the lap of luxury in every way. The utterly glamourous stilted suites designed by Chris Brown test the limits of opulence and whimsy, and thankfully fall to the right side of a cluttered, maximalist aesthetic. The whole operation manages to envelop velvet, tassels, cut-glass, gilded mirrors, silver teapots, and wrought iron quite magically into the external rusticity. There are no electric fences around the property, and zebras and other fauna frequently romp steps from the suites which adds to the surreal feel.
The rooms are a Baroque triumph. Chandeliers bedeck the palm frond conical ceilings, velvet cushions and deep red roses add to the luxe, and an open bath with piles of snowy white towels invitingly laid out tops off the decadence. The beds are huge and replete with luxurious white linen. A cosy reading nook with a fireplace, a massive engraved box of chocolates, an in-room bar with the safari-requisite G&T accoutrements, an old-school writing desk, and a quaint dressing table are worked into the layout. Each room has a spacious viewing deck attached to it, from where you can gaze at the landscape and gambolling wildlife, or sit with a cuppa something and a book. Water is filtered and available in glass bottles with no plastic in sight, just as it should be.
The kitchen cleverly provides a diverse yet simple and delicious menu. Breakfast can be packed into a picnic for you to eat half way through your dawn game drive, or eaten in the dining area. Picnics take the guise of breads, sausages, roasted sweet potatoes, and fruit. Your guide will set up gingham cloth covered tables and chic foldable stools with alacrity. There’s something quite perfect about seeing prides of lions and hyenas skulking at dawn, and then stopping to drink hot chocolate in a reusable stainless steel mug in the middle of the crater a little while later. The no waste policy is strictly enforced, which we love and support. Lunch takes the form of abundant platters of roasted and pickled salads, grilled meats, and delicious house-made condiments. Dinner is quaintly formal on white tablecloths with several courses, and a dessert trolley dripping with everything from mousses to chocolate dusted almonds and Amarula flavoured truffles. Room service is available but you won’t want to miss eating in the jewel box of a dining room with even more expansive views than your suite. The staff will be happy to accommodate dietary preferences.
Game drives with knowledgeable guides
In-room gym equipment
Spear-bearing askaris to walk you to and from your room in case of stealthy lions or fractious zebras (no, really)
The staff is full of thoughtful touches like lighting a fire in the rooms to coincide with your return from dinner, running a bath to coincide with your return from a dusty game-drive, and are happy to provide extra services like sewing an errant button on a coat if you ask. Request the staff to prepare your beverage of choice to be brought to your room at dawn before you take off on your drive, and they will be happy to oblige, with cookies and a long-stemmed rose to boot. There is an unspoken tipping culture, and whether you plan to tip or not at your discretion, the expectation is unfortunately tangible at times from the odd staffer.
The glorious Ngorongoro crater, at your doorstep.
how do you get here?
Grab a slightly unnerving small aircraft to Manyara airstrip from Arusha or Kilimanjaro, and be picked up by the lodge’s jeep for your 40 minute drive over. The views from the flight are well worth the nerves.