Ngorongoro Crater Lodge is the most deluxe property in &Beyond’s portfolio and quite possibly in all Tanzania too. Winner of a TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice Award, the property is famous for its superb service, which features the attentions of a private butler with every suite. The accommodation is booked on a full-board basis, including three meals daily, a selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, game drives, WILDChild programme, Wi-Fi, and a laundry service.
ACCESS & LOCATION:
The lodge is accessed via 1 hour 30 minutes’ road transfer from Lake Manyara Airstrip. It has an absolutely spectacular location, on the Ngorongoro Crater rim!
ACCOMMODATION & FACILITIES:
Guest accommodation consists of 30 suites across three camps – North Camp and South Camp have 12 suites each, while Tree Camp has six. Other than their slightly different locations, North and South are identical, whereas Tree sits closer to the Crater rim and is surrounded by woodland. Each suite occupies a timber, stone, and thatch structure that resembles a Maasai homestead. Step inside, however, and you’ll find an astonishing medley of local and European stately home styles! Ngorongoro Crater Lodge’s interiors are often described as ‘Maasai meets Versailles’, a design combo creating a high-camp variation on the theme of luxury safari. A chandelier hangs from banana-leaf roofing, wood-panelled walls extend upwards from classic timber flooring, and gold forms the neutral part of the palette. The look is certainly unique. Furnishings include a four-poster king-size bed, bedside stands and lighting, a couple of pouffes at the end of the bed, and a separate seating area with leather armchairs, cushioned footstools, Persian rugs, and a wood-burning stove. The en-suite facilities comprise flush toilet, washbasin with mirror over, separate shower, and freestanding bathtub positioned next to floor-to-ceiling windows with views of the Ngorongoro Crater! Each suite also has a lovely private veranda, and a family suite – two interleading units – is available at all three camps. And all guests are looked after by a private butler throughout their stay.
Every camp contains its own lounge and dining areas, and these are every inch as opulent as the guest accommodation! The lounges boast plush brocade sofas and winged leather chairs around glass-topped coffee tables, occasional tables supporting such items as an old-fashioned globe and a vase of fresh red roses, a grand fireplace with antique mirror above it, immense Persian rugs, and the same design detail of wood panelling, banana-leaf roofing, and sparkling chandeliers. Dining areas boast gold-and-cream high-backed chairs around individual tables, also with fireplaces and extravagant lighting. Tree Camp is slightly less ornate than North and South, but it retains the same first-rate service standards. Food and drink throughout all camps is amazing too, featuring enormous buffet breakfasts and lunches, and a three- or even five-course dinner! The property has a safari shop, which stocks curios as well as essential items. In-room massages are available, and keep-fit fans can make good use of &Beyond’s gym-in-a-basket, perhaps to work off all the massive meals!
The main activity from Ngorongoro Crater Lodge is going on an expertly guided game drive in the Crater. This internationally renowned wildlife hotspot is home to all Big Five species – lion, rhino, leopard, elephant, and buffalo! There are lots of smaller predators and herbivores as well, such as cheetah, hyenas, jackals, serval, caracal, golden cat, wild dog, giraffe, wildebeest, zebra, and all sorts of antelopes. Keen birders can look out for hundreds of feathery friends, not least vast flocks of flamingos! Drives are available during early morning and late afternoon – or you can head out for a full day in the Crater, with a picnic lunch prepared by lodge staff. Full-day walking safaris can be enjoyed in the Empakai Crater, situated within the Ngorongoro highlands. Here, you can expect to see buffalo, bushbuck, blue monkey, and, again, plenty of birdlife. Nature walks are possible around the lodge, in the company of a knowledgeable naturalist. And if you’re staying here for at least three nights, you could consider taking a trip out to Olduvai Gorge and the Shifting Sands. The gorge contains the earliest-known remains of Homo sapiens, while the sands attraction comprises a sequence of crescent-shaped dunes formed by volcanic ash and wafting over the landscape. Finally, there’s the WILDChild programme, offering opportunities for kids to try Maasai spear throwing, fire making, woodcarving, and beading. They can go on nature walks too!