Hatari Lodge is situated in Arusha National Park at the foot of Mount Meru.
Hatari Lodge: Our full report
Situated on the northern boundary of Arusha National Park, the unique Hatari Lodge ('hatari' meaning 'danger' in Swahili) is named after the 1960s' blockbuster Hatari!, which starred John Wayne and was filmed in the surrounding area. The lodge has been very thoughtfully put together, every corner filled with a unique piece of art or handmade piece of furniture.
One of Wayne's co-stars, Hardy Krüger, fell in love with Africa during the filming. Having decided to make his home here, he bought Momella Farm where he lived happily for 13 years. Today this former farm makes up part of the luxurious Hatari Lodge, under the ownership of Joerg and Marlies Gabriel, and with some 80% of the staff drawn from the local community.
Remmy Macha, the in-house artist, has worked hand in hand with Marlies to create an unusual mix of contemporary and African design. Retro 1960s' artwork covers the walls and modern African sculptures are dotted around. We periodically see Hatari Lodge described as having a 'modern-retro' design, or a '60s' theme', with 'art-deco elements' ... and the reader must think 'what a mess!' However, the reality is far from that and it works exceedingly well: there is nothing gaudy or over-the-top about this lodge.
Hatari's dining room, lounge and bar are all housed within the central building, looking out over grassy plains to Arusha National Park. Between September and April, weather permitting, breakfast and lunch are served on the veranda, furnished with fibreglass tables and chairs inset with Maasai beads. From here, you can sit and watch game such as waterbuck, zebra, large numbers of giraffe and often buffalo coming down to graze. On clear days you can even see Mount Kilimanjaro!
A boardwalk leads from the veranda to a viewing platform overlooking the Momella clearing below. With chairs set around a campfire, it's a pleasant spot to relax with a drink and to watch passing game.
In the winter months, meals at Hatari Lodge are served in the dining area, where tables and chairs are positioned in front of a large fireplace. The tables are individually set for breakfast, though for dinner one long table is usually set in a dinner-party style. Even the coffee cups fit the modern retro theme, and the colour scheme is changed for different meals, to create a different atmosphere – further examples of the attention to detail here.
In the small lounge area, sumptuous 60s' leather sofas are scattered with brightly coloured cushions. Hand-sculpted animal heads housing wall lights are mounted on the walls, creating a cosy glow whilst adding a funky stylish edge.
A second lounge/library, set to one side in the main building, continues the pop-art theme. A sofa lines the edge of the room, dotted with animal-skin cushions. A patchwork animal-skin rug covers the floor and brightly coloured Andy Warhol remakes of the stars in Hatari hang on the walls. Under the glass coffee table are a large number of interesting books, while in the evenings they often show films here – including the lodge's namesake, Hatari!!
Bright bar stools in an assortment of colours line the long wooden bar, where all the glassware is beautifully made in Nairobi from recycled glass. A shop behind the bar sells a variety of Hatari! T-shirts and hand-embroidered textiles. All products are made by the community project 'Mama Momella', which helps local women to earn an income. This and other initiatives are run by Hatari's Momella Foundation, which incorporates projects that range from the building of a local pre-school to vegetable farming.
The nine bedrooms at Hatari Lodge are each uniquely designed, but all broadly follow the same retro theme. Each has a different colour scheme, with one wall painted in a vibrant 60s' pattern. Each of the rooms has hanging space for clothes, a writing desk, a hairdryer, and very comfortable beds – and all but one have an open fire, which is lit for you on winter evenings, making the room wonderfully cosy.
The spacious en-suite bathrooms, with large walk-in showers, flush toilets and twin sinks, sport the same colour scheme as the main rooms, and toiletries are provided. Two bathrooms also have bathtubs – so these rooms are often used for honeymoon couples.
Activities at Hatari Lodge usually take you into Arusha National Park, for walking safari, game drives and canoeing on the Momella Lakes. The walking here is lovely, and the scenery incredibly picturesque. On most days you can see the top of Mount Meru and all the way across to Kilimanjaro. That said, Arusha National Park is not the place to come if you want to see lots of big game. When we were last here in May 2011 we really enjoyed the walking around the area, and thought that this was a great park to visit for a few days if you felt like doing something other than the safari norm.
A stay at Hatari can be combined with its sister lodge, Shu'mata Camp (meaning 'heaven' in Maasai), which sits on a hill in the South Amboseli region in the foothills of Kilimanjaro, a three-hour scenic drive away. Shu'mata's five Hemingway-style tents are spacious with hand-made furniture and traditional Maasai artefacts. We haven't had a chance to visit this camp for ourselves yet – but we'd expect it to be run to the same high standard as the main lodge.
Our viewHatari Lodge has been designed and fitted out with an incredible amount of thought, and to a very high standard. It is a good base from which to explore the small yet incredibly beautiful Arusha National Park – which is great for walking and canoeing in a relaxed environment, although doesn't have the density of big, dangerous game that you'll find in Tarangire or the Serengeti. Stay for two or three nights: Hatari makes a superb start or end to a northern Tanzania safari.
Ideal length of stay: Stay here for two or three nights to explore Arusha National Park and a range of activities
Directions: Hatari Lodge stands on the northern boundary of Arusha National Park, 58km from Arusha, or a drive of about 90 minutes. From Kilimanjaro Airport, Hatari and the drive takes only an hour.
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: On our last visit in May 2011, as with previous visits, the food at Hatari was very good. They describe their cuisine as 'international with African ingredients'; and we found it to be well presented and imaginative.
Breakfast usually started with a buffet of fruit, yoghurts and cereals, plus toast and preserves as well as tea, coffee and fruit juice. You can also order a hot breakfast with eggs of your choice, bacon and sausage.
For lunch, guests will often stop at a quiet picnic spot in the park and unpack a wicker hamper that contains a variety of cold dishes. When we were there, we had samosas and a selection on flavoursome salads, with tea, coffee and fruit juice to drink.
Alternatively, you can have lunch back at the lodge, usually served between midday and 2.00pm.
Between 3.00pm and 5.00pm, tea is served in Hatari's lounge. There is always a freshly baked cake to tuck into as well as coffee and a variety of teas.
Dinner is sometimes served at one table in a dinner-party style, and sometimes at separate tables, depending on the guests' wishes. You will usually gather in the bar and lounge area for a few drinks – and are then invited to the table when dinner is ready. The evening meals are three courses, with a light starter, a main course (usually a meat or chicken dish), and then a dessert. When we were last here in May 2011, we had a zucchini soup, followed by tender beef with mashed potato, and a delicious coffee-flavoured dessert. We enjoyed it immensely!
Special dietary requirements can be catered for with some advanced notice.
Dining style: Group Meals
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included
Drinks included: Tea, coffee and water are included, but all other drinks are at extra cost.
Family holidays: Although not danger-free, the lower densities of dangerous game in Arusha National Park make Hatari a particularly good destination for families visiting Tanzania's Northern Circuit. Many safari trips to the north are largely restricted to game drives; but just include this at the start or end of your trip to spend some active time walking or canoeing!See more ideas for Family holidays in Tanzania
Attitude towards children: Joerg and Marlies have a young son and are happy to have children of all ages at Hatari Lodge.
Generally recommended for children: Arusha National Park is a good option for families with young children as it's easily accessible,. Hatari's location and facilities make it a good choice for exploring the park.
Notes: Game does wander through the lodge so it is important that parents are responsible for their children at all times.
Power supply: Generator
Communications: There is some cellphone reception at Hatari Lodge, but guests are requested not to use cellphones in the main areas. There is an office phone and internet for use in emergencies.
TV & radio: Not really – but they do have an old-style screen for showing old African movies like Hatari!
Health & safety
Malarial area: No
Medical care: There is a first-aid kit on site and staff are trained in first aid. There are also clinics at Momella Gate and in Arusha, and Hatari has contacts with the flying doctors' service. Note that although Arusha National Park is malaria free, most other areas in Tanzania that form part of a safari or holiday are malaria zones. For this reason, travellers are advised to continue their malaria prophylaxis regime throughout their trip, including whilst in Arusha. In regards to malaria – Arusha National Park is malaria free, however most other areas in Tanzania that form part of a greater safari or holiday, do have malaria. For this reason, travellers are advised not to stop taking their prophylaxis whilst in Arusha or during any point of their trip.
Dangerous animals: High Risk
Security measures: There are askaris to escort guests between the rooms at night.
Fire safety: Fire extinguishers are dotted around the lodge.
Disabled access: On Request
Laundry facilities: A full laundry service is offered at extra charge.
Money: Hatari Lodge can exchange only small amounts of currency on special request. If you have any valuables you can give them to the office for safe keeping.