Come to E Unoto not only because it has close community links with the local Maasai ...
E Unoto Retreat: Our full report
E Unoto Retreat is a peaceful lodge, situated just twelve miles from Lake Manyara National Park. Drive down a dusty track, through a number of Maasai villages, until you reach the foot hills of the Rift Valley escarpment where E Unoto sits on the edge of a green oasis.
The land here was developed in 2000 and E Unoto has been built incorporating traditional methods and using as many locally-sourced materials as possible. The roofs are all made from papyrus, which is found in the lake below the lodge. The lodge was built in conjunction with the local community, and provides health care, education and of course employment. The local community actually directly shares in the lodges profits, which all adds to the 'feel good' factor of staying here.
The main restaurant and lounge area at E Unoto are centered around the lodge's swimming pool. Two traditional Maasai manyattas (large huts) house a number of tables and chairs, where all of the meals are served. In one is also the bar, where a friendly barman is always waiting to offer you a cool drink. Both are simply decorated, with polished stone floors, high thatch roofs and totally open sides so that you can enjoy the view.
The rondavels here are all individual thatch manyattas built in a traditional style. From the outside they look quite rustic, but when you walk inside you find a very comfortable and spacious bedroom. These are dotted with beautiful Africa carvings, and so have a natural feel. All of the rooms have two double beds, twin his-and-hers sinks and an en-suite shower and toilet. (Read more about the rondavels here…)
Many activities from E Unoto Retreat are centered round the local community, including a lovely waterfall walk from the lodge – this takes two hours and takes you through the communities fertile farming area. You can also visit a local Maasai boma, use a bike to explore nearby villages, or embark on a 4-hour walk up onto the Rift Valley Escarpement.
Alternatively, most travellers visit with their own 4WD and guide, and then E Unoto is a great base for safaris into Lake Manyara National Park; the park gate is only about 15km from the lodge – that's 20 minutes' drive.
The name 'E Unoto' actually refers to a joyous Maasai ceremony – where warriors chose their wives and enter into junior adulthood. This is a month-long celebration of singing and dancing – and a very apt name for the lodge, as staying at E Unoto Retreat certainly has a 'feel good factor' to it.
When we last visited, a number of the E Unoto team where giving local school children swimming lessons in the lodge pool! It is a great place to stay if you want to experience an uncontrived interaction with the local Maasai community, whilst staying in very comfortable accommodation.
Please note: Due to a recent complaint, and reports from our team in Tanzania that E Unoto has fallen below our usual standards, we are not currently recommending it. That said, this is a great community project that we would be delighted to support again when it has returned to its usual norm. Please ask us for the latest details on E Unoto.
Ideal length of stay: At least a few nights so that you can try some of the lodge based activities, and also spend a day in Lake Manyara National Park.
Directions: To reach E Unoto Retreat – you can either drive for around 2 hours from Arusha, or alternatively you can fly to Manyara Airstrip and then drive for around 30 minutes.
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: When we last visited E Unoto Retreat we enjoyed the food very much. Not because it is Michelin-starred, or because it is particularly fancy – but rather because it has a distinctly Africa twist. If you stay here, you have the perfect chance to try some Tanzanian favourites such as ugali (a thick maize porridge), chapatti (a savoury pancake) and kachumbari (a spicy salad) amongst other things.
For breakfast – E Untoto Retreat lay out a large spread of fruits, freshly baked bread, cereal and cakes. You can then order a cooked breakfast as well. There are also a number of juices on offer, as well as fresh coffee and tea.
Lunch can be in the form of a packed lunch that you take with you into Lake Manyara National Park. This will usually have some sandwiches, a cake or snack of some sort, a piece of barbequed chicken and a boiled egg. It always comes with a carton of fruit juice as well. If you chose to have lunch back at the lodge, you can expect a Tanzanian-influenced meal of rice, meat stew, fresh salads and chipati.
For dinner you are offered three choices for each of the three courses. Starter is usually the choice of a couple of types of soup or a salad. The main course is then a choice of different meat of vegetarian stews or curries, each of which can be served with rice, ugali or chipati. Desert is then fresh fruit, ice-cream or perhaps cake.
Dining style: Individual Tables
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included
Drinks included: $1 for a soda and $3 for a beer or a glass of wine
Traditional Cultures: E Unoto is run entirely by Maasai, and works hand in hand with its local community with the aim of providing support and education. This is a great base to experience an uncontrived interaction with one of East Africa's most famous tribal cultures.See more ideas for Traditional Cultures in Tanzania
Wellbeing: Although not a 'Spa' destination at all, staying at E Unoto can really make you feel good as you are contributing to an excellent cause. The lodge is closely involved in local community projects, including education and health – for example 10% of the lodge's profits are directed straight back into the community.See more ideas for Wellbeing in Tanzania
Attitude towards children: Children are welcome at E Unoto
Equipment: High chairs
Generally recommended for children: Yes
Notes: Children would need to be closely supervised when using the swimming pool.
Communications: There is cell phone reception at E Unoto, however there is no landline phone or internet access for guests.
TV & radio: There is no TV or radio at E Unoto.
Health & safety
Malarial area: Yes
Medical care: There is a physician in Arusha which is about a two-hour drive away. However there are members of the team who are first aid trained for minor injuries, and also a dispensary nearby which guests can use.
Dangerous animals: Moderate Risk
Security measures: There are usually two guards and about 14 Maasai on site.
Fire safety: There are fire extinguishers outside rooms and the communal areas and the staff are trained to use them.
Disabled access: In Place
Laundry facilities: Included
Money: E Unoto can change small amounts of dollars into Tanzania shillings for you.