Kirurumu Tented Lodge sits on the egde of the Rift Valley high above Lake Manyara.
Kirurumu Manyara Lodge: Our full report
Kirurumu Manyara Lodge (formerly Kirurumu Tented Lodge) is a simple but comfortable property which is often used as a base from which to explore both Lake Manyara National Park and the Ngorongoro Crater with a guide. It has a spectacular location right on the edge of the escarpment of the Great Rift Valley, with picturesque views back across Lake Manyara.
The bush around the lodge has been left in its original state, so instead of manicured gardens you will find native vegetation which in turn attracts a lot of birdlife; birdsong is ever-present at Kirurumu. As you walk along the winding stone paths that lead between the main areas and the rooms, you'll notice that many of the endemic plants have been labelled – we really liked this touch.
Dotted across 13 acres of land, each of the 25 tented rooms at Kirurumu Manyara Lodge sits on a raised wooden deck and has a spacious bedroom, en-suite bathroom and private veranda. These rooms are simply styled and have large beds, plain but attractive furniture and makuti mats on the polished stone floors. (Click here for more info on the tented rooms at Kirurumu...)
Kirurumu Manyara Lodge also has two suites which are similar in style to the standard tented rooms, but are larger, with two bedrooms each, so work very well for families. (Click here for more info on the suites at Kirurumu…..)
The main buildings of Kirurumu Manyara Lodge are dotted in amongst the surrounding bush, connected by winding stone pathways. Simply designed, open-sided buildings, they are comfortable and modestly decorated with traditional-coloured fabrics for the soft furnishings, and a simple rustic charm. What they lack in style they make up for in their prime location and superb views.
On arrival you walk into the reception – a thatched building with russet-red stone floors. A few seats and some large potted plants furnish the wide open hallway that leads to a small shop, where you will find a good selection of general souvenirs alongside some toiletries.
Close by, but tucked into the surrounding bush, the dining room is a spacious, open-sided building under high thatch, and feels cool and comfortable. Individual tables in a variety of sizes are set with white tablecloths.
The best feature of Kirurumu Manyara Lodge is its bar area, which has wonderful views over the Great Rift Valley and Lake Manyara. This canvas-and-stone building is scattered with lounging chairs and has a small library. Canvas flaps roll up to create a totally open front overlooking a broad wooden deck on which you'll find directors' chairs from which to admire the breathtaking views.
Our guests staying at Kirurumu Manyara Lodge will usually be accompanied by one of our private guides who is driving them on a safari though northern Tanzania's wildlife areas. Thus activities from the lodge are usually up to you and your guide, but typically they will focus on full-day safaris with a picnic lunch. The obvious choice of destinations is either to spend the day in Lake Manyara National Park, which is about 20 minutes' drive away; or to head a further to the Ngorongoro Crater, approximately 90 minutes' drive away.
If you stay at Kirurumu for three or more nights you can easily visit both areas. Village walks and traditional lunches can be arranged at Mto Wa Mbu, a village beside Lake Manyara National Park. The lodge can also organise short botanical walks in the local area with Maasai guides. For guests who want a more relaxing option, 30- and 60- minute massages are offered for about US$30 and US$40 respectively.
Kirurumu Manyara Lodge is comfortable, friendly and unpretentious: simplicity done well. When we were last there in May 2011, the lodge seemed to function well and the staff were available to answer any questions. It may not be inspiring but it's a relatively economical place to stay, and a good base to visit either Lake Manyara or Ngorongoro. The best thing about Kirurumu are undoubtedly the mesmerising views from the bar – which are simply amazing; it is worth staying here for these alone.
Ideal length of stay: Spend two nights here if you just want to visit Lake Manyara National Park. Stay longer if you prefer not to move on a daily basis, but then spend one of your days on safari to the Ngorongoro Crater.
Directions: Kirurumu Manyara Lodge is approximately a two-hour drive from Arusha, 20-minutes from Lake Manyara National Park and one hour from the gate of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. After leaving the tarmac road, the last 6km to the lodge is along a bumpy track past small villages and shambas (farms).
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: The food at Kirurumu Manyara Lodge is mostly fairly standard international- style cuisine. The ingredients are fresh, the menu varied and the timings can be flexible around your daily activities.
Although we did not have time to sample the food when we last visited Kirurumu Manyara Lodge, we did get a good explanation of what guests could expect.
In the morning, a buffet breakfast is usually served between 7.00 and 9.00am, with a variety of cereals and fresh fruit. A cooked breakfast including bacon, sausages, tomatoes and your choice of cooked eggs can be ordered.
For lunch, you can either head out with a picnic, or come back to the lodge to eat. At the lodge, a three-course lunch is usually served between 12.30 and 2pm.
Dinner is also a set three-course meal, usually served between 7.00 and 9.00pm. For the most part, the cuisine is international style, the lodge occasionally hosts a traditional Swahili night where guests can try a selection of local dishes.
Dining style: Individual Tables
Dining locations: Indoor Dining
Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included
Drinks included: Drinks are an additional charge; you can expect to pay around US$2 for a soft drink, US$3.50 for a beer or glass of wine, and US$20–30 for a bottle of wine.
Attitude towards children: Kirurumu Manyara Lodge will happily welcome children of all ages.
Notes: We would recommend Kirurumu Manyara Lodge for children. It is friendly, relaxed and has two larger suites which are a good size for families. However parents should be aware that there is a steep cliff at the front of the lodge which is not fenced. There is also the chance that wildlife might pass through the lodge grounds, so children should be under their parent's supervision throughout their stay.
Communications: There is internet access with a fairly slow connection in the lodge office which guests can use on request. There is intermittent cellphone reception around the lodge and a landline in the office that can be used at a pinch.
Health & safety
Malarial area: Yes
Medical care: Kirurumu Manyara Lodge has a first-aid kit on site. There is a doctor at a hotel situated only 15 minutes away and a small clinic in a nearby town. For more serious cases, the lodge has access to the flying doctors service.
Dangerous animals: Moderate Risk
Security measures: There are Maasai guards around the lodge during the day and at night time. Each tent has a padlock with which to lock the tent door's zips together.
Fire safety: There are fire extinguishers outside the bedrooms and also in the main areas.
Disabled access: Not Possible
Laundry facilities: A laundry service is available at an extra charge – from about US$1.50 per item of clothing.
Money: Kirurumu Manyara Lodge can exchange small amounts of cash, dependent on what they have available. There is a safe in the reception where valuables can be stored on request.