Bougainvillea Safari Lodge makes a welcoming base for a night or two.
Bougainvillea Safari Lodge: Our full report
Bougainvillea Safari Lodge opened in March 2006 by a local onion farmer, and a chef, who saw potential for a simple and friendly guesthouse in Karatu, and so approached the government for a loan. Once granted, building began and the outcome is a 32-room lodge, close to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, which offers comfortable but simple accommodation.The lodge has strong community links, with some of the profits going into helping the local community. All of the staff are originally from the Ethiopian highlands (they belong to the Iraqw tribe) but have been living in Karatu for some time. When we last visited, it was very clear that the staff are very proud of the lodge and the levels of community involvement.
Bougainvillea Safari Lodge has 32 stone bungalows set in landscaped gardens, and linked by hedged walkways. The bungalows have been simply, but comfortably furnished. All have their own verandah from where you can sit and enjoy the peace and quiet of the gardens. For a town property, we were impressed with the obvious thought that has been given to the layout of this lodge. The bungalows aren't too close together and very spacious inside.
There is one main building at Bougainvillea Safari Lodge, made from stone and wood and with cool tiles on the floor. The building houses the small reception, a small, but well-stocked curio shop, a bar, dining room and conference room (which can double as a second dining room when the lodge is busy). They have kept the décor to a minimum, preferring instead to show off exposed stone walls and fireplaces – and used the ceiling as the main showpiece; it's covered with a light wood in an eye-catching, traditional design. There are plenty of wicker chairs and wooden tables to relax at in the bar area.
If you make your way through a white-painted archway, you come to the dining area. Again, this is simply decorated, with red checked tablecloths, although it is a bit dark. The tables and chairs are well spaced out. As you make your way outside, there is a shaded terrace, overlooking the gardens, so if you prefer, you can enjoy your meals outside.
In the middle of the garden is a sparkling blue pool, set among manicured lawns and brightly coloured flowers. There is also a small pool for younger children.
As the lodge has just one vehicle of its own, the vast majorty of guests will travel with their own safari guide and 4WD. This works well as the lodge is incredibly convenient for visiting either Lake Manyara, or the Ngorongoro Crater.
Our viewYou are in the middle of a busy town, but Bougainvillea is set back off the main road – and doesn't feel at all noisy or crowded. The bungalows are comfortable and spotless and the staff are charming. This is a good choice for families and those on a budget.
Ideal length of stay: 2 nights.
Directions: Bougainvillea Safari Lodge is 300m off the main road running through Karatu. It is signed.
Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer
Owner: Community Project and independently run.
Staff: Camp/Lodge Manager: Jacob. A. Ombay Ops manager: Reginald Bayo
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: Breakfast and lunch at Bougainvillea are both buffet style meals, laid out in the spacious dining room. There are hot and cold options for both meals. Dinner is a set meal served to your table.
The chef, Reggie, will happily cater for vegetarians and children on request. Reggie was formerly the chef at Gibb's Farm. We didn't have time to sample the food here, but Reggie has brought with him a good reputation and, we hope, good cooking!
If you are planning on leaving early or going out for a full day's game drive, Reggie and his staff will arrange a picnic breakfast and/or lunch on request.
Dining style: Individual Tables
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Drinks included: No drinks are included at Bougainvillea Safari Lodge, but costs are very moderate. A beer costs $2, a small bottle of water $1, a big bottle $2 and soft drinks cost $1.
Further dining info: Yes
Attitude towards children: Children are welcome at Bougainvillea Safari Lodge.
Property’s age restrictions: There are no age restrictions are the lodge.
Special activities & services: There are no special activities or services at Bougainvillea Safari Lodge for children.
Equipment: The lodge has baby cots. The last time we were there, (September 07), the lodge didn't have high chairs, but said they would be getting them shortly.
Generally recommended for children: Yes.
Communications: There is a fax and telephone for public use at an extra charge. There is also a small internet café for public use. There is cell phone reception at the lodge.
TV & radio: When we visited, the lodge was waiting for televisions to be installed in all of the rooms.
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: Yes
Medical care: The lodge has a first aid kit on site, and there is an American Doctor based on the other side of the road.
Dangerous animals: Low Risk
Security measures: Behind the lodge's large gates, which are manned 24-hours, there are 6 guards on duty at night.
Fire safety: There are fire extinguishers at the lodge and on our last visit, we were told that more were due to be delivered, to put near the rooms.
Disabled access: On Request
Laundry facilities: Full Laundry Service - Extra Charge
Money: The lodge prefers guests to pay with cash whenever possible and accepts the following currencies: US$, Euros, Pounds Sterling, Tanzanian Shillings and Kenyan Shillings. They also accept travellers' cheques and charge no commission for them. Bougainvillea can exchange currency in small amounts.
Accepted payment on location: Bougainvillea only accepts Visa credit cards, and charges 5% commission for this.