Bougainvillea Safari Lodge makes a welcoming base for a night or two.
Bougainvillea Safari Lodge: Our full report
Bougainvillea Safari Lodge was the brainchild of 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. Their application was approved and this 32-room lodge, close to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, was built. The lodge has strong community links, and some of the profits go towards 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 level 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 veranda, 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 are 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 reception, a small but well-stocked curio shop, a bar, the dining room and a 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 using the ceiling as the main showpiece – it's covered in light wood carved in an eye-catching, traditional design. There are plenty of wicker chairs and wooden tables 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. It can feel a bit dark, bu 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 swimming pool, set among manicured lawns and brightly coloured flowers. There is also a smaller pool for young children.
As the lodge has just one vehicle of its own, the vast majority 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 Safari Lodge is set back off the main road – and doesn't feel noisy or crowded at all. The bungalows are comfortable and spotlessly clean, and the staff are charming. This is a good choice for families and those on a budget.
Ideal length of stay: We recommended a two-night stay
Directions: Bougainvillea Safari Lodge is 300m off the main road that runs through Karatu. It is well signposted.
Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer
Owner: Community Project and independently run.
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: Breakfast and lunch at Bougainvillea are both buffet-style meals, with hot and cold options, laid out in the spacious dining room. 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 they were busy preparing a beef stroganoff with brown rice and vegetables for dinner. 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 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
Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included
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
Walking: Bougainvillea can arrange guided and self-guided walks, lasting from about 30 minutes to three hours, around the beautiful coffee farms in the area. They have a guide who can accompany you if you would like to learn about the coffee farms and Karatu and, currently, there’s no extra cost for this.See more ideas for Walking in Tanzania
Attitude towards children: Children are welcome at Bougainvillea Safari Lodge.
Property’s age restrictions: There are no age restrictions at the lodge.
Special activities & services: Children are welcome to join in with a walk around the coffee plantation, or with a town visit. There is also a small children’s pool.
Equipment: The lodge has high chairs.
Generally recommended for children: We can recommend Bougainvillea for children. As well as the pool, there are two family rooms and the lodge encourages families to stay. It’s fenced all the way around, so children can’t run off.
Notes: Children should be under parental supervision at all times.
Power supply: Mains Electricity
Power supply notes: Always on
Communications: There is a fax and telephone for public use at an extra charge, as well as cellphone reception. There is also a small internet café for public use. WiFi is available in the main areas and is free for guests to use. There is at the lodge.
TV & radio: When we visited, the lodge was waiting for televisions to be installed in all of the rooms.
Water supply: Mains
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 dollars, 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.