Exploreans Ngorongoro Lodge: Our full report
Opened in January 2012, Exploreans Ngorongoro Lodge is a new lodge situated on the doorstep to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and the gateway to the Ngorongoro Crater. Set on a hillside in a 50 acre plot of land, each lodge building has been created in the style of a log cabin and overlooks forested slopes. With just 20 cottages, set amongst pretty gardens and with a lovely outlook, it's a relatively small and stylish addition to the area.
With wooden floors and beamed ceilings throughout, each cottage has a lounge, sizeable bedroom, dressing room, en suite bathroom and a private terrace. A roll-arm settee and two high backed arm chairs are set around a coffee table near a fire place in the lounge. A cushioned day bed in one corner could be converted into a child’s bed for a family group and there’s a stocked mini-bar, writing desk and tea/coffee facilities. The bedroom is furnished with a double or twin four-poster beds hung with mosquito nets, an armchair with matching ottoman near a fire place, and a day bed that can convert into an extra bed for a child. The fairly masculine furniture is softened by cushions made with richly coloured fabrics and vibrant artworks by African artists. Leading off the bedroom is a dressing room with large wardrobe and a smartly tiled bathroom with twin basins, a walk-in shower and a separate flush toilet. Double doors open out from both the lounge and the bedroom onto a private furnished terrace.
Every requirement seems to have been thought of at Exploreans Ngorongoro, with a hair dryer, torch, telephone, digital safe, WiFi connection, battery charging points, ceiling fans, hot water bottles, umbrellas, bathrobes, slippers, toiletries, alarm clock and the option of a shoe shining service in each room.
The lodge’s main area is a makuti thatched, T-shaped, log building, with a veranda wrapped around much of it. The relatively sizeable interior appears more spacious because of high A-frame ceilings with exposed beams. At one end of the ‘T’ is the reception and shop, and at the other is the Acacia Restaurant. At the top of the ‘T’ is the bar and the tail holds the lounge, furnished with leather-backed chairs and comfortable loungers. Large glass windows allow for a lot of natural light, and make the most of the pretty views.
The lodge can arrange safari excursions into the nearby Ngorongoro Crater for their guests through a third party supplier, but most travellers arrive with their own private guide and safari vehicle. When you're not out on safari, there are options to relax by the swimming pool, read a book from the library, indulge in a treatment at the Mvua African Rain Spa, browse in the small safari boutique, or enjoy a cocktail on the veranda, served from the Zebra Bar. For something a bit further afield the choices include guided nature walks, village and plantation visits.
Our ViewThe location of Exploreans Ngorongoro Lodge is excellent for a relatively quick entry to the Crater in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. We expect that this, combined with smart, spacious accommodations, very good food using fresh ingredients, and such attention to detail will make this a popular choice for many travellers. We were also very impressed by their vegetable and herb gardens. Part of a chain, this new lodge is the only property located in mainland Tanzania. So currently, many of the artworks adorning the walls are by Kenyan artisans – where the company has another property. We look forward to a time when the lodge replaces these with artworks by Tanzanian artisans, sourced locally.
Ideal length of stay: We recommend a stay of at least two nights at Exploreans Ngorongoro Lodge to give you a full day to safari on the Ngorongoro Crater floor.
Directions: Exploreans Ngorongoro Lodge is situated about three hours drive from Arusha, or about one hours drive from Lake Manyara Airstrip.
Owner: Plan Hotel Group
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: Meals are served from the Acacia Restaurant, either within the formal dining room, or on the outdoor terrace. We found the fare here to be fresh and delicious. Many of the ingredients are locally sourced; meat, fruit and dairy comes from the surrounding communities whilst many of the vegetables and herbs come from the lodge’s own garden.
Your breakfast table will be set with a mouth-watering basket of assorted filled Danishes, croissants, doughnuts and rolls fresh from the bakers oven, a fresh fruit platter and chilled, freshly squeezed fruit and vegetable juice. You’ll then have the choice of cereal, muesli or porridge with full-fat, low-fat or soya milk, a cold-meat platter with crackers and fig jam, egg dishes such as eggs benedict with hollandaise source or scrambled eggs on hash browns, cinnamon French toast, pancakes or waffles.
Lunch usually comes in the form of a lunch box sent with you on your day’s activity. You’ll typically have three choices of lunch box fillings to choose from – we had chicken wraps which were delicious and came with a piece of fruit, a pastry, and a fruit juice.
Your dinner table will be set with a basket of fresh bread served with tasty dips such as spicy eggplant, avocado and white lentil. You’ll then choose your dishes from an a la carte menu. During our visit the choices were beef carpaccio with herb salad and pine nut dressing, salad with bocconcini cheese and pesto, and the soup of the day was minestrone.
For the main course, there is usually a pasta, vegetarian, fish and meat selection such as chicken cannelloni with mushroom and ricotta, vegetable risotto, seared beef tenderloin with blue cheese puree, chicken confit, and pepper crusted tuna steak with saffron butter sauce.
The meal is then rounded off with a delicious dessert choice such as Irish coffee parfait with chocolate sauce, apple strudel with custard, or a fresh fruit platter.
Dining style: Individual Tables
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included
Drinks included: Juices, soft drinks, Tanzanian beer, selected wines, tea and coffee served during meals and at the bar are included. All other drinks, including cocktails and selected spirits, incur an additional cost.
Attitude towards children: Children of all ages are welcome at Exploreans Ngorongoro Safari Lodge.
Equipment: Each of the cottages has two day beds which can be converted into extra beds for children. Child minding services are also possible for a small additional charge. Please note that the babysitter will be one of the house keeping staff and not a qualified child minder. The lodge can arrange baby cots and high chairs on request.
Power supply: Mains Electricity
Communications: Each cottage has a telephone. WiFi is available at a charge of US$3 per hour. There is no computer available, so guests must have their own device to access the internet.
TV & radio: The lodge’s bar has a wall-mounted TV.
Health & safety
Malarial area: Yes
Medical care: Exploreans Ngorongoro’s manager is trained in first aid, and there is a first aid kit available at the lodge. The nearest doctor is in the small town of Karatu, about 15 minutes drive away.
Dangerous animals: Moderate Risk
Security measures: Each of the cottages has a safe in which to store personal belongings. A guard (askari) man’s the gate whilst others discreetly patrol the grounds on a 24 hour basis.
Fire safety: A detailed fire evacuation plan is included in each of the cottage’s room information pack. Fire extinguishers are fixed to the exterior of each cottage.
Disabled access: On Request
Laundry facilities: A full laundry service is available for an additional charge. Costs vary from about US$2-5 per item and clothes to be laundered are usually collected in the morning and returned at the end of the day. An express service is available but may incur a 50% surcharge depending on what time the request is received.