Lemala Ngorongoro

Lemala Ngorongoro: Our full report

Rooms
8 tents
Traveller's rating
Good (81%) From 14 reviews
Open
1 June – 30 Se to 1 Dec – 31 Mar

Lemala Ngorongoro is located on the quieter eastern side of the Ngorongoro Crater rim, a short drive past the Lemala Gate, making it very convenient for getting into the Crater as early as possible. It has more of a bush feel than many lodges in the area, and so would suit the more adventurous traveller.

Lemala Ngorongoro's location is very peaceful with plenty of birdlife, and buffalo and elephant are known to wander through the camp at night. Although the camp doesn't have direct views over the crater itself, it does have lovely views over the rolling hills and forests in the opposite direction to the crater.

Lemala Ngorongoro has nine comfortable Meru-style tents located in a grove of umbrella thorn acacia trees. All are en-suite and are decorated in a similar style. Each can be equipped with either two twin beds or one king-size double bed. The beds are covered with neutral white bedspreads brightened-up with a couple of colourful scatter cushions. At the end of each bed are matching brightly coloured kikois, some in orange or red, adding a splash of colour to the tent.

In a corner of each tent at Lemala Ngorongoro is a small writing desk with a reading lamp; our tent also had a couple of wildlife magazines to browse through. A leather director's chair stands in front of the desk. There are also two wooden lockable chests which can be used either to put your luggage on or for locking your valuables away. On the far side of each tent is a metal and canvas shelving and hanging unit for storing clothes.

A canvas screen separates the bedroom area from the bathroom, behind which is a spacious area with a table and a mirror. Here is a freestanding washstand with a brass basin on top, next to which soft, fluffy white towels are stored. The flush toilet and the shower are in two separate cubicles, each leading off the changing area.

Hot water for the basin, as well as the shower, needs to be asked for a few minutes in advance. (The Lemala team of staff will then heat water over the fire, and fill your 'system' when you request it; we had lovely hot showers within 15 minutes of asking for hot water!).

Throughout the tent, a wooden floor has been laid on top of the canvas floor. This helps to keep the damp and cold out. Each tent at Lemala Ngorongoro has a gas heater, which is very welcome as the nights are usually very cold, high up on the Ngorongoro Crater rim.

The camp has a spacious mess tent, with a large dining table which can be extended to seat up to 16 people. At meal times this is covered by a crisp white linen table cloth. The plates are decorated with animal print designs and the staff have fun every day coming up with different origami designs for the napkins! When not in use, this table is usually covered with a traditional maasai red and blue checked table cloth.

At the other end of the mess tent is the lounge area, floored with canvas and covered with a selection of grass mats and Persian-style rugs. An antique cabinet stores the drinks, which are normally included here –on a 'help yourself' basis. On the canvas walls hang a few black and white photographs in rustic wooden frames, and in the corner is an oil heater to ward off the winter chill.

This lounge area is dominated by two comfortable sofas, arranged around a large wooden coffee table. This is laden with books, magazines and a bao board to keep guests entertained. Outside the mess tent, the campfire is surrounded by director's chairs – and it's a popular place for guests to meet for pre-dinner drinks.

Activities at Lemala Ngorongoro depend on how you visit it. Most of our visitors will stay at Lemala Ngorongoro with their own private safari guide and 4WD; the camp doesn't have any of its own resident guides. (It is possible to fly-in, and have a guide waiting for you here.)

Whilst here, the focus of most visits is the drives down into the Ngorongoro Crater. However, there's good walking nearby, and a number of local villages that welcome visitors. If you want to do some walking here then let us know when you book your trip, as we have to arrange for you to be escorted by a park ranger, and you may also need a local Masaai guide.

Our view

Lemala Ngorongoro has very easy access to the crater floor; it's close to the 'Sopa' descent road on the eastern side of the crater (in fact closer to it than the Sopa Lodge after which the road is named – and it's actually inside the park gate!) It is also a good spot to do some walking amongst the forests and the hills of the crater rim, or to visit a local Masaai village.

Geographics

Location: Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania

Ideal length of stay: 2 - 3 nights

Directions: Most visitors will be driven to Lemala Ngorongoro in their own private 4WD. The nearest reliable airstrip is Manyara Airstrip, which is 2 hours drive away. There is a small airstrip on the Crater Rim, but there's often thick cloud cover here, so this is not often used – and cannot be relied upon.

Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer

Key personnel

Owner: Grumeti Expeditions

Food & drink

Usual board basis: Full Board

Food quality: When we visited Lemala Ngorongoro in July 2008 there was some confusion over our arrival time and we were not expected for lunch. However, within half an hour the chef had managed to put together a three course meal for us! We had a soup starter, followed by spaghetti bolognese, finished off with fresh fruit salad. It was all very impressive and no fuss was made.

That evening there were more guests in camp and dinner was served to us around the table in the mess tent. We had steak with a pepper sauce with a selection of fresh vegetables, all of which was very tasty followed by a chocolate tart and coffee.

The following evening, dinner was a buffet style barbecue. We helped ourselves to a selection of salads and roast potatoes and then picked our meat from the barbecue. This ranged from sausages to beef steak and lamb and pork chops. It was a very sociable affair.

During dinner complimentary house wine was served by the waiter.

Breakfast times varied depending on the timings of your activities. A choice of cereals, yoghurts and breads are laid out for you to choose from and eggs and bacon are cooked to order by the chef in Lemala's little tented kitchen beside the mess tent.
Breakfast times varied depending on the timings of your activities. A choice of cereals, yoghurts and breads are laid out for you to choose from and eggs and bacon are cooked to order by the chef in his little tented kitchen beside the mess tent.

Dining style: Group Meals

Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining

Drinks included: House wine, local beer and spirits are included. Other wines, champagne and liqueurs are extra.

Further dining info: 'Room service' in your tent is available, but at an additional cost of US$10 per person.

Special interests

Solo Travel: Located in the fantastic Ngorongoro Crater, Lemala is an excellent choice for solo travel. Wildlife safaris reveal a large density of game, including very relaxed predators. The low single supplement makes it affordable even for single travellers on holiday.

See more ideas for Solo Travel in Tanzania

Walking safaris: Lemala is in a hilly, forested part of the Ngorongoro Crater rim; it's a pretty area which is lovely for walking; when escorted by an armed park ranger. Such walks can be long or short, taking you through the rolling hills of the crater rim, with the option of visiting local Maasai villages on the way.

See more ideas for Walking safaris in Tanzania

Wildlife safaris: Lemala Luxury Camp is actually inside the park gate to the Ngorongoro Crater itself, and so you can be one if the first visitors of the day onto the crater floor – one of Africa's greatest wildlife sanctuaries.

See more ideas for Wildlife safaris in Tanzania

Children

Attitude towards children: Lemala Ngorongoro isn't really a very child-friendly camp, and whilst older children are accepted here – the camp makes no special provisions for them.

Property’s age restrictions: No children under 5 years are accepted

Special activities & services: None

Equipment: None

Notes: We don't recommend Lemala Camp for young children; it's not set up for them, it's not fenced and dangerous big game walks freely through the camp.

Infrastructure

Power supply: Generator

Communications: There is mobile phone reception. There are no land lines or internet reception.

TV & radio: No

Health & safety

Malarial protection recommended: Yes

Medical care: There is a doctor at the Sopa Lodge 5km's away and the nearest hospital is in Arusha which is 4 hours' drive away.

Dangerous animals: High Risk

Security measures: There are askaris (masaai guards) to escort you to and from your tent after dark. Big and dangerous game animals do wander through Lemala Ngorongoro, night and day. Game is known to wander into camp at night.

Fire safety: There are four fire extinguishers around the camp. One in the mess tent, one in the kitchen tent and two shared between the 8 tents.

Extras

Disabled access: On Request

Laundry facilities: Laundry is included, however it is limited to a maximum of three items per person per day as everything needs to be washed by hand and dried in the sun.

Money: There is no facility for exchanging money. Wooden lock-up boxes are available in each tent for safekeeping of valuables.

Accepted payment on location: No credit cards or travelers cheques are accepted. Cash is accepted in US dollars, euros and Tanzanian Shillings.