Ngorongoro Farm Lodge is a pretty haven, conveniently close to the Ngorogoro Crater
Ngorongoro Farmhouse Lodge: Our full report
The Ngorongoro Farmhouse Lodge is a lovely lodge just outside of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. Set in 750 acres of private farmland, it is comfortable, well laid out and has some lovely views across the farm and across to Oldeani Volcano. The Farmhouse Lodge opened in 2003, and since then has been offering good value accommodation and is a great base for visiting both the Ngorongoro Crater and Lake Manyara National Park.
The lodge is still a fully functional farm – they grow their own wheat and the organic garden produces a lot of the vegetables used in the food. The farm is also home to cows, pigs and sheep.
Ngorongoro Farmhouse Lodge also has the feel of a farmhouse - as you arrive at the lodge, you are greeted with large, open grassy lawns which stretch across to the main areas.
Ngorongoro Farmhouse Lodge actually has 51 rooms (big by our usual standards), although when you're there, it feels much, much smaller. This is because the lodge is effectively divided into two parts – each with its own communal bar and lounge area, and set of rooms. (About 26 rooms each side!) This division helps maintain the atmosphere of a small and intimate lodge.
These central areas at Ngorongoro Farmhouse Lodge are spacious, immaculately kept and very comfortable. The restaurant and lounge areas are situated in a large, single-storey farmhouse-style building with white-washed walls and a thatched roof. Inside, red-tiled floors, wrought-iron chandeliers and bare brick fireplaces complete the effect: this does feel like an old colonial farm.
The majority of the inside space is set out for dining, with individual tables varying in size, though corners with comfortable white sofas act as lounge areas, and there’s a coffee table topped with wildlife and anthropological history books.
The bar – made with bare red brick and gnarled wood – continues the rustic theme. You can sit here – though the waiter will also bring drinks to the lounge if you prefer. The bar has an extensive collection of around 30 South Africa wines – it is certainly one of the most extensive we have found in Tanzania.
However, a great place to enjoy a drink is the wide outside deck in front of the building. A warming fire is lit each night – which due to the cool air at the base of the Crater Highlands is very welcome. From the deck you can see right out across the farm and watch the sunset.
During the day, the large 3m-deep swimming pool is a welcome place to relax and swim, with sunloungers and plenty of shade. Children will also enjoy the volleyball and crocquet that are often set up on the lawns.
For souvenirs, Ngorongoro Farmhouse Lodge has an extensive and well-stocked gift shop selling a variety of curious. There are carvings, jewellery, clothes, maps and art for sale.
The bedrooms are scattered through pretty gardens dotted with colourful flower beds. In front of the rooms is a long stone pathway which leads back to the main areas, then the back of the rooms face onto the open fields of farmland. The rooms are neat and spacious; the furniture and soft furnishings are simple yet very effectively put together. The result is natural, stylish and very comfortable. (Read more about the rooms at Farmhouse Lodge...)
Whilst based at the Ngorongoro Farmhouse Lodge, activities are mainly focused on 4x4 vehicle safaris. There are no resident vehicles or guides at the lodge, so you will need to stay here with your own private vehicle and guide (which we can arrange for you). Whilst based at Ngorongoro Farmhouse Lodge, you can explore both Lake Manyara National Park and the Ngorongoro Crater.
If you would like to spend a morning or an afternoon at the lodge, you can head out on a nature walk around the farm. Or indulge in a massage at the 'spa' here which costs $40 for an hour. (It's really simply a nice room set aside for massages.)
Whilst the Farmhouse Lodge is comparatively large compared to the other properties in Karatu – it really doesn't feel big. The division of the guests between two areas helps this enormously. But it is also because the lodge is so well laid out – the rooms are nicely spread through the grounds and the mature gardens help to conceal the lodge's size.
When we last visited this property we were really impressed – it was immaculately clean, very comfortable and the team were really welcoming and friendly.
Ideal length of stay: Spend two nights at Ngorongoro Farmhouse Lodge if you want to have a full day exploring the floor of the Ngorongoro Crater. However, if you want to use this lodge as a base to explore Lake Manyara National Park as well, then spend at least three nights here.
Directions: Ngorongoro Farmhouse Lodge is situated just 5kms from the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, near to the small town of Karatu. It takes approximately three hours to drive here from Arusha. Alternatively, fly to Manyara airstrip and then drive for 45 minutes to reach the lodge.
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: When we were last at the Ngorongoro Farmhouse we did not get a chance to sample the food. However, the manager explained in great detail what the lodge offered.
This includes flexible timings around guests activities, in door and outdoor dining, and fresh produce grown on the farm. We also saw the team setting up the buffet for lunch and the food looked very tasty.
Breakfast usually consists of fresh fruit, cereal, yogurt and also a cooked breakfast. You can order the cooked breakfast with eggs cooked as you like them. You can also try some of the Arabica coffee which is grown on site.
For lunch you will probably want to head out on an all day safari and not have to return to the lodge. If this is the case, Ngorongoro Farmhouse Lodge can prepare a packed lunch for you, which usually consists of a sandwich and a few nibbly things such as cake, peanuts, hard boiled eggs or maybe barbequed chicken.
If you do decide to return to the lodge for lunch, you can expect either a buffet or a set four-course meal depending on the day's menu.
Dinner is then a slightly more formal affair – with a set menu of four courses. This is made mostly from fresh produce prepared on the farm. To accompany dinner is a very extensive wine list, with wines mainly from South Africa.
Dining style: Individual Tables
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Drinks included: Drinks are not included at the Ngorongoro Farmhouse Lodge. A beer is around $2; a soft drink / soda is $1.
Family holidays: Ngorongoro Farmhouse is a good-value base without age restrictions for Tanzania family holidays - and a working farm! Expect extensive lawns, animals, a large pool, funky highchairs, flexible dining and games like volleyball! You'll need to book private vehicle and guide.See more ideas for Family holidays in Tanzania
Attitude towards children: Children are welcome at Ngorongoro Farmhouse Lodge.
Property’s age restrictions: There are no age restrictions at Ngorongoro Farmhouse Lodge.
Special activities & services: Ngorongoro Farmhouse Lodge has games such as crocket on the lawns and volleyball. They can also offer babysitting, though guests should be aware that the child-minder will come from the house keeping team, and will not have special training in this area.
Equipment: Cots and high chairs.
Generally recommended for children: Yes
Notes: When we last visited Ngorongoro Farmhouse Lodge, we felt that it was a really welcoming lodge that had a number of facilities geared towards families. This includes all of the games, cots and even high chairs which were designed to look like giraffes!
Communications: Ngorongoro Farmhouse Lodge has internet which is available to guests. This costs $5 for 30 minutes. There is intermittent mobile phone reception around the lodge, and you can also phone internationally from your room which will be charged to your tab.
TV & radio: The lodge has a TV in the conference room.
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: Yes
Medical care: There is a doctor who lives on site at Ngorongoro Farmhouse Lodge and there is also a dispensary.
Dangerous animals: Moderate Risk
Security measures: Ngorongoro Farmhouse Lodge has 12 Maasai guards.
Fire safety: There are fire extinguishers dotted around the lodge and members of the staff are trained to use them.
Disabled access: On Request
Laundry facilities: Laundry is an additional charge of $1.50 - 3 depending on the item.
Money: Ngorongoro Farmhouse Lodge cannot offer any kind of currency exchange.
Accepted payment on location: When you settle your tab at Ngorongoro Farmhouse Lodge, you can pay using US dollars, Tanzanian shillings and Euros cash. You can also use dollars travellers' cheques, Visa and Mastercard without any charge. However, you cannot use Amex or pounds sterling (in cash or travellers' cheques) to settle your tab.