The Ngorongoro Serena Safari Lodge is very large but set in a great location
Ngorongoro Serena Safari Lodge: Our full report
The Ngorongoro Serena Lodge is set on the rim of Ngorongoro Crater, only 8km from the descent road. There are stunning views from all of the bedrooms and many of the public areas. On a clear day, looking through the lodge telescope it is even possible to see the wildlife roaming around! Due to this spectacular location, the Ngorongoro Serena is a very popular lodge – it can accommodate up to 165 people at one time.
The lodge sits off the main road, below its car park. Despite its size, it blends in quite well with its surroundings. It is made from stone and wood and has dense, green creepers clinging to its outside walls.
The lodge has 75 bedrooms – all of which are fairly small and ordinary. Their best feature is undoubtedly the French doors which open out to a view of the Crater; otherwise they're very unremarkable.
The bedrooms are linked to the public areas of the lodge by wide walkways built of wood and polished stone. There is a huge restaurant (buffet is the norm), a bar, a TV area, decked, outside seating areas and a curio shop. Stone fireplaces have been built into some of the rooms – there is one in the reception area and in the dining room – which are welcome in the evenings as it does get cool up here, especially at night. (The altitude here is 2,326m – or 7,633 feet.)
As well as the fireplace, the busy reception area at the Ngorongoro Serena Lodge has white, painted walls with stencils of stampeding wildebeest, a high ceiling and polished, wood floors. High-backed, dark wood-and-leather benches are also decorated with stampeding animals, and spears hang on the walls. Off the main reception area is a small curio shop which stocks a few toiletries as well as a good range of souvenirs. Just through reception, there are two computers which are connected to the internet and can be used at extra cost.
The TV area, bar and restaurant all link into each other and share the rust, green, burgundy and blue colour theme. There is also a splash of brass and wooden beams on the ceilings. As you walk through the large wooden doors, the first thing you see and hear is the TV in the corner, which is on all day, aurrounded by a few comfy chairs.
The bar has a dark, polished stone floor and plenty of wood. There are dark wood beams on the white painted ceilings and the bar is made up of polished wood panelling. Wicker lights hang from iron light fittings and a stone fireplace warms the room from under a circular brass chimney flue. Brightly-striped wooden chairs are placed around small, wooden tables but if you prefer you can sit in one of the high leather backed chairs at the bar. This room is large and although uninspiring, makes the best of the space that it uses. There are a few low, stone walls with tables and chairs behind them which try to add a cosy feel to the room.
There is also a self-service tea and coffee stand tucked into a corner of the bar. This is available all day and is generally accompanied by a few biscuits and cakes at tea-time.
The Ngorongoro Serena Lodge doesn't pretend to be anything other than a large and impersonal lodge. Its design lacks any personal touches or style, and feels very dated. Its bedrooms are small and unimaginative, and the public areas lack any real atmosphere.
That said, it is comfortable, functional and one of only a few lodges on the edge of the Crater. It is a fairly reasonable cost for a location that is both breathtaking and very convenient for safaris into the Crater.
Because of the large groups that often use this lodge, overbookings here are common. If you would like to include the Ngorongoro Serena in a trip, please understand that Expert Africa can take no responsibility for any overbooking. In such an event, we'll do our best to help make alternative arrangements for you – but we will not take responsibility for any additional costs or any resultant changes to your itinerary.
Ideal length of stay: 2 nights.
Directions: 8km from the Crater descent road.
Staff: Ernest is the supervisor.
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: Breakfast – 6:30 – 9:00, consists of choosing what you would like from a hot and cold buffet.
Lunch - 12:30 – 2:30, is also a hot and cold buffet. You can choose from a large selection of food, including, salads, cold meats and vegetarian options. The hot meal changes daily.
Dinner - 7:30 – 9:30, is the only a la carte meal served at the lodge – although a buffet is also available. Again, there is quite a large choice here and it will all be served to your table. As with the hot lunches, the dinner menu also changes daily.
The food here isn't gourmet, but there is a lot of choice and plenty of it.
Dining style: Individual Tables
Dining locations: Indoor Dining
Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included
Drinks included: No drinks are included at the Ngorongoro Serena Lodge. The last time we were there, (September 07), a beer cost roughly $4 and a bottle of water cost about $2.50
Photographic: The views of the Crater from the top of the descent road, on a clear day, are spectacular. Once inside the crater there is a large amount of wildlife and diverse landscape. Photographers will find this a real gem as the colours, in the right light, are varied and contrasting.See more ideas for Photographic in Tanzania
Wildlife safaris: The Serena is in an ideal location for a visit to the beautiful Ngorongoro Crater – which is home to perhaps Africa's greatest concentration of wildlife, including lion, elephant, rhino, leopard and buffalo. The Crater is also the world's largest intact volcanic caldera, and a World Heritage Site.See more ideas for Wildlife safaris in Tanzania
Attitude towards children: Children are welcome at Ngorongoro Serena Lodge.
Equipment: There are cots and highchairs here.
Generally recommended for children: Yes
Power supply: Generator
Communications: There are telephones in all of the bedrooms. There are two computers linked to the internet that guests can use. The last time we visited, this cost $5 for 15 minutes or $10 for half an hour. Reception will burn photographs onto CD's for $10 per CD.
TV & radio: Most rooms do not have televisions, but the 'executive suite' does, and there's one in the hotel's lounge.
Health & safety
Malarial area: Yes
Medical care: There is a first aid kit at the lodge and some of the staff are trained to use it.
Dangerous animals: High Risk
Security measures: There is 24 hour security. 4 guards are on shift at one time.
Fire safety: There are fire extinguishers in all rooms. Some of the staff are trained to use them.
Disabled access: On Request
Laundry facilities: Laundry is not included at Ngorongoro Serena Lodge. Items cost roughly between $1 - $5. The lodge also has an express service at no extra cost – if you hand your laundry to reception in the morning, you will get it back the same evening.
Money: The lodge accepts US$, Sterling, Euros, Tanzanian Shillings and Kenyan Shillings. They also accept travellers cheques. There is a safe in reception that guests can use.