Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge is a large hotel on the rim of the Ngoro Crater.
Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge: Our full report
With 97 rooms, the Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge is a very large and rather dated hotel. However, it occupies a lovely spot right on the eastern edge of the Ngorongoro Crater. Its size means that it wouldn't be everyone's first choice of hotel, but the views over the Crater are superb.
The entrance to Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge is like that of almost any international style hotel in the world. Your car can drive right to the door, into a sheltered bay, where “Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge” is embossed on the wall in large gold letters. The reception, a broad semi-circular desk attended by a uniformed concierge, is dark red and polished dark wood.
The central areas of Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge are all within one large glass fronted building, which is shaped as two rondavels adjoined by a central area. These house the cavernous reception area, with a wide hallway and high roof. Here you will find an internet room with three computers, where you can surf the web for around $6 per 15 minutes. There is also a vast shop which sells a wide variety of curios, from materials to wooden carvings great and small.
Down a short staircase is a small lounge, and the entrance to the dining room on one side, and the lounge/bar opposite. It is as though the two separate areas are built in two wings, both of which are round and glass-fronted.
The dining room is dotted with tables and chairs and is able to seat around 220 people. The chairs are comfortable cushioned dining chairs that match the blue of the carpet. In the centre of the rooms is an open fire place to make the room cosy on cooler evenings. Over half of the room is glass-fronted, ensuring that most is made out of the spectacular location.
The lounge and bar at Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge is exactly the same shape as the dining room, and shares its views through the glass front. The lounge has a central fireplace, polished wooden floors, a long wooden bar and red-and-cream sofas clustered around coffee tables; it's spacious and cosy, yet like the rest of the lodge feels dated.
In front of the main building is the outside swimming pool which is surrounded by well manicured lush green grass. The pool occupies a lovely spot, with a view right out over the Ngorongoro Crater. There are wooden sun loungers dotted around the pool, faced to look out over the Crater.
The bedrooms are set in large two-storey rondavels, separate from the main building. There are two bedrooms in each rondavel, with one above the other, and each has views out over the Crater. The rooms here are spacious, spotlessly clean and have a large en-suite bathroom. (Click here for more on the bedrooms….)
Most people spend two nights here and the main activities are half-day or full-day visits into the Ngorongoro Crater. The Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge is close to the very quiet eastern road into the Crater. This road can be used for decents and ascents, but it sees very little traffic compared to the road on the western side of the Crater. It also means that you start your game-driving on the opposite side of the floor of the Crater to most people, and as a result you have a few hours there with relatively few other vehicles around. As mid-morning approaches, the Ngorongoro Crater inevitably gets a lot busier, but your first few hours will usually be peaceful and quiet.
Whilst staying Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge, travellers might also want to spend a day visiting Empaki Crater, which is only a 90-minute drive from this side of the Ngorongoro Crater. With a diameter of only 6km, Empaki Crater is smaller than the 'Ngoro' crater, but it is equally beautiful. Head here for a full day of walking down onto the crater floor, to look out for birds and monkeys in the forests on the way down, and on a clear day to look out across Lake Natron and Mount Kilimanjaro.
Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge is a very busy and popular hotel; unfortunately it is also renowned for over-booking. If you request it, then we can include this hotel in your trip, under one proviso: should the hotel not honour your booking, due to them having over-booked, then we are not to be held accountable. This proviso is not designed to cover a situation where Expert Africa is at fault, and naturally – we'll always do our utmost to resolve any situation that should arise with a booking here, or anywhere else.
This is a large property that screams: 'chain hotel'. It could be almost anywhere in the world, if it weren't for the shop selling African curios. For people looking for something small, intimate and authentic this is not the place. However, it has a great feeling of space and the views are absolutely magnificent. It is also great for families who have younger kids that would make the most of the pool.
Ideal length of stay: Stay here for at least two nights so that you can spend a full day on safari in the Ngorongoro Crater. If you are able to spend three nights here, then you can also spend a full day walking in the nearby and beautiful Empaki Crater.
Directions: Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge is located on the quiet eastern rim of the Ngorongoro Crater, near the lesser used eastern decent and ascent road. It takes about 1 hour to drive to the lodge from the Ngorongoro Conservation Area gate and around 90 minutes from Manyara Airstrip.
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: When we last visited the Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge, we didn't have a chance to sample the food. However we did have a long chat with the manager about what guests could expect. Special dietary requirements can be catered for with advanced notice.
Due to the size of Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge, it offers mostly buffet-style meals for its guests. This means that there are always a variety of options on offer.
Breakfast is a varied spread of cereals, breads, fruit and yoghurt. There are also a number of juices to choose from as well as tea and coffee. You can also have a cooked breakfast, with bacon, sausage, cooked mushrooms and tomatoes and eggs. The eggs are cooked in front of you as you like them, by the chef at the live cooking station.
Many of the guests decide to head into the Crater for a full day and so take a packed lunch with them. This consists of a sandwich, a snack such as a samosa or piece of barbequed chicken, a piece of fruit and a muffin or biscuit.
If you decide to stay in the lodge for lunch, then the buffet has a variety of options to cater for a variety of appetites. Snacks such as sandwiches, croque monsieur and salads are on offer. As well as larger meals such as pasta, stew or curry.
Dinner is then a larger, three-course meal, with a soup starter, a main course and a desert. For the main course there are four options, of which one will be a chicken dish, one will be red meat, fish and then lastly vegetarian. For desert there are also three choices.
Dining style: Individual Tables
Dining locations: Indoor Dining
Drinks included: Drinks are not included, you can expect to pay approximately $4 for a beer and about $27 for a bottle of the house wine.
Attitude towards children: Children of all ages are welcome at Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge.
Generally recommended for children: We would recommend the Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge for families. There is plenty of space here for children and the pool offers something to keep them occupied when you are not out on safari.
Power supply: Generator
Communications: There is intermittent mobile reception at Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge and you can use the phones in reception to call internationally, at the cost of around $6 per minute.
TV & radio: There is a television in the upstairs briefing room, this can be used on request.
Health & safety
Malarial area: Yes
Medical care: Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge has a medic (a person trained in first-aid) on site for minor cases. For more serious cases the nearest hospital is in Karatu which is a 90-minute drive away.
Dangerous animals: High Risk
Security measures: There are askaris (guards) dotted around the property during the day and night.
Fire safety: The main areas at Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge have fire extinguishers, and they are also dotted around outside the bedrooms.
Disabled access: In Place
Laundry facilities: Laundry is an extra Charge at Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge – the costs vary per item but the prices are reasonable.
Money: Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge can exchange small sums of money.