Plantation Lodge is full of colonial charm and overlooks coffee plantations...
Plantation Lodge: Our full report
Plantation Lodge is half way between the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and Lake Manyara National Park. A short distance from the bustling market town of Karatu, it is set in nearly 3 hectares of land on a working farm and coffee plantation, with great views over the surrounding farmland. Very spacious, elegant and relaxing, it has a distinctly German colonial-style feel and is staffed entirely by people from the local area.
A highlight of Plantation Lodge is the garden, full of scents and colours. Countless hibiscus, bougainvillea and blossoms attract an array of butterflies and birds. Tall rubber, eucalyptus and banana trees offer shade. Lush, immaculately manicured lawns surround the sprawling farmhouse and its cottages. There are numerous corners to relax with a complimentary tea or coffee.
The main house at Plantation Lodge – incorporating the lounge and dining rooms – is fresh, light and airy. White walls act as the perfect backdrop for black-and-white photographs and African curios. Straw mats line the cool tiled floors and high-beamed ceilings ensure a bright and spacious feel.
In the small sitting room, heavy, deep-red curtains frame a glass wall which ensures it's light and bright. Cushioned, wooden chairs surround a low table and sit in front of the cosy bar, while thoughtful touches come from African curios, antique carafes and carved, wooden board games. A range of complimentary teas and coffees are available here throughout the day.
Meals, focusing on farm-grown produce, are served in two large, elegant dining rooms, one seating up to 25 guests, the other up to 40. Stylish metal chandeliers hang over long wooden tables lined with white canvas directors' chairs, and white curtains frame floor-length windows and French doors. At each end of the rooms are exposed brick fireplaces, surrounded in one by white-cushioned chairs and a sofa.
Meals can also be served outside, perhaps in the cool courtyard or in the extensive gardens, or – on request – in the glass-ceilinged wine cellar, where wine tastings can also be arranged. Located above the cellar, and looking into it, is a large and impressive bar, whose wire chandeliers, polished concrete floors and white-washed walls lend a cool and stylish feel. To the front, a decking area with a lovely view is a great place to relax under the shade of umbrellas.
Plantation Lodge also has a good-sized, kidney-shaped swimming pool complete with sunloungers, and sharing the views over the plantations and gardens.
Stone paths lead from the main house to Plantation Lodge's rooms, which are dotted around the garden. Some are detached; others are adjacent to each other in small groups, like stableblocks. There are two types of room, all decorated and finished to a high quality and all with garden views:
- The 16 standard rooms are all slightly different, but they're all fairly spacious and well decorated – most with double beds and colourful African bedspreads. Some have a veranda with sunloungers; all have smart, sparkling en-suite facilities. Several will interconnect to form family rooms.
( Read more about the rooms here... )
- The 4 suites are equally smart, but rather larger, and feel much more private than the standard rooms.
Activities: Plantation Lodge organises free guided walks to explore the coffee plantation, the flower farm and the vegetable plots. Guides explain the coffee-making process and the lodge's history.
As the lodge is half way between Lake Manyara National Park and the Ngorongoro Crater, Plantation is a good place to base yourself with a guide and 4WD vehicle in order to spend your days on safari in either area.
Expert Africa's team have visited Plantation Lodge on three separate occasions in the last few years, most recently in May 2011, and it's always been immaculately presented – clean and really well kept with generally helpful staff. We think that it's a lovely base from which to explore the Ngorongoro and Lake Manyara areas – but if you do stay here, then try to make time to sit in the garden, in the shade of a eucalyptus, with a cup of fresh coffee, to admire the views over the plantation.
Ideal length of stay: 1 to 2 nights is often all our trips spend here – which seems a shame as the lodge would be a lovely place to just relax at for longer.
Directions: Plantation Lodge is situated off the main Karatu Road, about 25 minutes' drive from the Ngorongoro Gate.
Owner: Independent/Owner-run – Udo & Renate Marahrens
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: Most of the meals served at Plantation Lodge use ingredients from the gardens or the plantation: organically grown and full of flavour.
At breakfast, served between 6.00am and 9.00am, guests can choose from a selection of cold foods such as cereals and muffins, or have a cooked breakfast.
Lunch, either hot or cold, is served between midday and 2.00pm. It is possible to eat inside, on the lawn or by the poolside. On our last visit (May 2011) we enjoyed a four-course meal of leek and potato soup, followed by a fresh tomato, avocado and lettuce salad, then a filling and delicious plate of prawn tagliatelle and pesto fusilli, rounding off the meal with a creamy home-made amarula and cashew-nut ice-cream.
For those visiting some of the nearby parks, Plantation Lodge will prepare a packed lunch.
Dinner, a three-course sit-down affair, is served 7.30pm–9.00pm.
Dining style: Individual Tables
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included
Drinks included: Drinks are included for guests staying in the suites.
Attitude towards children: Children are welcome at Plantation Lodge.
Equipment: Plantation Lodge has no specific equipment, but with enough notice they may be able to help with highchairs and cots.
Generally recommended for children: Yes – there are large grounds and a swimming pool that children can enjoy under parental supervision.
Notes: Children are encouraged to go on guided walks around the plantation with their parents.
Power supply: Mains Electricity
Communications: There is cellphone reception at Plantation Lodge. The lodge has two computers with free internet, and offers free WiFi.
TV & radio: There is no radio or television at Plantation Lodge.
Health & safety
Malarial area: Yes
Medical care: Plantation Lodge has a first-aid kit, and the nearest clinic is in Karatu town.
Dangerous animals: Low Risk
Security measures: There are guards on duty 24 hours a day.
Fire safety: Each bedroom has a fire extinguisher.
Disabled access: On Request
Laundry facilities: Laundry is available at an extra cost.