Rhino Lodge is a great value base...
Rhino Lodge: Our full report
Opened in 2007, Rhino Lodge is a well-run and relatively large lodge in a great location facing dense forest on the slopes of the Ngorongoro Crater, close to the rim. It’s refreshingly simple with a relaxed atmosphere, and is operated in conjunction with the governing body of the area’s Maasai, to ensure that they benefit from the lodge’s success. Almost all the staff come from the local village, and part of the lodge’s income goes directly to the Maasai community.
The main lodge is built with solid stone walls which are a muted green on the outside, and whitewashed on the inside. The floors are highly polished stone and in the main dining room, colourful tablecloths top the tables that are dotted around. A large central fireplace is surrounded by several comfortable sofas; on our last visit to Rhino Lodge in May 2011 this proved a cosy place to settle after dinner and pit your bao skills (a traditional African board game) against the local Maasai! A small bar is situated in one corner.
Outside the main area, decking set with small tables and directors’ chairs is a lovely spot to sit and watch for any passing buffalo in the forest.
The 24 rooms at Rhino Lodge are situated in a terraced rows around an outside courtyard, with a long wooden veranda on one side, facing the forest. Inside, the rooms are simple, with tiled floors, whitewashed walls and comfortable beds. Bed throws and curtains made from Maasai blankets add a touch of style and colour, and a small fireburner will keep you warm in the cooler months. There is also space to hang clothes, and a small writing desk and dresser where you’ll find a mirror and some bottled water. The result is a simple functional room, with a traditional character.
The en-suite bathrooms are again quite simple, but spotlessly clean, with a hot shower, flushing toilet and handbasin. A wrought-iron towel rail and loo-roll holder break up the slightly clinical feel and lend some character. There is also a UK-style plug socket in the wall.
From Rhino Lodge you will usually head out on activities with your own private vehicle and guide. It is a very good base from which to explore the Ngorongoro Crater, as it's only about 20 minutes' drive from the main ‘descent’ road to the Crater floor. You can also head out on beautiful two–three-hour walks in the Ngorongoro highlands; these cost US$20 per group, plus it’s usual to tip your guide.
Our viewRhino Lodge is a simple lodge with a clear purpose and approach. It’s relatively Spartan, but for the more adventurous traveller, it is an interesting and economical place to stay with enviably close access to the Crater floor. We first visited Rhino Lodge when it first opened in 2007 and were impressed; four years on, we felt it still continued to live up to its promise.
Ideal length of stay: Spend two nights at Rhino Lodge in order to explore the Crater floor for one day – or stay a little longer to enjoy some walking as well.
Directions: Rhino Lodge is immediately next to the Ngorongoro Crater's rim; around a 3½ hour drive from Arusha, or a 2-hour drive from Lake Manyara.
Owner: Adventure Camps
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: The food at Rhino Lodge is quite simple, yet hearty and filling, and there is plenty to go around. Complimentary tea, coffee and hot chocolate are available from a self-service bar throughout the day.
Breakfast is served from 6.00am until 9.00am and usually consists of plenty of fruit, fresh bread, eggs cooked to your liking and fresh juice. Tea and coffee are also available.
Guests are usually provided with a packed lunch, so that you don't have to return to the lodge. Rhino Lodge provides sandwiches, fresh fruit, a snack such as biscuits or cake, and a drink.
If the lodge is full, dinner is usually a buffet, but for fewer guests there will be a set three-course menu. On our last visit in May 2011 we enjoyed zucchini soup to start, followed by a choice of either chicken masala or meatballs, with rice or potatoes. We then had a fruit salad for dessert. In general the food varies between Swahili and internationally influenced dishes.
Dining style: Individual Tables
Dining locations: Indoor Dining
Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included
Drinks included: Drinks are not included.
Attitude towards children: Rhino Lodge welcomes children of all ages.
Equipment: Rhino Lodge has a cot for small children.
Generally recommended for children: Rhino Lodge is a relaxed and welcoming place that would be a great place for children, however wild animals do pass through the camp so parents must always supervise their children.
Power supply: Generator
Communications: There is cellphone reception at Rhino Lodge.
TV & radio: There is no radio at Rhino Lodge, but there is DSTV or satellite television in the reception area.
Health & safety
Malarial area: Yes
Medical care: Rhino Lodge has a basic first-aid kit on site. There is a small hospital nearby in Ngorongoro.
Dangerous animals: High Risk
Security measures: There are askaris (local guards) patrolling throughout the day and night.
Fire safety: There are fire extinguishers outside each room.
Disabled access: Not Possible
Laundry facilities: Laundry at Rhino Lodge is an extra cost. It is hand washed and usually returned to you within 24 hours, depending on the weather.
Money: There are no currency exchange facilities at Rhino Lodge.