Rivertrees Country Inn: Our full report
On the banks of the Usa River, Rivertrees Country Inn is set in ten hectares of lush tropical gardens.Filled with flame trees, bougainvillea, hibiscus and banana trees, these are a haven for birdlife. On a clear day, from the lodge’s vantage point at the end of a long tree-lined driveway, halfway between the town of Arusha and Kilimanjaro International, it is possible to see both Mount Meru and Mount Kilimanjaro.
The old farmhouse at Rivertrees has been restored and converted into a main lounge, with a few separate seating areas. Furnished with antiques and with old framed photos of the property and surrounding area, it has a large fireplace and classic wooden parquet flooring. In one corner, a cabinet houses a selection of books, magazines and board games; in another is a small TV area. Afternoon tea is served here or out on the large covered veranda, overlooking well-tended lawns.
The dining room and bar are in a separate thatched building, which is completely open-sided with views over the gardens. The walls are part plaster and part exposed brick, and comfortable sofas create a small seating area around a fireplace. Tucked around the corner from the dining area is a rustic bar, made from the wood of an old dhow, and lined with chunky wooden bar stools and a satellite TV.
There is another newly-built, separate dining area nearby, which means the lodge can cater for large numbers of diners. It’s a popular place for locals to eat too, so there is often a good atmosphere in the evenings. The new pizza oven and barbecue are also proving very popular!
Rivertrees has 38 rooms dotted around the large property, all of which are en suite and have fans and mosquito nets. These are made up as follows:
- 30 standard garden rooms form the bulk of the accommodation, with each small cottage housing two separate rooms. Two of these cottages have interconnecting rooms, providing a good option for families. In terms of disabled access, room #9 has been recently modified, making it the most accessible.
Each room has red polished concrete floors dotted with traditional grass mats, under a whirring ceiling fan. The furniture comprises a wooden four-poster bed (or twin or triple beds), draped with mosquito nets, a writing desk and chair, a day bed, and a simple wardrobe. It's all very solidly built, and should be cool – even when temperatures outside are high. Comfort is not at the expense of style, though, as each room features pretty soft furnishings and striking pieces of furniture and art. The rooms are often decked out with large zinc buckets of fresh roses (Tanzania is one of the largest exporters of roses to Europe).
The white-tiled en-suite bathroom is small and functional with a single smooth concrete basin, shower cubicle with shower curtain, and a toilet. All the rooms also have a striking insulated concrete bath. Complimentary toiletries are provided. Outside each room is a small, covered veranda with two wooden chairs and a table.
- Four rooms within the old farmhouse accommodate up to ten guests; it can be booked exclusively, making it ideal for large families or groups. Private dinners can be held here, but otherwise the farmhouse is open to any guests at the lodge for relaxing.
- Two cottages stand on the banks of the Usa River, with the relaxing sound of flowing water nearby. These are very similar in style and furnishings to the standard rooms, and can be either twins or doubles, but are quite a bit larger. Each has a small seating area with two armchairs and a table beside a fireplace – lovely for chilly evenings.
The cottages have en-suite bathrooms that feel fairly light and spacious, with double basins set into a wooden cabinet, a separate bath, a shower cubicle and toilet. A door leads from the bathroom to a private outdoor shower. Fluffy white towels and bathrobes and complimentary toiletries are provided.
- The River House, which is also set on the river bank, has two separate en-suite double bedrooms, a separate living room with fireplace and satellite TV, and a wrap-around veranda where you can eat dinner if you want some privacy. Since the beds are doubles, and the bathrooms are fairly open, we would recommend this as a good option for couples travelling together or for families with older children.
A range of activities is available, although these really need to be booked in advance. It is possible to visit a village, tour a nearby coffee plantation, or go to see the local market. Horseriding is also an option, organised on a nearby farm; so is mountain biking and canoeing on the Usa River.
Rivertrees' location makes it a good place to stay overnight at the beginning or the end of a safari, or to relax for a few days and enjoy the surrounding area. It's a comfortable lodge and feels rather like visiting a homely country house for the weekend, in a calm and tranquil rural setting.
- Arusha, Tanzania
- Ideal length of stay
- One to two nights, depending on whether you are staying overnight at the beginning or end of a safari, or a bit longer to explore the local area.
- Rivertrees Country Inn is approximately half an hour's drive from the east side of Arusha town, a similar distance from Kilimanjaro International Airport, and around an hour and a half's drive from Arusha Airport. Timings should be used as guidance and will depend on traffic.
- Accessible by
Food & drink
- Usual board basis
- Half Board
- Food quality
- Breakfast is served from 6.30 to 9.30am. As well as a selection of continental options, you can order a cooked breakfast, including pancakes.
Lunch is a flexible, with a wide selection of dishes on offer on the à la carte menu. During our last visit in June 2017, we enjoyed a hearty pumpkin soup and roasted vegetable pizza – made in the new pizza oven and very enjoyable!
Dinner, served from 7.00 to 9.30pm, is usually a four- or five-course meal featuring international-style food with an African influence.
Dining can take place in a variety of locations around the lodge – both indoor and outdoor, depending on the weather. On sunny days, the dining tables may be set out on the lawns under large shady trees. There is an open kitchen, so you can watch the chefs as they prepare your home-cooked evening meal using fresh vegetables, herbs and fruit from Rivertrees' extensive vegetable gardens. With this in mind, we'd expect all the food here to be very fresh and well-prepared.
- Dining style
- Individual Tables
- Dining locations
- Indoor and Outdoor Dining
- Further dining info, including room service
- Drinks included
- No – although filtered drinking water is provided.
- Attitude towards children
- Children are generally welcome at Rivertrees
- Property’s age restrictions
- Young children are not allowed in the River House but can be accommodated in all other rooms.
- Baby cots and highchairs are available.
- Generally recommended for children
- Children under three years old are accommodated free, if sharing with adults.
- Power supply notes
- There is 24-hour power and guests can charge batteries in their rooms.
- Free WiFi is available in all areas but signal strength varies throughout the rooms.
- TV & radio
- There is a satellite TV in the Bar.
- Water supply
- Water supply notes
- All rooms have plumbed in facilities.
Health & safety
- Malarial protection recommended
- Medical care
- There is a hospital nearby in Arusha.
- Dangerous animals
- Moderate Risk
- Security measures
- There is a guard at the main gate and security guards patrol the grounds at night.
- Fire safety
- There are fire extinguishers outside each room as well as in the main areas.
- Disabled access
- In Place
- Laundry facilities
- Laundry is available at an additional cost, but is not possible for those staying only one night.
- No exchange is possible at Rivertrees, but there are banks in Usa River.
Safe deposit boxes are available in reception.
- Accepted payment on location
- Visa and Mastercard are accepted with a 3% surcharge. Amex is accepted with a 4.6% surcharge. Rivertrees also accept cash in US dollars, euros Tanzanian shillings and pounds sterling.
Other lodges in Arusha
Alternative places to stay in this same area.
Arusha Coffee Lodge
Arusha Coffee Lodge is a neat, comfortable lodge, right on the highway, close to Arusha Airport. It is a convenient stop for a night.
Onsea House is a small, family-run guesthouse on the outskirts of Arusha. The rooms are quite simple, but service and food here are good.
Machweo is a nine-room lodge on the outskirts of Arusha. The rooms are large and stylish, and the service and food here are very good.
Kia Lodge is a simple, country-club-style lodge situated close to the buildings and runway of Kilimanjaro International Airport.
Katambuga House is a smart hotel on the western side of Arusha, an hour’s drive from Kilimanjaro Airport and 10 minutes from Arusha Airport.
Airport Planet Lodge
Airport Planet Lodge is a new hotel located close to Kilimanjaro Airport, making it ideal for a short stay before or after your international flight.
Hatari Lodge is designed around a bright, fun 1960s retro theme and is a relatively high-quality base to explore Arusha National Park.
Mount Meru Game Lodge
Mount Meru Game Lodge, near Arusha, is a good spot to stay en route to northern Tanzania's most famous safari areas.
Legendary Lodge is boutique luxury lodge, perfect for an indulgent overnight stay at the start or end of your safari.
Twiga is a Tudor-style lodge with welcoming owners, country-style gardens and a viewing platform looking onto Arusha National Park.
Arusha Serena Hotel
The Serena Arusha Hotel is a comfortable hotel close to Lake Duluti. It makes a good stopover before or after a safari in northern Tanzania.
Siringit Kilimanjaro Golf Safari Retreat is a six-bedroom villa offering a luxury stay in complete privacy on a championship golf course.