Photos by the Expert Africa team on our last visit to Rivertrees Country Inn
Rivertrees Country Inn: Our full report
At the end of a long tree-lined driveway, halfway between the town of Arusha and Kilimanjaro International Airport, Rivertrees Country Inn lies on the banks of the Usa River within four hectares of lush, well-tended, tropical gardens. Filled with flame trees, bougainvillea, hibiscus and banana trees, these are a haven for birdlife, and the lodge's rural location adds to its feeling of calm and tranquillity. On a clear day it is possible to see Mount Meru and Mount Kilimanjaro from here.
The old farmhouse at Rivertrees has been restored and converted into the lodge's main lounge area. Furnished with antiques and with old framed photos of the property and surrounding areas on the walls, it has a large fireplace and a few separate seating areas. In one corner, a cabinet houses a selection of books, magazines and board games; in another is a small TV area with satellite TV. 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. On sunny days the dining tables may be moved out on to the lawns under large shady trees. There is an open kitchen, too, so you can watch the chefs as they prepare your evening meal: home-cooked food, using fresh vegetables, herbs and fruit from Rivertrees' extensive vegetable gardens. There is also a small seating area with comfortable sofas 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.
Rivertrees has a total of 14 rooms dotted around the large property, all of which are en suite and have fans and mosquito nets. These are made up as follows:
- 10 standard rooms form the bulk of the accommodation. Three of these are located in the original old farmhouse, with the other seven grouped together nearby. Each has red-polished concrete floors dotted with traditional grass mats, under a whirring ceiling fan. The furniture consists of 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 very cool – even when temperatures outside are high
The white-tiled en-suite bathroom is small and functional with a single basin, shower cubicle with shower curtain, and a toilet. Some of the rooms also have a bath. Complimentary toiletries are provided. Outside is a small, covered veranda with two small wooden chairs and a table.
- 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. Both cottages have a ramp and handrails and are Rivertrees' most wheelchair-accessible option.
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 located 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 two couples travelling together as opposed to families, indeed they don't generally allow children to stay here.
Rivertrees is a lovely place to relax, whether wandering through the tree-lined gardens or by the large swimming pool, with its own changing room. There are a few sunloungers as well as a comfortable-looking day-bed underneath a thatch roof – very inviting for an afternoon siesta! Rivertrees also has a recently built massage banda where they will offer a variety of spa treatments.
A range of activities is also available, although these really need to be booked in advance. It is possible to visit a local village, tour a nearby coffee plantation, or go to see the local market. Horseriding is also an option, organised on a nearby farm.
Our viewRivertrees' 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, often decked out with large zinc buckets of fresh roses (Tanzania is one of the largest exporters of roses to Europe!), and feels rather like visiting a homely country house for the weekend.
Ideal length of stay: 1–2 nights is the average stay, depending on whether you are staying overnight at the beginning or end of a safari, or a bit longer to explore the local area.
Directions: Rivertrees Country Inn is half an hour's drive from Arusha and 20 minutes' drive from Kilimanjaro International Airport.
Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer
Owner: Privately owned.
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Half Board
Food quality: Although we did not eat at Rivertrees during our recent visit (May 2011) the new manager explained that breakfast is served from 6.30am to 9.30am. As well as a selection of continental options you can order a cooked breakfast, including pancakes.
Dinner, served 7.30–10.30pm, is usually a four–five-course meal focusing on international-style food with an African influence. They also have a new pizza oven which is proving popular.
Dining can take place in a variety of locations around the lodge – both indoor and outdoor, depending on the weather. With the vast vegetable patch we saw on our last visit we'd expect the food here to be very fresh and well prepared.
Dining style: Individual Tables
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Drinks included: No.
Further dining info: Yes
Attitude towards children: Children are generally welcome at Rivertrees
Property’s age restrictions: Young children are not allowed in the River House.
Special activities & services: A member of staff will look after children whilst parents are having dinner if requested in advance. Please note that these are not professionally trained childminders. There is also the swimming pool which is popular with children, although there is no lifeguard so they must always be supervised.
Equipment: Baby cots and highchairs are available.
Generally recommended for children: Yes
Notes: Children under three years old are accommodated free, if sharing with adults.
Power supply: Mains Electricity
Communications: There are no phones in the rooms, but it is possible to use the office phone at an extra charge. There are plans to install phones for internal calls in the River House. Free WiFi is available in the central areas. Free internet available from the main office.
TV & radio: There is a satellite TV in the main lounge and in the River House.
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: Yes
Medical care: There is a hospital nearby in Arusha.
Dangerous animals: Low 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.
Money: No exchange is possible at Rivertrees, but there are banks in Arusha. Safe deposit boxes are available in all the rooms.
Accepted payment on location: Visa and MasterCard are accepted with a 5% surcharge, but not travellers' cheques. Rivertrees also accept cash in US dollars, euros and pounds sterling.