Bougainvillea Safari Lodge

Bougainvillea Safari Lodge: Our full report

32 rooms.
Traveller's rating
Good (90%) From 8 reviews
Best for 8+
All year

Bougainvillea Safari Lodge was created by a local farmer and a chef who saw potential for a simple and friendly guesthouse in Karatu. They approached the government for a loan and their application was approved. Soon after this 32-room lodge, close to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, was built. The lodge has strong community links and some of the profits go towards helping the local community. All of the staff are originally from the Ethiopian Highlands (they belong to the Iraqw tribe), but have been living in Karatu for some time. When we last visited, it was very clear that the staff are very proud of the lodge and the level of community involvement.

Bougainvillea Safari Lodge has 32 stone bungalows set in landscaped gardens linked by hedged walkways. The bungalows have been simply, but comfortably furnished. All have their own veranda, where you can sit and enjoy the peace and quiet of the gardens. For a town property, we were impressed with the obvious thought that has been given to the layout of this lodge. The bungalows aren't too close together and are very spacious inside.

The main building at Bougainvillea is made from stone, wood and with terracotta floor tiles. The reception, small but well-stocked curio shop, bar, dining room and conference room (which can double as a second dining room when the lodge is busy) is all contained within the main building. They have kept the décor to a minimum, preferring instead to show off exposed stone walls and fireplaces and using the ceiling as the main showpiece – it's covered in carved bamboo in an eye-catching, traditional design. There are plenty of leopard print wicker chairs and wooden tables in the bar area.

If you make your way through a white-painted archway, you come to the dining area. Again, this is simply decorated, with blue-checked tablecloths. It can feel a bit dark, but the tables and chairs are well spaced out. As you make your way outside, there is a shaded terrace overlooking the gardens so you can enjoy your meals outside, if you prefer.

In the middle of the garden is a sparkling blue swimming pool, set among manicured lawns and brightly coloured flowers. There is also a smaller pool for young children. A small massage room in the pool area offers hour-long massages for $40. This might be welcome after driving on some of the bumpy roads in the local area!

As the lodge has just one vehicle of its own, the vast majority of guests will travel with their own safari guide and 4WD. This works well as the lodge is incredibly convenient for visiting either Lake Manyara, or the Ngorongoro Crater.

Our view

Although it is in the middle of a busy town, Bougainvillea Safari Lodge is set off the main road – and you do not notice noise from the town. On previous visits we have noted that the lodge is generally very quiet, but it felt slightly hectic when we last visited in February 2018. The bungalows are very simple, perhaps a little tired in places, but comfortable and clean. The gardens are nicely kept and the pool looked incredibly inviting. Whilst it may not be the highlight of your trip, this is a good choice for families and those on a budget.


Location: Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania

Ideal length of stay: We recommended a two-night stay

Directions: Bougainvillea Safari Lodge is 300m off the main road that runs through Karatu, which in turn is about a 3 hour drive from Arusha. Alternatively it is a 45 minuite drive from Lake Manyara airstrip.

Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer

Key personnel

Owner: Jakob Ombay

Food & drink

Usual board basis: Full Board

Food quality: Breakfast at Bougainvillea is a buffet-style meal, typically between 7am-9am, with hot and cold options, laid out in the dining room.

Lunch is also usually a buffet from 1pm. We didn't have time to sample the food here in February 2018, but the lunch buffet was very busy, and there looked to be a good selection of hot and cold dishes including a selection of salads, pastas, meat stews and rice.

If you are planning on leaving early or going out for a full-day game drive a picnic breakfast and/or lunch can be arranged.

Dinner is a set menu served at the table. The menu changes daily and the lodge will happily cater for vegetarians and children on request.

The chef, Reggie, formerly worked at Gibb's Farm. Reggie has brought with him a good reputation and, we hope, good cooking!

Dining style: Individual Tables

Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining

Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included

Drinks included: No drinks are included at Bougainvillea Safari Lodge, but costs are very moderate. A beer costs $3, a glass of wine $4, and soft drinks cost $2.

Further dining info: Yes

Special interests

Walking: Bougainvillea can arrange guided and self-guided walks, lasting up to three hours, around the beautiful coffee farms in the area. They have a guide who can accompany you if you would like to learn about the coffee farms and Karatu and, currently, there’s no extra cost for this.

See more ideas for Walking in Tanzania


Attitude towards children: Children are welcome at Bougainvillea Safari Lodge.

Property’s age restrictions: There are no age restrictions at the lodge.

Special activities & services: Children are welcome to join in with a walk around the coffee plantation, or with a town visit. There is also a small children’s pool.

Equipment: The lodge does not have any has highchairs or cots.

Notes: Children should be under parental supervision at all times.


Power supply: Mains Electricity

Power supply notes: There is 24 hour electricity at Bougainvillea and there are plugs in the rooms for guests to use to charge their electronic devices.

Communications: WiFi is available in the main areas and is free for guests to use. There is an internal telephone in each room for contacting reception.

TV & radio: There is no TV here.

Water supply: Mains

Water supply notes: One bottle of drinking water is provided per person per day.

Health & safety

Malarial protection recommended: Yes

Medical care: The lodge has a first aid kit on site, and there is an American Doctor based on the other side of the road.

Dangerous animals: Low Risk

Security measures: Behind the lodge's large gates, which are manned 24-hours, there are guards on duty day and night.

Fire safety: There are fire extinguishers dotted around the lodge.


Disabled access: On Request

Laundry facilities: Full Laundry Service - Extra Charge of around $1-2 per item.

Money: There is a central safe in the manager’s office and guests are encouraged not to leave any valuables in their rooms. The lodge can provide small currency exchange on request. The lodge prefers guests to pay with cash whenever possible and accepts the following currencies: US dollars, euros, pounds sterling, SA Rand, Tanzanian shillings and Kenyan shillings.

Accepted payment on location: Bougainvillea only accepts Mastercard and Visa credit cards, and charges 3% commission for this.

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