Bougainvillea Safari Lodge: Our full report
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 within landscaped gardens, each with its own veranda. 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 spacious inside. Although it is in the middle of Karatu, Bougainvillea is set off the main road, so you do not notice noise from the town.
The bungalows are simply and comfortably furnished – but do look a little dated. Inside, you’ll find a four-poster bed, draped in a mosquito net, in a double or twin configuration, a small writing desk, wardrobe, mini fridge and a pair of wicker chairs for relaxing. Open stone fireplaces can be lit on request and are perfect for colder evenings.
All the bungalows have an en-suite bathroom with a hot water shower and a flush toilet. In keeping with the style of the bedrooms, they are spacious, simple and clean. Towels and basic complimentary toiletries are provided.
There are two en-suite family rooms; each consisting of two interconnecting rooms.
Inside the main building you’ll find the reception, a small but well-stocked curio shop, bar, dining room and conference room (which can double as a second dining room). They have kept the décor to a minimum, preferring to show off the 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.
The bar and dining area, located through a white-painted archway, can feel a bit dark, but the tables and chairs are well spaced out, and it is a good spot for socialising. There is a shaded terrace overlooking the gardens, so you can enjoy your meals outside.
In the middle of the garden is a sparkling blue swimming pool, set among manicured lawns and brightly coloured flowers, with 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. The lodge is convenient for visiting both Lake Manyara and the Ngorongoro Crater.
On previous visits we have noted that Bougainvillea Safari 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.
Country manager: Tanzania
- Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania
- Ideal length of stay
- We recommended a two-night stay
- Bougainvillea Safari Lodge is 300m off the main road that runs through Karatu, which is about a three-hour drive from Arusha. Alternatively, it is a 45-minute drive from Lake Manyara Airstrip
- Accessible by
Food & drink
- Usual board basis
- Full Board
- Food quality
- We didn't have time to sample the food during our visit to Bougainvillea in February 2018, but we understand that breakfast is a buffet-style meal, with hot and cold options, typically served between 7am-9am in the dining room.
Lunch is also usually a buffet and is served from 1pm. When we visited, we could see that the lunch buffet was very busy, and there looked to be a good choice of hot and cold dishes including a selection of salads, pastas, meat stews and rice.
If you are planning to leave early or going out for a full-day wildlife drive, the lodge can arrange a picnic breakfast and/or lunch.
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!
- Bougainvillea Safari Lodge can arrange guided and self-guided walks in Tanzania, 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. Currently there's no extra cost for this, although tipping is appreciated.
- See ideas for Walking
- 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.
- The lodge does not have any has highchairs or cots.
- Generally recommended for children
- We would recommend Bougainvillea for children. As well as the pool, there are two family rooms and a cheaper nightly rate for children, with under-fives staying free.
- Children should be under parental supervision at all times.
- 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.
- 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
- Water supply notes
- One bottle of drinking water is provided per person per day.
Health & safety
- Malarial protection recommended
- 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
- There are guards on duty 24 hours a day behind the lodge's large gates.
- Fire safety
- There are fire extinguishers dotted around the lodge.
Guided walking safari
- Disabled access
- On Request
- Laundry facilities
- There is a full laundry service available at an extra cost of around US$1-2 per item.
- 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.
Room types at Bougainvillea Safari Lodge
Bougainvillea's bungalows are spaced out around well-kept gardens. They are spacious and comfortable, with a very large bedroom inside. There is plenty of room in here to relax – with wicker chairs set around an exposed stone fireplace, and a handy fridge/mini-bar nearby. This open fire is a feature of all of the bungalows; it can be lit on request. (Very valuable as it can sometimes get very cold here!)
The beds are all four-poster, king-size beds, covered with mosquito nets. In keeping with the rest of the lodge, the rooms are light, spacious and airy. The walls are white, keeping the room fairly bright, whilst the ceilings have a darker, traditional, wooden design - adding an individual touch.
Each room also has its own veranda looking out onto the gardens. All of the rooms also have torches which should be used at night when walking from your room through the gardens to the dining room / bar area.
There are two family rooms - each consists of two interconnecting rooms, which are decorated in the same way as the other rooms. Each room is fundamentally the same as the others at the lodge and is still ensuite – but has the advantage of interconnecting doors for families.
All of the rooms are have an en suite bathroom. In keeping with the style of the bedrooms, they are spacious, simple and well presented. The bathrooms are clean, have a hot water shower and a flush toilet. There are a few complimentary toiletries, and clean towels are provided.
Other lodges in Ngorongoro Crater
Alternative places to stay in this same area.