Lemala Camp is situated on the eastern side of the Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania ...
Lemala Ngorongoro: Our full report
Lemala Ngorongoro is located on the quieter eastern side of the Ngorongoro Crater rim, a short drive past the Lemala Gate, making it very convenient for getting into the Crater as early as possible. The camp is set back from the crater rim, in a grove of red thorn acacia trees and has
more of a bush feel than many camps in the area. The camp has a peaceful location, plenty of birdlife, and frequent visits by buffalo and elephant at night. Although the camp doesn't have direct views over the crater itself, it does have views – mist and clouds permitting – through the forests in the opposite direction.
Lemala Ngorongoro has nine comfortable tents located in a grove of umbrella thorn acacia trees. All are en-suite and are decorated in a similar style. They stretch out to the east of the lounge and mess tent and while each can be equipped with either two twin beds or one double bed, it is normally the closest and furthest tents, #1 and #9, which have the king-size beds, while #7 and #8 are set up as twins. The beds are covered with neutral white bedspreads brightened-up with a couple of colourful scatter cushions. At the end of each bed are matching brightly coloured kikois, some in orange or red, adding a splash of colour to the tent.
In a corner of each tent at Lemala Ngorongoro is a small writing desk with a reading lamp; our tent also had a couple of wildlife magazines to browse through. A leather director's chair stands in front of the desk. There are also two wooden chests which can be used for luggage storage. On the far side of each tent is a metal and canvas shelving and hanging unit for storing clothes.
A canvas screen separates the bedroom area from the bathroom, behind which is a spacious area with a table and a mirror. Here is a freestanding washstand with a brass basin on top, next to which soft, fluffy white towels are stored. The flush toilet and the shower are in two separate cubicles, each leading off the changing area.
Hot water for the basin, as well as the shower, needs to be requested a few minutes in advance. The Lemala team will then heat water over the fire, and fill your 30-litre reservoir: we had hot showers within 15 minutes of asking. Snug bath robes are provided (as are hot water bottles, which are tucked into your bed while you're at dinner).
Throughout the tent, a wooden floor has been laid on top of the canvas floor. This helps to keep the damp and cold out. Each tent at Lemala Ngorongoro has a gas heater, which is very welcome as the nights here, high up on the Ngorongoro Crater rim, are usually chilly. The heaters are turned off externally by the staff at 11pm. Leather couches at the foot of the beds add a luxurious touch, and there's 24-hour solar lighting, but there are no sockets for battery-charging - guests use the power points in the lounge tent.
The camp has a spacious, if rather dark mess tent, with a large dining table which can be extended to seat up to 16 people. At the other end of the mess tent is the lounge area, floored with canvas and covered with a selection of grass mats and Persian-style rugs. An antique cabinet stores the drinks, which are normally included here –on a 'help yourself' basis, with drinks on the top shelf being the 'payable' options. On the canvas walls hang a few black and white photographs in rustic wooden frames, and in the corner is a gas heater to ward off the highland chill.
This lounge area is dominated by two comfortable sofas, arranged around a large wooden coffee table. This is laden with books, magazines and a bao board to keep guests entertained. Outside the mess tent, the campfire is surrounded by director's chairs – and it's a popular place for guests to meet for pre-dinner drinks.
Activities at Lemala Ngorongoro depend on how you visit it. Most of our visitors will stay at Lemala Ngorongoro with their own private safari guide and 4WD; the camp doesn't have any of its own resident guides, but it is possible to fly-in, and have a guide waiting for you here.
While here, the focus of most visits is the drives down into the Ngorongoro Crater. However, there's good walking nearby, and a number of local villages that welcome visitors. If you want to do some walking here then let us know when you book your trip, as we have to arrange for you to be escorted by a park ranger, and you may also need a local Masaai guide.
Our viewLemala Ngorongoro has very easy access to the crater floor; it's close to the 'Sopa' descent road on the eastern side of the crater (in fact closer to it than the Sopa Lodge after which the road is named – and it's actually inside the park gate!) It is also a good spot to do some walking amongst the forests and the hills of the crater rim, or to visit a local Masaai village.
Ideal length of stay: 2 to 3 nights
Directions: Most visitors will be driven to Lemala Ngorongoro in their own private 4WD. The nearest reliable airstrip is Manyara Airstrip, which is 2 hours drive away. There is a small airstrip on the Crater Rim, but there's often thick cloud cover here, so this is not often used – and cannot be relied upon.
Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer
Owner: Grumeti Expeditions
Staff: There are 17 staff, managed by Godwin Michael.
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: For lunch, light, vegetarian dishes, quiches and the like, are common.
Our dinner consisted of steak with a pepper sauce with a selection of fresh vegetables – all very tasty – followed by a chocolate tart and good coffee.
They also do barbecues, with salads and roast potatoes and meat from the range – sausages, beef steaks and lamb and pork chops. These evenings can be very sociable affairs.
Breakfast times varied depending on the timings of your activities. A choice of cereals, yoghurts and breads are laid out for you to choose from and eggs and bacon are cooked to order by the chef in Lemala's little tented kitchen next to the mess tent.
Dining style: Group Meals
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Drinks included: House wine, local beer and spirits are included. Other wines, champagne and liqueurs are extra. They keep the payable bottles on the top shelf!
Further dining info: 'Room service' in your tent is available at no additional charge.
Solo Travel: Located in the fantastic Ngorongoro Crater, Lemala is an excellent choice for solo travel. Wildlife safaris reveal a large density of game, including very relaxed predators. The low single supplement makes it affordable even for single travellers.See more ideas for Solo Travel in Tanzania
Walking safaris: Lemala is in a hilly, forested part of the Ngorongoro Crater rim; it's a pretty area which is lovely for walking; when escorted by an armed park ranger. Such walks can be long or short, taking you through the rolling hills of the crater rim, with the option of visiting local Maasai villages on the way.See more ideas for Walking safaris in Tanzania
Wildlife safaris: Lemala Luxury Camp is actually inside the park gate to the Ngorongoro Crater itself, and so you can be one if the first visitors of the day onto the crater floor – one of Africa's greatest wildlife sanctuaries.See more ideas for Wildlife safaris in Tanzania
Attitude towards children: Lemala Ngorongoro isn't really a very child-friendly camp, and whilst older children are accepted here – the camp makes no special provisions for them.
Property’s age restrictions: No children under 6 years are accepted
Special activities & services: None
Generally recommended for children: Not recommended for children under 5
Notes: We don't recommend Lemala Camp for young children; it's not set up for them, it's not fenced and dangerous big game walks freely through the camp.
Power supply: Solar Power
Power supply notes: There is a backup generator and battery-charging can be done in the lounge tent.
Communications: There is mobile phone reception and wifi in the mess and common areas.
TV & radio: TV is available in the staff area – and guests are welcome to join the staff.
Water supply: Transported in
Water supply notes: Unlimited bottled drinking water is supplied.
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: Yes
Medical care: There is a doctor at Sopa Lodge, 5km away. Thhe nearest hospital is in Karatu about an hour's drive away.
Dangerous animals: High Risk
Security measures: There are Maasai guards to escort you to and from your tent after dark and they patrol the camp overnight. Big game animals wander through Lemala Ngorongoro, night and day.
Fire safety: There are numerous fire extinguishers around the camp.
Disabled access: On Request
Laundry facilities: Laundry is included, washed by hand and dried in the sun.
Money: There is no facility for exchanging money. Wooden lock-up boxes are available in each tent but you should give any valuables to the manager for safe keeping.
Accepted payment on location: No credit cards are accepted. Cash is accepted in US dollars, euros and Tanzanian Shillings.