Lemala Ngorongoro: Our full report
Lemala Ngorongoro Tented Camp is located within the Ngorongoro Conservation Area on the quiet, eastern side ...... of the crater rim, a short drive past the Lemala Gate. Set in a grove of red-thorn acacia trees, the camp has more of a bush feel than many camps in this area of Tanzania, with plenty of birdlife and frequent visits by buffalo and elephant at night. Although Lemala doesn't have direct views over the crater, it does have views – mist and clouds permitting – through the forests in the opposite direction.
Lemala Ngorongoro is situated close to the ‘Sopa’ descent road (closer, in fact, than the Sopa Lodge after which the road is named). This means guests can be among the first visitors to the crater floor in the morning.
Nine comfortable tents stretch out to the east of Lemala’s lounge and mess tent. All are en suite and are decorated in a similar style. Dark leather-covered beds have neutral white bedspreads and the tents are brightened up with splashes of red – in the cushions, throws and curtains – and light grey sofas at the foot of the beds are a cosy bonus.
While each tent can be equipped with either twin beds or a double, it is normally the tents closest to and furthest from the mess tent that have king-size beds, while the others are set up as twins.
In addition, each tent has a small writing desk with a reading lamp, a leather director’s chair, and a couple of leather stands for luggage storage. On our most recent visit, in June 2017, the tent also had a couple of wildlife magazines.
A canvas screen separates the bedroom area from the bathroom, behind which is a spacious area with a table and a mirror, a storage unit for clothes, and a free-standing washstand with a brass basin. A flush toilet and shower are in separate cubicles.
Hot water for the basin and the shower is provided on request, but this doesn’t take long; we had hot showers within 15 minutes of asking. Snug bathrobes and fluffy white towels are provided (as are hot water bottles, which are tucked into your bed while you're at dinner).
The wooden floors in the tents help to keep out the damp and cold and every tent has a gas heater that runs until 11.00pm; both are very welcome as the nights here, high up on the Ngorongoro Crater rim, are usually chilly. The tents benefit from 24-hour solar lighting, but there are no sockets for battery-charging; guests need to use the power points in the lounge tent.
Lemala Ngorongoro has a spacious, if rather dark mess tent, with a large dining table at one end that can seat up to 26 people. At the other end, the lounge area is floored with canvas and covered with a selection of grass mats and Persian-style rugs. The décor and furnishing here reflects that in the bedrooms: red highlights complement dark leather and light grey sofas. These are arranged around a large wooden coffee table, and cowhide-covered chests provide additional seating or tables. Striking animal portraits hang on the draped walls and a gas heater in the corner wards off the highland chill. A small library features books, magazines and a bao board (traditional board game) to keep guests entertained.
Between the two sections of the tent is an antique cabinet where drinks are available on a 'help yourself' basis (although you’ll pay extra for those on the top shelf). This main tent is also where you will find a multi-charging point and is the only part of the camp with WiFi.
Outside the mess tent, a campfire surrounded by directors’ chairs is 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.
The focus of most visits is the drives down into the Ngorongoro Crater. However, there's good walking nearby and a number of Maasai villages welcome visitors. If you want to do some walking here then let us know when you book your trip. We need to arrange for you to be escorted by a park ranger and you may also need a local Maasai guide.
Lemala Ngorongoro has very easy access to the crater floor; it's close to the 'Sopa' descent road on the eastern side of the crater and is actually inside the park gate. This makes it very convenient for getting into the crater as early as possible. While it lacks views of the crater floor, it’s a good spot to go walking amongst the forests and the hills of the crater rim, or to visit a Maasai village.
- Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania
- Ideal length of stay
- 2 to 3 nights
- Most visitors will be driven to Lemala Ngorongoro in their own private 4WD. The nearest reliable airstrip is Manyara Airstrip, which is two hours’ drive away. There is a small airstrip on the crater rim but frequent thick cloud cover means it is not often used and cannot be relied upon.
- Accessible by
Food & drink
- Usual board basis
- Full Board
- Food quality
- At breakfast a choice of cereals, yoghurts and breads are laid out, while eggs, bacon and sausages are cooked to order by Lemala’s chef.
For lunch expect light, vegetarian dishes, quiches and the like.
Our dinner consisted of steak with a pepper sauce and a selection of fresh vegetables – all very enjoyable – followed by a chocolate tart and good coffee.
The team also organises barbecues when there are large groups or the camp is full, featuring the likes of sausages, beef steaks and lamb and pork chops, accompanied by salads and roast potatoes. These evenings can be very sociable gatherings.
- Solo Travel
- Located in the fantastic Ngorongoro Crater, Lemala Ngorongoro Tented Camp is an excellent choice for solo travel. Wildlife safaris reveal a large density of game, including very relaxed predators, and the low single supplement makes the camp affordable for single travellers.
- See ideas for Solo Travel
- Lemala Ngorongo offers a good value base for honeymooners at the Crater. Whilst not overly luxurious the tents are very comfortable and have everything that you need. The friendly and personalised service will ensure that your have an enjoyable and memorable stay.
- See ideas for Honeymoons
- Walking safaris
- Lemala Ngorongoro Tented Camp is in a pretty, forested part of the Ngorongoro Crater rim and is a lovely place for walking in Tanzania. Such walks can be long or short, taking you through rolling hills with the option of visiting Maasai villages on the way.
- See ideas for Walking safaris
- Wildlife safaris
- As Lemala Ngorongoro is inside the park gate to the Ngorongoro Crater, you can be among the first visitors of the day on the crater floor – one of Africa's greatest wildlife sanctuaries and a superb location for a wildlife safari in Tanzania.
- See ideas for Wildlife safaris
- Whilst staying at Lemala Ngorongoro it is possible to organise walks in the Crater highlands, whether around the Crater rim, or to Olmoti or Empakaai Crater, these walks will be sure to offer some spectacular scenery.
- See ideas for Walking
- Attitude towards children
- Children are welcome.
- Property’s age restrictions
- The camp recommends children should be aged over three.
- Special activities & services
- There are staff trained in childcare who can watch over young children. There are some activities such as nature walks around camp and bow and arrow making and a laptop can be provided to watch films in camp.
- Generally recommended for children
- We don't recommend Lemala Ngorongoro for young children, particularly those under eight. It is not fenced, and dangerous big game walks freely through the camp. Having said that, children who do come here are welcomed and staff do their best to make their stay as enjoyable as possible.
- Children must be kept under constant adult supervision.
Our travellers’ wildlife sightings from Lemala Ngorongoro
Since mid-2018, many of our travellers who stayed at Lemala Ngorongoro have kindly recorded their wildlife sightings and shared them with us. The results are below. Click an animal to see more, and here to see more on our methodology.
- Power supply notes
- There is a back-up generator and batteries can be charged in the lounge tent.
- There is cellphone reception and WiFi in the mess tent.
- TV & radio
- TV is available in the staff area and guests are welcome to join the staff for big sports matches.
- Water supply
- Transported in
- Water supply notes
- There are flush toilets in the tents. Water is supplied in a 30-litre reservoir. Guests need to request hot water for washing and showering a few minutes in advance.
Health & safety
- Malarial protection recommended
- Medical care
- There is a doctor at Sopa Lodge, 5km away. The nearest hospital is in Karatu about an hour's drive away.
- Dangerous animals
- High Risk
- Security measures
- Maasai guards will 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
- Numerous fire extinguishers are positioned around the camp
Guided walking safari
- Disabled access
- On Request
- Laundry facilities
- Laundry is included, washed by hand and dried in the sun. Please note that underwear is not included; washing powder can be found in the tents for guests to do this themselves.
- There is no facility for exchanging money. Wooden lock-up boxes are provided 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.
Other lodges in Ngorongoro Crater
Alternative places to stay in this same area.