Ngorongoro Farmhouse is a pretty haven, conveniently close to the Ngorogoro Crater.
Ngorongoro Farmhouse Lodge: Our full report
The Ngorongoro Farmhouse Lodge is a lovely lodge just outside of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. Set in 750 acres of private farmland, it is comfortable, well laid out and has some lovely views across the farm and across to Oldeani Volcano. The Farmhouse Lodge opened in 2003, and since then has been offering good value accommodation and is a good base for visiting both the Ngorongoro Crater and Lake Manyara National Park.
The lodge is still a fully functional farm – they grow their own wheat and the organic garden produces a lot of the vegetables used in the food. The farm is also home to cows, pigs and sheep, and the farm roasts and grinds their own coffee.
Ngorongoro Farmhouse Lodge, as the name suggests, very much feels like a farmhouse - as you arrive at the lodge, you are greeted with large, open grassy lawns that stretch across to the main areas. Behind is a small forest and rows of colourful flowers.
Ngorongoro Farmhouse Lodge has 52 rooms (big by our usual standards), but as the rooms are so spread out, and trees camouflage many, it doesn’t seem like there are as many rooms as there really are. The downside is that it can be a very long walk between many of the rooms and the main area.
The central areas at Ngorongoro Farmhouse Lodge are spacious, clean and comfortable. The restaurant and lounge area is situated inside a large, single-storey farmhouse-style building with white-washed walls and a thatched roof. Inside, red-tiled floors, wrought-iron chandeliers and bare brick fireplaces complete the effect - it feels like an old colonial farm.
The majority of the inside space is set out for dining, with individual tables varying in size, though corners with comfortable white sofas act as lounge areas, and there's a coffee table topped with wildlife and anthropological books.
The bar is made with painted white brick and a polished wood top. A great place to enjoy a drink is on the deck outside. A warming fire is lit each night, which due to the cool air at the base of the Crater Highlands is very welcome. From the deck you can see right out across the farm and watch the sunset.
Ngorongoro Farmhouse also has its own coffee bar where guests can go for cappuccinos and lattes made from locally grown coffee. The coffee is also roasted and ground on site, which creates a wonderfully rich coffee aroma in the bar.
During the day, the large 3m-deep swimming pool is a welcome place to relax and swim, with sunloungers and plenty of shade. Children will also enjoy the volleyball and croquet that are often set up on the lawns.
Ngorongoro Farmhouse Lodge also has an extensive and well-stocked gift shop selling souvenirs. There are carvings, jewellery, clothes, maps and art for sale.
The cottages are scattered amongst pretty gardens and woodland surrounded by colourful flowerbeds. A long stone pathway leads back to the main areas in front of the rooms; the back of the rooms face onto farmland. There are three suites and forty-nine standard rooms (six of which are interconnecting family rooms). They are all decorated and designed in the same way – with high ‘barn style’ wooden beamed ceilings, polished concrete floors and a central brick fireplace.
Each bedroom has a wooden four-poster bed, covered by a white mosquito net, a couple of armchairs and a coffee table. The term ‘coffee table’ is taken quite literally here as the top of the carved wooden table actually contains real coffee beans! The rooms are neat and spacious but they lack decoration and colour and feel rather empty as a result. There seems little point to upgrade to one of the suites, as the main difference between them is the size of the room, which due to the lack of decoration makes the suites feel even sparser. Read more about the cottages here.
The bathrooms are decorated with white tiled walls and a red tilled floor. There’s a walk in shower, flush toilet and ceramic sink. The bathroom is clean and bright but functional rather than stylish.
Activities mainly focus on visits of Lake Manyara National Park or the Ngorongoro Crater, which is usually done with your own private driver/guide. If you decide to spend a morning or an afternoon at the lodge, then you can go on a nature walk around the farm. Or indulge in a massage at the spa which costs $50 for an hour.
Our viewNgorongoro Farmhouse has a rustic, countryside feel, which is very appealing. It is a shame that the interiors do not live up to the promise of the exterior, but the lodge is still a welcoming and friendly spot to base yourself to trips to the crater.
Ideal length of stay: Spend two nights at Ngorongoro Farmhouse Lodge if you want to have a full day exploring the floor of the Ngorongoro Crater. However, if you want to use this lodge as a base to explore Lake Manyara National Park as well, then spend at least three nights here.
Directions: Ngorongoro Farmhouse Lodge is situated just 5kms from the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, near to the small town of Karatu. It takes approximately three hours to drive here from Arusha. Alternatively, fly to Manyara airstrip and then drive for 45 minutes to reach the lodge.
Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer
Owner: Tanganyika Wilderness Camps
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: When we were last at the Ngorongoro Farmhouse in early 2015 we did not get a chance to sample the food. However, the manager explained in great detail what the lodge offered.
This includes flexible timings around guests activities, in door and outdoor dining, and fresh produce grown on the farm. We also saw the team setting up the buffet for lunch and the food looked very tasty.
Breakfast usually consists of fresh fruit, cereal, yogurt and also a cooked breakfast. You can order the cooked breakfast with eggs cooked as you like them. You can also try some of the Arabica coffee which is grown on site.
For lunch you will probably want to head out on an all day safari and not have to return to the lodge. If this is the case, Ngorongoro Farmhouse Lodge can prepare a packed lunch for you, which usually consists of a sandwich and a few nibbly things such as cake, peanuts, hard boiled eggs or maybe barbequed chicken.
If you do decide to return to the lodge for lunch, you can expect either a buffet or a set four-course meal depending on the day's menu.
Dinner is then a slightly more formal affair – with a set menu of four courses. This is made mostly from fresh produce prepared on the farm. To accompany dinner is a very extensive wine list, with wines mainly from South Africa.
Dining style: Individual Tables
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included
Drinks included: Drinks are not included at the Ngorongoro Farmhouse Lodge. A beer is around $5, a soft drink / soda is $1, whilst a glass of wine is $5.
Further dining info: Ngorongoro Farmhouse Lodge will happily do room service – there are phones in the rooms.
Family holidays: Ngorongoro Farmhouse is a good-value base without age restrictions for Tanzania family holidays - and as it’s a working farm its quite fun! There are extensive lawns, plenty of animals, a pool, highchairs and games like volleyball!See more ideas for Family holidays in Tanzania
Attitude towards children: Children are welcome at Ngorongoro Farmhouse Lodge.
Property’s age restrictions: There are no age restrictions at Ngorongoro Farmhouse Lodge.
Special activities & services: Ngorongoro Farmhouse Lodge has games such as crocket on the lawns and volleyball. They can also offer babysitting, though guests should be aware that the child-minder will come from the house keeping team, and will not have special training in this area.
Equipment: They have cots and high chairs available.
Generally recommended for children: Yes
Notes: When we last visited Ngorongoro Farmhouse Lodge, we felt that it was a really welcoming lodge that had a number of facilities geared towards families. This includes all of the games, cots and even high chairs which were designed to look like giraffes!
Power supply: Generator
Power supply notes: There is 24 hour electricity at Ngorongoro Farmhouse Lodge and there are plugs in all of the rooms so that guests can charge their devices.
Communications: Ngorongoro Farmhouse Lodge has internet which is available to guests. This costs $5 for 30 minutes. There is intermittent mobile phone reception around the lodge, and you can also phone internationally from your room which will be charged to your tab.
TV & radio: The lodge has a TV in the conference room.
Water supply: Borehole
Water supply notes: Bottled drinking water is supplied.
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: Yes
Medical care: There is a first aid kit in reception and the nearest hospital is in nearby Karatu.
Dangerous animals: Moderate Risk
Security measures: Ngorongoro Farmhouse Lodge has Askaris on duty 24/7.
Fire safety: There are fire extinguishers dotted around the lodge and in all of the rooms - members of the staff have been trained how to use them.
Disabled access: On Request
Laundry facilities: All items of clothes can be washed here – please note that there is an additional cost for this.
Money: Ngorongoro Farmhouse Lodge cannot offer any kind of currency exchange.
Accepted payment on location: When you settle your tab at Ngorongoro Farmhouse Lodge, you can pay using US dollars, pounds sterling, Tanzanian shillings and Euros cash. You can also use Visa and Mastercard, although there is a 5% charge for this.