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Ngorongoro Serena Safari Lodge
Ngorongoro Serena Safari Lodge
Ngorongoro Serena Safari Lodge

Ngorongoro Serena Safari Lodge


3°12’34.8"S 35°28’42.5"E

Ngorongoro Serena Safari Lodge: Our full report

The Ngorongoro Serena Safari Lodge is a 75-room hotel, built in 1996, with a truly outstanding location: ...

... it's built into the western rim of Tanzania's UNESCO-listed Ngorongoro Crater. The lodge is usually used as a base for visits into the crater, and has views of the magnificent caldera from all the bedrooms and most of the public areas.

The lodge incorporates local river stone and wood, but it is predominately made from concrete with dense green creepers clinging to its outside walls. Despite its size the Ngorongoro Serena blends surprisingly well with its surroundings.

The 75 bedrooms at the Ngorongoro Serena are split in to two wings, the left wing with rooms one to 32, and the right wing with rooms 33 to 75. The rooms are fairly small and have: wooden floors, double, twin or triple beds, a desk with a chair and a mirror. Prehistoric cave murals painted on the walls add a bit of character to the otherwise fairly plain rooms. Their best feature is undoubtedly the French doors, which open out to a small balcony providing stunning views of the crater.

There is central heating in all of the rooms and main areas at this Ngorongoro lodge – which is a great comfort on the crater rim. It is often very cold here due to its altitude (2,326m/7,633 feet) and frequent blanketing of damp mist and so the radiators help create a cozy atmosphere. For particularly cold nights hot water bottles are provided.

Between the bedroom and the bathroom, each room at the Ngorongoro Serena Lodge has a small lobby area with a built-in cupboard and a luggage rack. The bathrooms are small but lighter following the recent refurbishment, with double basins below a large mirror, toilet and large walk-in shower. Hairdryers and branded toiletries are also provided. Eight sets of rooms are interconnected, which are convenient for families.

In addition to the standard rooms, there is one suit which is substantially larger and comes with a TV and a spacious bathtub with a shower.

The bedrooms are linked to the main areas of this Serena lodge by wide walkways built of wood and polished stone. There is a large restaurant upstairs, a bar, a TV area, decked outside seating areas and a curio shop. Stone fireplaces have been built into some of these areas – there is one in the reception area and in the dining room – which are welcome in the evenings when it gets cool.

The busy reception area at the Ngorongoro Serena Safari Lodge has white painted walls, a high ceiling and polished wood floors. High-backed, dark wood-and-leather benches are decorated with animals, and spears hang on the walls. Off the main reception area is a small curio shop that stocks a few toiletries, as well as a good range of souvenirs. Just through the reception, tucked into a corner, there are three computers that are connected to the internet and can be used (at an extra cost).

The TV area, bar and restaurant at the Ngorongoro Serena all link into each other and share a burnt orange, olive green and burgundy colour scheme.

The bar has dark polished-wood panelling and a polished green stone floor. Wicker lights hang from iron light fittings and a stone fireplace warms the room from under a circular brass chimney flue. Brightly-striped wooden chairs are placed around small, wooden tables; high-backed leather chairs stand around the bar. Most evenings there is entertainment in the bar such as Maasai dancers or an acrobatic show. There is a 'wildlife seen today' book that allows guests to share their experiences with others. There is also a self-service tea-and-coffee stand tucked into a corner of the bar. These drinks are available all day and are generally accompanied by a few biscuits and cakes at teatime.

Outside the bar, the Ngorongoro Serena Lodge has a decked terrace with magnificent views over the crater – on warm evenings this is a good spot to sit with a drink and take in the stunning scenery.

The Ngorongoro Serena's restaurant is situated above the bar and features animal-stenciled walls, polished cement floors, two fireplaces and stunning views from the panoramic windows.

Most guests staying at the Serena Safari Lodge will arrive with their own vehicle and guide. The lodge also offer a small selection of additional activities, such as a bush breakfast or lunch, although these need to have a minimum of twelve people in order to operate. A two-hour nature walk normally takes place in the afternoon and a forest circle hike, escorted by a park ranger, takes about three hours. There is an additional cost for all of these activities, on our most recent visit in October 2018 a two hour walk cost $40 per person.


Our view

The Ngorongoro Serena Safari Lodge doesn't pretend to be anything other than a large hotel. Its design lacks personality and it feels a bit dated. That said it has benefitted from a soft refurbishment and it is comfortable, functional, warm. It is also one of only a handful of lodges right on the edge of Ngorongoro Crater. So whilst its size means it won't be everyone's first choice, its location and affordability will tempt many to stay here.

Jessica Plumb

Jessica Plumb

Country manager: Tanzania

Geographics

Location
Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania
Ideal length of stay
Stay here for at least two nights so that you can spend a full day on safari in the Ngorongoro Crater.
Directions
Ngorongoro Serena Safari Lodge is about a four-hour drive from Arusha, or a two-hour road transfer from Manyara airstrip. From the hotel it is only a 30-minute drive to the crater descent road.
Accessible by
Fly-and-Transfer

Food & drink

Usual board basis
Full Board
Food quality
On a recent visit to Ngorongoro Serena Lodge in 2018 we did not stay long enough to sample a meal. However, the manager explained to us that guests can usually expect the following:

Breakfast is a buffet with a selection of fresh fruit and fruit juices, cereals, hot porridge as well as a cooked full English breakfast.

Lunch is a hot-and cold-buffet if the lodge is full, or an à la carte menu if it isn't. You can choose from a large selection of food, including salads, cold meat and vegetarian options. The hot-meal choices change daily.

Dinner, as with lunch, is a buffet or à la carte depending on the occupancy. Again, there is quite a large choice here and it will all be served to your table. As with the hot lunches, the dinner menu also changes daily.
Dining style
Individual Tables
Dining locations
Indoor Dining
Further dining info, including room service
Room service is available at no extra cost.
Drinks included
No drinks are included at the Ngorongoro Serena Lodge. The last time we visited, a beer cost roughly US$4 and a bottle of water or soda cost about US$2.50. A glass of wine was US$7 and a bottle of wine ranged from US$24–45.

Special interests

Family holidays
Ngorongoro Serena is a good-value base, and larger international style property for families travelling with children over the age of 5 years.
See ideas for Family holidays

Children

Attitude towards children
Children of all ages are welcome at Ngorongoro Serena Safari Lodge.
Property’s age restrictions
Children below five are not allowed to stay at Serena Safari Lodge.
Special activities & services
The lodge can arrange babysitters at a cost of around US$5 for the evening, although parents should note that the carers don’t have professional childcare qualifications.
Equipment
Cots and highchairs are available and board games and books can be found in the main area.
Generally recommended for children
We would recommend the Ngorongoro Serena Lodge for families.
Notes
Parents should note that game does come into the lodge grounds, which is not enclosed, and the walkways between the rooms and the main areas are raised so children could fall. We advise that children should be supervised at all times.

Our travellers’ wildlife sightings from Ngorongoro Serena

Since mid-2018, many of our travellers who stayed at Ngorongoro Serena Safari Lodge 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.

Black Rhino

100% success

Elephant

100% success

Hippo

100% success

Lion

100% success

Spotted Hyena

100% success

Wildebeest

100% success

Zebra

100% success

Buffalo

50% success

Aardvark

0% success

Eland

0% success

Leopard

0% success

Pangolin

0% success

Striped Hyena

0% success

Wild dog

0% success

Communications

Power supply notes
There is 24 hour power supply and guests can charge batteries in their rooms.
Communications
There are telephones in all of the bedrooms and two computers linked to the internet that guests can use. Fifteen minutes in the business centre usually costs US$2. Free Wi-Fi is available in the bedrooms as well as the main areas, however the signal is best in the main areas.
TV & radio
There is a TV in the hotel lounge.
Water supply
Transported in
Water supply notes
Two bottles of drinking water are provided to each room daily.

Health & safety

Malarial protection recommended
Yes
Medical care
There is a first-aid kit at the lodge and a resident doctor is available for guests. There is also a clinic less than 9Km away.
Dangerous animals
High Risk
Security measures
There is 24-hour security with four guards on duty at any one time.
Fire safety
There are fire extinguishers in all the rooms and main areas and fire hoses in each block.

Activities

  • 4WD Safari

    4WD Safari

  • Birdwatching

    Birdwatching

  • Cultural excursion

    Cultural excursion

  • Guided walking safari

    Guided walking safari

Extras

Disabled access
On Request
Laundry facilities
Laundry is not included at Ngorongoro Serena Lodge. Items cost roughly between US$1–5. The lodge also offers an express service at no extra cost – if you hand your laundry to reception in the morning, you will get it back the same evening.
Money
The lodge will normally exchange US dollars, British pounds, euros and Tanzanian shillings. There is a safe in each of the rooms.
There is a safe in each of the rooms.
Accepted payment on location
Ngorongoro Serena accepts Visa, Maestro, American Express and MasterCard normally at no extra cost.

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