Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge is a large hotel on the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater.
Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge: Our full report
The 98-room Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge is an international-style hotel brilliantly positioned on the eastern edge of Tanzania's UNESCO-listed Ngorongoro Crater with stunning views over the crater.
The central areas of Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge are all within one large glass fronted building, which is shaped as two rondavels adjoined by a central well-lit atrium. These house the cavernous reception area – composed of a broad semi-circular polished dark-wood desk attended by uniformed concierge staff – an internet room and a vast curio shop, which sells a wide variety of souvenirs, from fabrics and guidebooks to wooden carvings large and small.
A short staircase leads to a small sunken lounge, with the entrance to the dining room on one side, and the lounge/bar on the other.
The dining room is dotted with tables and chairs and able to seat around 180 people. The dining chairs are comfortably cushioned and match the blue of the carpet. In the centre of the room is an open fire place to make the room cosy on cooler evenings. Over half of the room is glass-fronted, to make the most of the spectacular views.
The lounge and bar at Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge is exactly the same shape as the dining room, and shares its views through the glass windows. The lounge has a central fireplace, polished wooden floors, a long wooden bar and brown and cream leather sofas clustered around coffee tables. It's spacious and cosy yet, like the rest of the lodge, feels a little dated.
In front of the main building is the swimming pool, which is surrounded by well-manicured lush green grass and wooden sun loungers with a view right out over Ngorongoro Crater. The swimming pool at Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge is the only one on the crater rim, and although it can be bracing, it’s a great addition to the property.
The bedrooms are set in large two-storey rondavels, separate from the main building. There are four bedrooms in each one, two downstairs and two upstairs, each with views overlooking the crater. The rooms are spacious, spotlessly clean and have a large en-suite bathroom. All are semi-circular in shape and entered via a lobby furnished with a cupboard and a writing desk, as well as a minibar that is filled on request. All the bedrooms are carpeted and have two queen-sized double beds, a dressing table, a stool and a hairdryer. There is also central heating, which is very welcome up on the crater rim as it can get very cold at certain times of the year due to the altitude. A glass-enclosed balcony, with two rocking chairs, has stunning views over the crater. Some rooms are interconnecting which are designed for families travelling together.
Although the bedrooms are fairly dated, the bathrooms have been renovated and have cream-coloured wall and floor tiles. There is a single basin on top of a vanity unit with a mirror above, a flush toilet and a spacious walk-in shower. Branded toiletries are also provided.
Most people spend two nights here and the main activities are half-or full-day visits into Ngorongoro Crater. The Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge is close to the very quiet eastern road into the crater and sees less traffic than the more popular road on the western side of the crater. It also means that you start your game drive on the opposite side of the basin and, as a result, you can enjoy a few hours with relatively few other vehicles.
While staying at Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge, travellers might also want to spend a day visiting Empakaai Crater, which is only a 90-minute drive from this side of the crater. With a diameter of only 6km, Empakaai is smaller than Ngorongoro, but equally beautiful. Spend a full day here and you can walk down onto the crater floor to look out for birds and monkeys in the forest, or on a clear day see Lake Natron and Mount Kilimanjaro in the distance.
Our viewFor people looking for something small, intimate and authentic this is not the right place. However, it has a great feeling of space, the staff are very friendly and the views are absolutely magnificent. It has quick access down to the crater floor and it is great for families who have younger kids that would make the most of the pool, as well as those travelling on a bit of a budget.
Ideal length of stay: Stay here for at least two nights so that you can spend a full day on safari in Ngorongoro Crater. If you are able to spend three nights, then you can also spend a full day walking in the nearby and beautiful Empakaai Crater.
Directions: Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge is located on the quiet eastern rim of Ngorongoro Crater, near the lesser-used eastern decent and ascent road. It takes about one hour to drive to the lodge from the Ngorongoro Conservation Area gate and around 90 minutes from Manyara Airstrip.
Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer
Owner: Sopa Lodges
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: When we last visited the Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge in April 2015, we didn't have a chance to sample the food. However, we did have a long chat with the manager about what guests could expect and he described the following:
Breakfast is a varied buffet-style selection of cereals, breads, fruit and yoghurt. There are also a number of juices to choose from, as well as tea and coffee. You can have a cooked breakfast, with bacon, sausage, cooked mushrooms and tomatoes and eggs. The eggs are cooked at your table to your liking.
Many of the guests decide to head into the crater for a full day and so take a packed lunch with them. This consists of a sandwich, a snack such as a samosa or piece of barbequed chicken, a piece of fruit and a muffin or biscuit.
If you decide to stay in the lodge for lunch, then the buffet has a variety of options to cater for different appetites. Snacks such as sandwiches, croque monsieurs and salads are on offer, as well as larger meals such as pasta, stew or curry.
Dinner is a larger three-course meal with a soup starter, a main course – with a choice of chicken, red meat, fish or vegetarian – and a choice of three desserts.
Special dietary requirements can be catered for with advance notice.
Dining style: Individual Tables
Dining locations: Indoor Dining
Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included
Drinks included: Drinks are not included. You can expect to pay approximately US$4 for a beer and about US$27 for a bottle of house wine. Tea and filter coffee are complimentary throughout the day. In the afternoon, complimentary cake and cookies are served at the little coffee shop but specialty coffees, such as cappuccino or espresso, cost extra.
Further dining info: On request.
Attitude towards children: Children of all ages are welcome at Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge.
Property’s age restrictions: There are no age restrictions at Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge.
Special activities & services: A childminder can be arranged through house keeping, but parents should be aware that carers don’t have professional qualifications. There is no cost for this, but a tip would be welcome.
Equipment: Cots and highchairs are available.
Generally recommended for children: We would recommend the Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge for families. There is plenty of space here for children and the pool offers something to keep them occupied when you are not out on safari.
Notes: Parents need to note that game does come into the lodge grounds, which is not enclosed, so children should always be supervised.
Power supply: Generator
Power supply notes: The generator is on 24 hours a day and so guests can charge their batteries at any time.
Communications: There is intermittent mobile reception at Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge, but you can use the phones at reception to call internationally and this costs around US$6 per minute. There’s an internet room with three computers, where you can surf the web for around US$6 per 15 minutes.
TV & radio: There is a television in the upstairs Rhino Room which can be used on request.
Water supply: Borehole
Water supply notes: Two bottles of water are provided a day in each room which should be used to drink and to brush teeth.
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: Yes
Medical care: Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge has a medic (a person trained in first-aid) on site for minor cases. For more serious cases, the nearest hospital is in Karatu a 90-minute drive away.
Dangerous animals: High Risk
Security measures: There are askaris (guards) dotted around the property during the day and night. Guests must be escorted to and from their rooms after dark. There are electronic safes in all of the rooms.
Fire safety: There are fire extinguishers in the main areas as well as outside the bedrooms.
Disabled access: On Request
Laundry facilities: Laundry is an extra Charge at Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge – the costs vary per item but the prices are reasonable.
Money: Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge can exchange small sums of money in US dollars, euros and pounds sterling.
Accepted payment on location: You can pay using pound sterling, US dollars, euros and Tanzanian shillings in cash. You can also use Visa and Mastercard at no extra cost.