Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge

Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge: Our full report

Rooms
98 rooms
Traveller's rating
Good (84%) From 17 reviews
Children
Fine for all ages
Open
All year

The 98-room Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge is an international-style hotel positioned on the eastern edge of Tanzania's UNESCO-listed Ngorongoro Crater, with stunning views over the Crater.

Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge is part of the Sopa chain, which also includes the Serengeti Sopa Lodge and Tarangire Sopa Lodge.

The 98 bedrooms at Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge are set in large two-storey rondavels, separate from the main building. Each rondavel houses four bedrooms, two downstairs and two upstairs, all 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-size 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 interconnecting rooms 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.

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 200 people. The dining chairs are comfortably cushioned and match the blue of the carpet. In the centre of the room is an open fireplace which is now decorative only. 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, the décor is certainly dated.

Above the lounge is a multi-functional space that can be used for conferences and also has a small number of sofas around a TV. There is a sizeable balcony where private dinners or drinks can be held.

In front of the main building is a swimming pool, which is surrounded by well-manicured lush green grass and wooden sunloungers with a view right out over Ngorongoro Crater. The pool here is the only one on the crater rim, and although it can be bracing, it's a great addition to the property. On a grassy level below, there are a number of campfire spots, perfect for enjoy sundowners looking out over the Crater.


Most guests spend two nights at Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge, whose main activities are half-or full-day visits into Ngorongoro Crater. The 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. 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.

Visitors might also want to spend a day visiting Empakaai Crater, which is only a 90-minute drive from the lodge. 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, and on a clear day you can see Lake Natron and Mount Kilimanjaro in the distance.

Our view

For travellers looking for something intimate, stylish and authentic, Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge is not the right place. However, it has a great feeling of space, the staff are very friendly and the views are magnificent. The lodge has quick access down to the Crater floor and it is great for families with younger children who would make the most of the pool, as well as for those travelling on a bit of a budget.

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 Ngorongoro Crater. If you are able to spend three nights, you could also spend a full day walking in the 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 an hour to drive to the lodge from the Ngorongoro Conservation Area gate and around 90 minutes from Manyara Airstrip.

Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer

Key personnel

Owner: Sopa Lodges

Food & drink

Usual board basis: Full Board

Food quality: When we last visited the Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge in November 2016, we didn't have a chance to stay for a meal. However, we did have a long chat with the manager about the menus. Special dietary requirements can be catered for with advance notice.

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, mushrooms and tomatoes, and eggs cooked at your table to your liking.

Many of the guests decide to head into the Crater for a full day, so take a packed lunch with them. This consists of a sandwich, a snack such as a samosa or piece of barbecued chicken, a piece of fruit and a muffin or biscuit.

Those staying at the lodge for lunch will be served a buffet that is geared to different appetites. Alongside the likes of sandwiches, croque monsieurs and salads, there are more substantial meals such as pasta, stew or curry.

Dinner is a larger three-course meal with a soup starter, a main course – with chicken, red meat, fish and vegetarian options – and a choice of three desserts.

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$25 for a bottle of house wine. Tea and filter coffee are complimentary throughout the day but speciality coffees, such as cappuccino or espresso, cost extra. In the afternoon, complimentary cake and cookies are served at the little coffee shop. Each room is provided with two bottles of water a day for drinking and brushing teeth.

Further dining info: On request.

Children

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 housekeeping, 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.

Notes: Parents should note that the lodge is not enclosed, and game does come into the grounds, so children should be supervised at all times.

Infrastructure

Power supply: Generator

Power supply notes: The generator is on 24 hours a day and guests can charge their batteries at any time.

Communications: There is intermittent cellphone reception at Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge, but you can make international calls from the phones at reception at around US$6 per minute. WiFi is available in the main building and by the pool, but not in the rooms. 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: All bathrooms are fully plumbed in.

Health & safety

Malarial protection recommended: Yes

Medical care: Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge has an on-site person trained in first-aid for minor cases. The nearest hospital is in Karatu, a 90-minute drive away.

Dangerous animals: High Risk

Security measures: There are askaris (guards) around the property day and night. Guests are escorted to and from their rooms after dark.

Fire safety: There are fire extinguishers in the main areas as well as outside the bedrooms.

Extras

Disabled access: On Request

Laundry facilities: Laundry is an extra charge at Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge; 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. There are electronic safes in all of the rooms.

Accepted payment on location: You can pay in cash using pounds sterling, US dollars, euros and Tanzanian shillings. You can also use Visa and Mastercard at no extra cost.

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