Rhino Lodge

Rhino Lodge: Our full report

24 rooms
Traveller's rating
Excellent (90%) From 21 reviews
Best for 8+
All year

Opened in 2007, Rhino Lodge is a relatively large lodge in a great location facing dense forest on the slopes of the Ngorongoro Crater, close to the rim. It's refreshingly simple with a relaxed atmosphere, and is operated in conjunction with the governing body of the area's Maasai, to ensure that they benefit from the lodge's success. Almost all the staff come from the local village, and part of the lodge's income goes directly to the Maasai community.

The main lodge is built with solid stone walls which are yellow stucco on the outside, and whitewashed on the inside. The floors are highly polished stone and in the main dining room, colourful tablecloths top the tables that are dotted around. Several comfortable sofas surround a large central fireplace; on a previous visit this proved a cosy place to settle after dinner and pit your bao skills (a traditional African board game) against the local Maasai. The room is decorated with Rhino bronzes and buffalo horns and there is a small DSTV in one corner.

The 24 rooms at Rhino Lodge are situated in a terraced rows around an outside courtyard, with a long wooden veranda on one side, facing the forest. Inside, the rooms are simple, with tiled floors, whitewashed walls and comfortable beds. Bed throws and curtains made from Maasai blankets add a touch of style and colour, and a small fireburner will keep you warm in the cooler months. There is also space to hang clothes, and a small writing desk and dresser where you'll find a mirror and some bottled water. The result is a simple functional room, with a traditional character. Rooming configurations are very flexible as triples can be arranged in each room and four rooms have a double bed and bunk beds. In addition, Rhino Lodge has two family rooms.

The en-suite bathrooms are again quite simple, but clean, with a hot shower, flushing toilet and handbasin. A wrought-iron towel rail and loo-roll holder break up the slightly clinical feel and lend some character. There is also a UK-style plug socket in the wall which makes charging batteries possible in the rooms, when the generator is turned on.

The main restaurant is situated at the back of the property overlooking the forest. A large wooden deck wraps around the restaurant on two of its sides which has a few chimineas and a stone fire pit to keep guests warm if they want to sit out in the evenings. The restaurant is designed as simply as the rest of the rest of the property. There are wooden chairs and tables covered by red tablecloths and the only other decoration is some pictures of Rhinoceroses and a few storm lanterns. The main focal points of the room are the two large fireplaces in the center which add warmth in the cooler months.

From Rhino Lodge you will usually head out on activities with your own private vehicle and guide. It is a very good base from which to explore the Ngorongoro Crater, as it's only about 20 minutes' drive from the main 'descent' road to the Crater floor. You can also head out on a beautiful two–three-hour walk in the Ngorongoro highlands; this costs US$20 per group.

Our view

Rhino Lodge is a simple lodge with a clear purpose and approach. It's relatively Spartan, but for the more adventurous traveller, it is an interesting and economical place to stay with enviably close access to the Crater floor. We visited Rhino Lodge when it first opened in 2007 and have visited it three times since; most recently in June 2017, and we still feel that it continues to be a good low cost option.


Location: Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania

Ideal length of stay: Spend two nights at Rhino Lodge in order to explore the Crater floor for one day – or stay a little longer to enjoy some walking as well.

Directions: Rhino Lodge is immediately next to the Ngorongoro Crater's rim; around a 3½ hour drive from Arusha, or a 2-hour drive from Lake Manyara.

Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer

Key personnel

Owner: Essential Destinations

Staff: 50, including management

Food & drink

Usual board basis: Full Board

Food quality: The food at Rhino Lodge is quite simple, yet hearty and filling, and there is plenty to go around. Complimentary tea, coffee and hot chocolate are available from a self-service bar throughout the day. Filtered water is always available for drinking.

Breakfast is served from 6.00am until 9.00am and usually consists of plenty of fruit, fresh bread, eggs cooked to your liking and fresh juice. Tea and coffee are also available.

Guests are usually provided with a packed lunch, so that you don't have to return to the lodge. Rhino Lodge provides sandwiches, fresh fruit, a snack such as biscuits or cake, and a drink.

If the lodge is full, dinner is usually a buffet, but for fewer guests there will be a set three-course menu. On our last visit in June 2017, we did not get a chance to sample the food but on a previous stay in 2011 we enjoyed zucchini soup to start, followed by a choice of either chicken masala or meatballs, with rice or potatoes. We then had a fruit salad for dessert. In general the food varies between Swahili and internationally influenced dishes.

Dining style: Individual Tables

Dining locations: Indoor Dining

Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included

Drinks included: Drinks are not included.

Further dining info: No


Attitude towards children: Rhino Lodge welcomes children of all ages.

Property’s age restrictions: There are no age restrictions at Rhino Lodge.

Special activities & services: There are no special activities or services at Rhino Lodge.

Equipment: Rhino Lodge has a cot as well as high chairs for small children.


Power supply: Generator

Power supply notes: The generator is only turned on between 05:00 - 09:00 and 17:00 - 21:00 and so electricity is only available during these hours. Solar power is used to heat water.

Communications: There is cellphone reception at Rhino Lodge and there is also a laptop in reception which can be borrowed free of charge for up to 20 minutes.

TV & radio: There is no radio at Rhino Lodge, but there is DSTV (satellite television) in the lounge.

Water supply: Transported in

Water supply notes: Piped in from the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. Bottled water is provided for guests to drink. There is also hot and cold running water that is fine to wash with.

Health & safety

Malarial protection recommended: Yes

Medical care: Rhino Lodge has a basic first-aid kit on site and there is a small hospital nearby if there is an emergency.

Dangerous animals: High Risk

Security measures: There are askaris (local guards) patrolling throughout the day and night.

Fire safety: There are fire extinguishers and ire blankets by each room and all of the staff are trained in fire safety.


Disabled access: On Request

Laundry facilities: Laundry is not possible ant Rhino Lodge.

Money: There are no currency exchange facilities at Rhino Lodge.

Accepted payment on location: Travellers can pay for any extras in US dollars or Tanzanian shillings cash. MasterCard and Visa credit cards are also accepted, although there is a 5% surcharge for this.

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