Rhotia Valley Tented Lodge: Our full report
Perched high on a hill overlooking the valley of the seasonal Rhotia River, Rhotia Valley Tented Lodge is ...... a simple and friendly camp in a good location between the Ngorongoro Crater and the Rift Valley Escarpment. Aside from being a good-value base to explore the surrounding area, the lodge has a noticeably positive impact on the local community through its work with a nearby children’s home – and guests can see this work first-hand.
Built in 2007, Rhotia Valley Tented Lodge is part of the “Rhotia Valley Project”, which supports people from the local community. The project’s motto is “two hills, one goal”: the lodge sits on one hill and directly opposite on another hill is the Rhotia Valley Children's Home. Both were set up by Dutch couple Joris (“George”) and Marise Koch. As medical practitioners, they used to come out to the area for seminars, and took an active interest in contributing to their local community, eventually deciding to establish their own project.
The lodge provides employment in the community: all members of staff are from the local area. On top of this, 20% of the nightly rate is goes directly to the children's home. At present, this is home to 38 children and young people aged between 4 and 20 (mostly orphaned by AIDS or road accidents). The project also employs some teachers at the home and helps 12 other children from the local village with school fees and uniform.
Guests at the lodge can visit the children's home in the evening to see how it runs, and to meet the children the project is helping. This visit really made our stay at Rhotia Valley special, as we could see the great work they are doing for the local community. We strongly encourage you to visit the children’s home if you have time.
The concept of the Rhotia Valley is raw and simple; it certainly doesn't have a polished or luxurious feel – but this is not what it is aiming to achieve.
There are 15 permanent tents, each suspended under a thatched roof on wooden decking. Some have views over the woodland, while others look down onto the cultivated valley below. Tents #4, 6, 10 and 12 are doubles and tent #7 is a triple. Tent #16 is a primarily used as a honeymoon tent as it set away a little. The rest are twins apart from #8 and 9, which are a family unit comprising a double and a twin.
In keeping with the simple style of the lodge, the tents are modest and functional. Inside you'll find double or twin beds, a luggage rack, a wicker chair or daybed, with a few colourful throws, and a printed canvas hung behind the beds. Note that the twin room beds are almost adjoining, so if you are not very familiar with each other, two separate tents may be preferable! Despite its slightly chilly location in the evening (the lodge is at an altitude of 1,700m), the tents feel cosy, with hot water bottles and blankets provided.
Towards the back of each tent, the en-suite bathroom also is functional rather than stylish. A low bamboo divide separates the flush toilet from a shower and small basin. Hot water is always available, but the lodge is trying to be water conscious, providing guests with a bucket to collect cold shower water while waiting for the hot water to come through!
There’s a rustic charm to the central areas of the lodge. The main communal area is a large, airy, brick-and-thatch structure, with lots of wicker furniture. The lounge and dining section of this area has a lovely large brick fireplace, a good spot to warm up after dinner, when it can get quite chilly. Blankets and braziers are provided for particularly cold nights. There are plenty of tables and chairs laid out, and an open kitchen where you can watch your dinner being prepared by the very friendly chefs. Outside, a large wooden bar made from local eucalyptus wood is a great place to sit and watch the sun set over the valley below.
Near reception (a rust-coloured shipping container) is a small oval-shaped swimming pool, surrounded by sunloungers. The pool looks out over the valley and gets nicely warm during the day, despite the altitude, so is a good spot to relax.
Most guests at Rhotia Valley use it as a base to explore the Ngorongoro Crater or Lake Manyara with their own private driver guide, but activities can be arranged from the lodge. These include a hike along the crater rim; usually they'll drive you there, then it's a six-hour hike back through the forests of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area with a park ranger and their own guide. You can walk to the village with a member of staff, take a local guide to learn about the uses of native plants, or experience the everyday life of farmers in the area.
We loved the relaxed, well-integrated feeling here. There’s a good sense of management and staff working well together. Rhotia Valley Tented Lodge is certainly not the place to come for luxury, but it is rustic and homely. If you're seeking a simple, functional lodge, in a good location, with a real community slant, this could suit you well.
Country manager: Tanzania
- Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania
- Ideal length of stay
- Stay two or three nights here as a base to explore the surrounding area.
- Rhotia Valley Tented Lodge is about 15 minutes' drive off the main road from Arusha to the Ngorongoro Crater. However it can easily take twice as long after rain.
- Accessible by
Food & drink
- Usual board basis
- Full Board
- Food quality
- We found the food to be tasty, homely and hearty. Special requests and allergies can be catered for with advance notice.
Breakfast is served until 10.00am: usually a continental selection of cereals and fruit, followed by eggs cooked to order.
Lunch at the lodge is usually two or three courses, but many guests take a picnic lunch and head out on a full-day game drive.
Dinner begins at 7.30pm and is usually three courses. Meals are freshly prepared, with most of the vegetables and all the herbs grown in the lodge's extensive vegetable garden. We enjoyed fresh tomato soup, followed by roasted beef with rice and vegetables, and chocolate cake desert. There's a nice 'bush dinner' area on a little platform near the 'Honeymoon Tent' #16.
The bread made at their own bakery here is used not just in the lodge but in the children's home. The lodge also runs a a coffee shop on a nearby ridge which provides more local employment.
- Family holidays
- Rhotia Valley is a wonderful option for families. There are no age restrictions. Guests have the opportunity to visit the children's home associated with the lodge. It's a great opportunity for children to become involved with the local community.
- See ideas for Family holidays
- Cultural experiences
- Rhotia Valley Tented Lodge has had a noticeably positive impact on the local community through its establishment of a nearby children’s home – and guests can see this work first-hand.
- See ideas for Cultural experiences
- Attitude towards children
- Children of all ages are welcome.
- Property’s age restrictions
- No age restrictions.
- Special activities & services
- The lodge can provide special meals for children, and their timings are flexible.
- The lodge doesn't provide any cots, highchairs or special equipment for children, but football games with the local children can be quite a feature.
- Generally recommended for children
- Rhotia Valley Tented Lodge is a good option for families, as guests are given the opportunity to interact and play with children from the children's home associated with the lodge. It's a great opportunity for children to become involved with the local community.
- The tents are raised up on wooden platforms, so are not suitable for very young children. The pool is unfenced and there is no lifeguard on duty. Wildlife can wander through the camp so be vigilant.
Our travellers’ wildlife sightings from Rhotia Valley Ttd. Lodge
Since mid-2018, many of our travellers who stayed at Rhotia Valley Tented 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.
- Power supply notes
- The generator is on from 6.00-9.00pm and a battery bank stores power for use during the rest of the day. They also use solar panels. There are sockets from which you can charge batteries in the tents, but the electricity in the lounge/dining area is stabilised, and therefore better for charging.
- WiFi access is charged at US$5 per device per day.
- TV & radio
- There is no TV or radio for guests, but the staff TV can be shared on special occasions such as major sporting events.
- Water supply
- Water supply notes
- A new borehole supplies all the lodge’s water– up to 15,000 litres per hour. This water is treated and used for drinking water (the government water agency in Moshi tested it and found it to be perfectly drinkable even before treatment). You can also buy plastic bottled water if you prefer.
Providing shelter to underprivileged children
Rhotia Valley Tented Lodge is quickly becoming a community-based lodge where guests play a significant role in the development of neighbouring villages.
The core priority is building and investing into securing housing for underprivileged children. The social project of ‘Children’s Home’ offers shelter, clothes, food and education, and for many the lodge has become a second-home. Every day after serving breakfast, 40 children hop on in the Zebra Children School Bus and go to school. Their after-school programme includes activities such as soccer, games or arts and crafts in which guests are also encouraged to participate and act as mentors to the younger ones. Monthly revenues from the lodge contribute directly to the running costs of supporting the ‘Children’s Home’ initiative (food, fuel and staff).
The lodge also works closely with local communities, schools and businesses from the local areas. Rhotia Valley provides employment opportunities – in the lodge, the bakery and dairy farm as well as the Coffee Corner (a new training centre) – resulting in a rate of 90% of staff being employed from local villages. This provides tourists the opportunity to interact with people from various backgrounds, and to share unique experiences or learn how to cook local dishes and indulge in traditions aimed to keep the local culture alive.
See more great sustainability projects in Tanzania
Health & safety
- Malarial protection recommended
- Medical care
- Rhotia Valley is run by doctors, so you're already in good hands. They have all the basics here, but usually go to Dr Frank at the FAME clinic in Karatu if anyone needs more urgent or serious attention.
- Dangerous animals
- Moderate Risk
- Security measures
- Askaris (Maasai guards known as walinizi ) are on duty throughout the day and night. The lodge is partly fenced and there are two nice dogs who can distinguish between guests and intruders.
- Fire safety
- There are sand buckets by each tent, and one fire extinguisher for every three tents. They are occasionally checked by the fire department.
Guided walking safari
- Disabled access
- On Request
- Laundry facilities
- They lodge can do laundry, at extra cost, and not including underwear.
- Guests may store valuables in the safe at reception (inside the shipping container).
- Accepted payment on location
- Rhotia Valley Tented Lodge accepts Visa and MasterCard with a 3% surcharge. They also accept cash payment in US dollars,,pounds sterling, euros and Tanzanian shillings.
Other lodges in Ngorongoro Crater
Alternative places to stay in this same area.