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“The Most Opulent Hotel/Lodge in Tanzania!”

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andBeyond Ngorongoro Crater Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
Houston, Texas
Level Contributor
52 reviews
42 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 159 helpful votes
“The Most Opulent Hotel/Lodge in Tanzania!”
Reviewed December 4, 2008

We booked our Safari with &Beyond (formerly CC Africa) and Ngorongoro Crater was the fourth "camp" in our 16 night journey.

What a GREAT lodge/hotel!!

This place is first visually STUNNING. You must walk around to see the amazing craftsmanship. The decor is eclectic with a blend of India, Africa and the Middle East. Very cool!

One guest, who is a designer who lives in the UK said, "skip the game drives, and enjoy the room".

We took the advice of a previous Trip Advisor reviewer and requested Cottage 12A, which we discovered is usually reserved for honeymooners. (We were not honeymooners but everyone thought we were, does that count? LOL)

12A is the most private of the North Camp cottages and is set below the others with a partial view of the crater. Since we didn't spend all our time in the room, the partial view was OK with us. We really enjoyed the privacy of this particular cottage.

After sunset, you will be escorted to your room by a local Masai "warrior". Since there are no fences and wild animals all over, they take every precaution to keep you safe.

As a plus, each room has a safe, blow dryer, separate tub, rain shower, dual sinks, flashlight, converter to charge your electronics, twin wardrobes, desk with Bose sound system for iPod, fireplace in sitting area, make-up station/desk, water closet, and deck over-looking crater. Note: The resort turns off the generator each day from 3pm - 5pm to conserve energy.

North and South Camps are right next to each other (with 12 cottages each) and each camp has their own (almost identical) dining lodge/hall.

Rooms 1 - 12 are located at the top of the hill and all of the North Camp rooms seem to have excellent views of the Crater (except 12A, which is a good view of the crater, just not the entire crater, due to trees).

South Camp has a slightly bigger lodge, which includes an outdoor fire pit. South Camp is ideal for weddings and/or groups. All the South camp rooms (#14 - 24) appear to have good/excellent views of the crater.

One note about Tree Camp. The rooms are smaller (about half the size of the others) but still very nice.

The only issue with Tree Camp is the trees have grown a lot and are obstructing the views of many of the 6 rooms. The Tanzania government does not allow them to trim the trees on national park land so there are questions about whether these rooms will be desirable in the future (despite the amazing Tree Lodge).

The Tree Camp was closed when we were there because tourism is down, but Irene, the manager at North Camp, arranged for us to have a romantic breakfast in the Tree Lodge on our final morning. What a treat!

The Tree Lodge is the best lodge and very intimate and romantic. Make sure you take a walk to see it. The deck overlooking the crater has amazing views.

We ended up getting a tour of the entire property, including a room in Tree Camp, so if you wat to see pictures and know more, my email is listed below.

The staff and food is excellent. Each night we came back to rose pedals and a freshly drawn bath, and a fire in the fireplace (upon our request to our butler).

The game drives (morning or afternoon) are good but I would not say excellent. Compared to the other &Beyond (formerly CC Africa) properties, the gaming is better elsewhere.

This is the "Disneyland" of Tanzania with numerous visitors and tour vehicles vying to view the same animals. Also, there is no off-roading of vehicles allowed. Go to Klein's Camp for the best up-close animal viewing.

Regardless, it is worth going because you never know what you'll see and each day is different in the crater.

&Beyond/CC Africa has the BEST vehicles for game drives. The semi-open Land Rovers with pop-top are awesome and allow for good viewing and comfort.

Regarding tipping, bring plenty of low denomination US Dollars ($20, $10, $5, $1) for tipping at each camp/location. We tipped the Chef, Butler, Housekeeper and Ranger.

The laundry service was a real benefit. Pack light, you don't need a lot of clothes. All &Beyond/CC Africa camps do your laundry.

The drive from the Lake Manyara air strip is about 2 hours.

FYI - Luggage cannot weigh more than 33 pounds/15 kilograms (per person) and must be in a duffle/soft bag. This is due to the flight requirements of the "puddle jumper" planes that take you from camp to camp.

If you want to see more photos or need additional information, feel free to contact me at ccgabor@comcast.net.

Enjoy your trip!

PS - This is a GREAT place for a honeymoon (if you like adventure).

  • Stayed November 2008, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
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4 Thank CathrynG
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Glendale, California
Level Contributor
28 reviews
13 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 41 helpful votes
Reviewed October 20, 2008

With so many great reviews already written about the Crater Lodge, I'm not sure what I could add, but I'll try to share a few of my possive experiences and recommendations.

Great Views!: The Lodge is as amazing as everyone writes. The views over the crater floor are breathtaking and even more amazing with the sun rising above the crater rim at dawn. As to where the best rooms are located, all the rooms in the North and South Camps appeared to have similar views. The tree camp was more difficult to see, but I would imagine they are good there as well.

Great Room!: The room is huge and the decor was incredible. The bathroom was open and spacious with a large tub sitting in the middle of the room and an open air shower located between two vanities. The bedroom had a king bed with plush linens and a sitting area with a woodburning fireplace. Truly spectacular.

Great service!: From the moment we were greeted at the airstrip with tea and cookies, I knew it was going to be special. Then upon arrival to the Lodge, we were welcomed by the manager, waiter, and butler who escorted us to our rooms. Coming back from our first game drive, our butler had set up a bubble bath. I can't remember the last time I took a bubble bath, but I decided to give it a try. It was the perfect finish to a "tough" day on the crater floor. And don't forget to get the perfect wake up call---a visit to your room by your butler with tea and biscuits. A great way to start the day. This place makes the Four Seasons Hotels seem ordinary!

Great Food!: Every meal seemed better than the last. There was never a shortage of delicious food and it was always elegantly served.. We loved the dining room and of course, the views.

Great Game drives: Our driver Wilfred was extremely friendly, patient and knowlegable and worked hard to make sure we saw a variety of animals. We saw SO many animals including lions, cheetahs, elephants, buffalo, hippo, hyenas, gazelles, zebra, warthogs, and black rhino. While I understand some of the reader comments about it being crowded and not a great place to see anmials in a natural environment, no one can say it is not great game viewing. There aren't too many other places where you can spot such a variety of animals including the very rare black rhino. While I would not make a visit to Ngorongoro Crater the only stop on a game safari, I believe it's a must and a great compliment to any itinerary. And you can't beat the morning breakfast stop by the hippo pool.

Other things to note.....We decided to take a visit to the nearby Masai village. While it is a bit commercialized, we did enjoy seeing the local people in their own environment. But be ready to spend some money if you decide to make the visit. Stay at least two nights. It was originally suggested to us to stay only one night due to the high cost of the rooms. While I agree that it is unbelievably expensive, I would highly recommend staying at least two nights to really get the full experieince of the Lodge. Bring enough warm clothes and dress in layers. It can go from hot to cold pretty quickly. Also, take advantage of the complimentary laundry service.

Don't miss a trip to the Crater Lodge!

  • Liked — The room, the views and the service
  • Disliked — nothing
  • Stayed September 2008, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
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    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
5 Thank JDMTraveler
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Greenville, South Carolina
Level Contributor
105 reviews
29 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 114 helpful votes
Reviewed October 4, 2008

As we drove close to the lodge, I recognized it from the pictures on the Internet. They look like Hobbit Huts. We were met by Irene, manager, and our butler, Patrick. We stayed in South Camp and actually had the hut next to where we would eat our meals…very convenient. The views were too die for…ok, perhaps I could struggle to stay here for three nights (one night was added to the Crater lodge because we could not get to one of the lodges due to roads being washed out).

The rooms are fabulous and way over the top. Our room had two decks, one off the bedroom area and one off the bathroom. We had a fireplace, a sitting area and two sinks with a large shower area between them. Even the toilet had a view of the crater.The food was good, but not outstanding. There was plenty to eat each night and we actually asked Patrick to lighten up on our portions.

Did an afternoon safari in the crater. Saw lions, rhino, cheetah, zebra, hyena, wildebeest, warthogs, etc. I love the lighting from about 4:00 on and the crater took on a magical look.When it came time to leave, I could not understand why we were heading to the steep looking mountain….there is no way there was a road there. Our guide, Martin, indicated that , “oh yes there is a road on that mountain.” Really? Now, I just thought some of the people on the board were exaggerating about the road to and from the crater since I didn’t think the one down was that bad. But, dear god, the one out took my breath away. That was an E ticket ride for sure. They take school buses up that road...not sure how, but they do. Whoa.

So, the second day into the crater we got in at about 7:00 am and returned to the lodge at 2ish. We saw about 5 lions, another cheetah, more rhino, zebras, jackals, hyenas, warthogs, ostriches, and elephants. We also saw a hundred or so wildebeest babies. Some of the placentas were still attached to the mom. Some babies had been born recently as they were trying to get the hang of walking. It was amazing to see this nursery of babies. We had lunch at the hippo pool (very good) and returned back the wildebeest nursery since we were so fascinated.

I know many people described the crater like a zoo and I do agree it was less wild then the Lake or the Serengeti, but I did like the fact I could see some of the animals up close and really take in what they looked like. Plus, seeing Rhinos was thrilling. The only time it got crazy with vehicles was at a lion sighting we came upon. There were already 10 vehicles there and within a span of 10 minutes another 10-15 showed up. I wasn’t disgusted or annoyed by it since I figure we all should have the thrill of seeing such a magnificent sight. The lions were rustling in the bushes and finally one male and one female strolled out for about 30 seconds and went back into the bushes.

Final thoughts on the Crater Lodge: Great service. I really did enjoy it (especially the bubble baths each day), but found three nights to be one night too many. I would recommend the lodge for a stay once in your life.

  • Liked — The view of the crater!
  • Disliked — The cost!
  • Stayed February 2007, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Check in / front desk
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Helpful?
1 Thank Monica041
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sydney
Level Contributor
22 reviews
20 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 31 helpful votes
Reviewed August 2, 2008

I agree with the reviews here about the quality of the accommodation. On arrival I thought I was walking into a Tolkein novel...the rooms look like something a hobbit is about to walk out of. The decor and design are certainly unique - the main lodge feels like you are drinking in a Salvador Dali painting and everything is melting around you! Certainly the most random interior design I have seen in a while....but it works beautifully and gives the place heaps of character.

The rooms are excellent as well. Comfy bed, log fire, huge bathtub, well thought out and a pleasure to stay in. Lots of nice little touches (sherry, chocolates, roses everywhere etc).

The view was also amazing when the fog lifted. Sunrise over the crater was the highlight of the stay for me.

However....I was really here for the wildlife and on that basis this isn't the place to stay. It takes over an hour to make it to the crater from the lodge. When you get there you feel like you are in DisneyLand Africa - trucks and buses everywhere. You can't go offroad which severely limits the experience. I found that talking to people for whom this was their first safari experience they were impressed, but those who had been elsewhere before were not.

Technically I can say I saw two cheetah, a cheetah killing an impale, three black rhino and lots of lions....this all sounds pretty good, but it was all through binoculars from a long way away and constantly surrounded by hundreds of other people. Terrible for photos and was more of a 'tick the box' animal spotting exercise than an animal experience.

There isn't a lot the lodge can do about this as it is a National Park and they don't make the rules. Personally I am glad I saw it but I wouldn't go back. I left feeling that it was an incredibly expensive hotel (US$1000 a night per person.....I have no idea where the average prices on this site come from!!) in a nice location, but not the place for a safari. If you want an animal 'experience' and have this sort of money to spend you are much better off going to a private concession in South Africa or Kenya as you will have an infinitely better experience.

  • Liked — Accommodation was excellent
  • Disliked — Wildlife experience was very average and not worth the money
  • Stayed July 2007, traveled solo
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
6 Thank Beard3894
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New Forest, UK
Level Contributor
96 reviews
64 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 126 helpful votes
Reviewed July 27, 2008

Wow!!!! That's all you can say when you arrive. It's difficult to add anything useful to previous reviews, the welcome, the staff, the room, the views (no17 South Lodge), the food, the fire and electric blanket, the company - it's all exemplary.
Aziza was a great guide and successfully took us birding as well as looking for all the mammals. We greatly enjoyed her company and information.
This was our celebration of retirement and it was part of a wonderful start to a new life. Unlike the honeymooners, no bubble bath was drawn for us on return from safari. Is there ageism at this Lodge? On our first night we woke to a great juddering - my wife thought it was the butler, George, trying to enter with our morning coffee but it was 3am. Then she thought it was the buffalo rubbing up against our lodge. We realised it was an earth tremor next morning, so the earth did move for us!
The only fault was getting to the dining room at night. Our phone didn't work (allegedly cable damaged by the buffalo) so we had no way of contacting security to provide safe passage for us. There was no Plan B so we had no option but to escort ourselves, fortified by the sherry thoughtfully provided.

  • Stayed July 2008, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
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    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
1 Thank Bugsy47
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New York, NY
Level Contributor
4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
Reviewed July 8, 2008

We just returned from our honeymoon in Tanzania where we stayed at the Ngorongoro Crater Lodge for 4 nights (we also stayed at CC Africa’s Klein’s Camp in the Serengeti and at the Breezes Beach Club and Spa in Zanzibar). My wife and I are both seasoned travelers and have been all around the world, but the Ngorongoro Crater Lodge provides an experience like no other place in the world!

The impeccable service begins the moment you arrive, with the staff meeting you in the Lodge's driveway as you pull in. They greet your with a delicious drink (not sure what it was) and a warm towel which seemingly wipes away all past experiences and prepares you for the ultimate one!

As we walked to the Lodge's common area for our check-in (we stayed in the North Camp) we were greeted with a view into the Crater in the background and zebra and buffalo grazing on the premises in the foreground. It was like entering a lost world.

The service was superb. Our butler, Nemes, was always kind and really took pride in making our stay as enjoyable as possible. The food was spectacular (and always complied with our dietary restrictions) and we can honestly say that the food was just as good as that in top tier restaurants in Manhattan.

The accommodations were luxurious yet comforting. There were fantastic views from all rooms of our own personal cottage. The cottage was beautifully decorated in a style that combined western luxury with African themes.

As for the game viewing, the Crater is unmatched. There is such an abundance of wildlife in such a small area that you're essentially guaranteed to see a wide array of animals. Our ranger, Eddie, was also amazing. He was impressively knowledgeable about every animal and their behavior and his knowledge really enabled us to locate and view every animal we wanted to see (except the elusive leopard) with relative ease; we saw a lioness hunting, a lion pair mating, a cheetah, elephants, a black rhino, hippos, buffalo, zebra, wildebeest, gazelles, hyenas, countless species of birds…and that was all in one day!! We saw even more in the other two days that we were there! Not only that but Eddie is simply a kind person and we enjoyed our long days in the Crater with him.

Also, as it was quite cold when we were there (June is their winter and the Crater Lodge is about 7000 ft. above sea level), it was really nice to have a fire always burning in the fire place of our cottage and to have electric heating pads in the bed at night. This, of course, was all done by the staff without us having to ask as was the warm bubble bath waiting in our room when we returned from safari.

Finally, we highly recommend going on the "sun-downer" one evening. They drive you to the highest point on the Crater rim and you watch the sun set while the staff serves you cocktails and snacks. A simply breathtaking experience.

We really can't compliment CC Africa enough. From the impeccable service to their attention to detail in every aspect of our trip. They literally handled everything for us, from bringing us coffee in the afternoon to arranging transportation from the domestic terminal to the international terminal at Dar Es Salam airport, they literally took care of every aspect of our trip so we could relax and enjoy the unforgettable experience.

Ngorongoro Crater Lodge is the ultimate in African luxury and safari. It is impossible to overstate the wonderful service, food, and experiences that the staff and the Crater itself provided us.

  • Liked — The service, the staff and the game viewing!
  • Disliked — We enjoyed everything!
  • Stayed June 2008, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank Travelling-Troop
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Spokane, WA
Level Contributor
28 reviews
15 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 47 helpful votes
Reviewed June 13, 2008

The Ngorongoro Crater Lodge is perched at the edge of a seemingly endless crater, filled with wildlife wonders... the sea of pink flamingos behind a herd of galloping zebra is unlike anything I have ever experienced! And the stay at the Crater Lodge was just as magical.

A herd of zebra were peacefully grazing on the front lawn of the lodge as we checked in. As we walked in the doors, we felt like we were transported to a different world - over-the-top luxury, impeccable service and a hard-to-describe ambiance!

As other travellers have described, the architecture and design are very unusual - some very formal, European gilt and glitz, against the backdrop of traditional African structure. It's almost whimsical, which adds to the magic.

We found the service to be fantastic. It was very chilly in the evenings, and we loved coming back to our room to a fire in the fireplace, and electric mattress pads heating up our enormous and very comfortable bed. Unlike another traveler, we did not find the staffs' warnings to be escorted back to our room at night out of line, as a couple of nights, there were very large cape buffalo grazing right outside our door, and under our hut. Wouldn't want to startle one of those in the dark.

Many travellers have mentioned they wouldn't recommend the Lodge for young children, however we were travelling with our 8-year old daughter, and it was wonderful. The staff bent over backwards to make her stay very special, and they could not have been more friendly, kind and sweet with her.

I would highly recommend the Crater Lodge to anyone going to Tanzania. It's worth the price of admission just to experience a place so magical and unique. I'm sure I'll never experience anything like it again! It's more than a beautiful hotel, it's an experience.

  • Liked — Service
  • Disliked — What's not to like?
  • Stayed May 2008, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank AgadorSpartacus
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about andBeyond Ngorongoro Crater Lodge

Property: andBeyond Ngorongoro Crater Lodge
Address: Ngorongoro Crater, Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Tanzania
Location: Tanzania > Arusha Region > Ngorongoro Conservation Area
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Suites
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 2 Hotels in Ngorongoro Conservation Area
Hotel Class:5 star — andBeyond Ngorongoro Crater Lodge 5*
Number of rooms: 30
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Steeped in romance, each stilted, handcrafted banana thatch suite at andBeyond Ngorongoro Crater Lodge is adorned with graceful antiques and unforgettable opulence. Ensuite bathrooms, with a centrepiece of fresh roses, feature huge showers and chandelier-lit bathtubs, while floor-to-ceiling windows ensure breathtaking views from all around. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Ngorongoro Crater Hotel Ngorongoro Conservation Area
Hotel Ngorongoro Crater

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