It’s a toss-up between what's more breathtaking here along the rim of Ngorongoro Crater: the sunrise views of the world’s deepest and largest volcanic caldera, haven for more than 25,000 wild animals (including the endangered black rhino); or the lodge’s contrast between the Masai-inspired mud-walled and banana frond–thatched architecture and the all the silk, velvet, and crystal of sumptuous, neo-Victorian boudoir furnishings. The romantic, glamorous guest suites—divided into three sub-camps—are supremely comfortable, and butlers strew thousands of locally grown rose petals in them each day. But the emphasis here is on 4WD game viewing on the 100-square-mile crater floor, and guests wake up early (5:30 a.m.) to beat the traffic jam of safari vehicles making the slow, 2,000-foot descent on the common access road. No off-road driving is permitted, to protect the crater’s unique Arthur Conan Doyle–lost world environment, which can lead to congregations of vehicles and travelers angling for shots of charismatic species. However, andBeyond’s eagle-eyed guides prove adept at tracking game and evading crowds. For travelers who really want to get away from it all, the lodge offers day trips for hikers into car-free Empakaai, a scenic four-mile-wide sister crater half covered by a lake.
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The 30 suites share similar architecture and furnishings but are divided between three camps, North, South, and Tree, each with its own dining area and staff, to enhance an atmosphere of isolation and intimacy.
Need to Know
Rooms: 30 suites; from $1,000 per person inclusive of meals and daily game drives. Check-in: 2 p.m.; check-out: 11 a.m. Dining options: Room service is dependent on weather. Suites and the common dining decks have stupendous views, but many guests opt to eat a picnic breakfast and lunch alfresco on the crater floor to maximize game viewing. Evening cuisine is hearty and heavy, a mixture of pan-African dishes spiced with cinnamon, saffron, cardamom, and chili; and nostalgic British classics such as beef Wellington, roasts, jellies, and trifles. Spa and gym: There is no gym or pool but each suite is equipped with a core toner, weights, resistance band, jump rope, yoga mat and workout book. Massages are available.
Who's it for: The high concentration of game in the crater and the high comfort of accommodations make this an ideal spot for first-time safari goers, as well as those who prefer lodges to mobile sleeping arrangements. Our favorite rooms: Tree camp, the smallest of the three sub-camps, with six suites, is perched highest on the crater rim. Plan ahead: For those who will be game viewing elsewhere on safari, it’s enough to budget one full day traveling by vehicle within Ngorongoro Crater. Plan to go between December and March to witness the wildebeest migration calving season in southern Serengeti National Park, or in late May and June for wildflowers. Mornings and evenings can be cool and misty year-round, so dress in layers and avoid dark colors—they attract tsetse flies.