Ngorongoro Crater Lodge has been called the game lodge at the top of the world. Between the natural riches of the Crater spread out at its feet and the incredible architecture, it’s easy to believe that you have entered a realm of pure fantasy.
Nearly three million years old, the ancient caldera shelters one of the most beautiful wildlife havens on earth. Endangered black rhino are protected within its rim, giant tusked elephant wander the forests, male lion stalk the grasslands and flamingo crowd the soda lakes.
Nowhere else on earth can you wake up among all the trappings of an elegant baroque châteaux that transports you into one of the most famous African landscapes.
An eclectic blend of teak panelling, Victorian furnishings and whimsical African touches creates a sumptuous atmosphere that is as elegant and unique as the Crater itself.
In this place of dramatic contrasts, anything is possible and the natural luxury of the beautiful setting ensures the dramatic interior of your suite blends perfectly with its stilted thatch architecture.
Divided into three camps, 30 suites with banana leaf ceilings and grass roofs provide an intimate and exclusive experience. Each camp has its own sitting and dining areas, with private butlers who provide warm, personal service.
With ever-changing views as mists swirl over the huge wildlife cauldron below, the location is truly breathtaking. Guests can be forgiven for losing track of which era, or even continent, they are experiencing at this lodge.
Everything is chosen to delight the imagination and enhance the spectacular views of the magnificent surroundings.
STEEPED IN ROMANCE
Watch and listen to the chant of Maasai warriors, overlooking the game-rich Crater as the sun goes down, or enjoy a wine tasting in the wine store. Personal butlers discretely cater for each guest’s every need, bringing tea in bed, stoking fireplaces and drawing bubble baths.
ACTIVE AND CULTURE BUFFS
This area is steeped in history, culture and diversity. Indulge in a feast at a private picnic spot on the Crater floor. Put on your hiking boots for three amazing hikes; spend a morning with the Hadzabe people; visit the cradle of mankind at Olduvai Gorge or indulge in a massage.
FACE OF LION CONSERVATION
Interact with the KopeLion conservation team to get a deeper understanding of their day to day operations and what it is really like for the Maasai to live side by side with wildlife. Discover how these conservationists are fostering lion-people coexistence.
THAT MAGNIFICENT VIEW…
Lodge experiences at Ngorongoro Crater, the world’s largest intact caldera, are designed to ensure you soak up the spectacular views. Watch the sunset to the chant of the Maasai, swathed in bright red shukkas (traditional fabric), or soak in your bathtub.
Guests of &BEYOND Ngorongoro Crater Lodge have the opportunity to interact with the KopeLion conservation team to get a deeper understanding of their day to day operations and what it is really like for the Maasai to live side by side with wildlife.
These experiences have to be booked in advance, and all generate a donation to KopeLion. Enjoy half a day with the KopeLion team and discover how these dedicated conservationists are fostering lion-people coexistence within the Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA).
Working closely with local communities, they are creating a sustainable ‘corridor of tolerance’ that will re-connect the divided Crater and Serengeti lion sub-populations, ensuring their long-term survival.
This insightful experience will give you the opportunity to understand the challenges and complexities of wildlife and human coexistence. Accompanied by a KopeLion researcher, you’ll start with a short walk to check on one of the Panthera camera traps.
Then you’ll be driven through Maasai villages, and a diversity of habitats, from the lush Crater rim, through sparse grasslands, and into a beautiful secluded forest spot.
Here you’ll meet one of the KopeLion ‘Ilchokuti’ (lion guardians) who will talk about his work that entails both working with the local communities, and protecting lions.
A Crater-floor banquet with KopeLion
Dine in style on the magnificent Crater floor with the KopeLion conservation team, and learn all about this fascinating, essential initiative.
In this interactive forum, a lion researcher will regale you with stories of these mighty predators, and explain the committed efforts of the KopeLion team to eliminate human-lion conflict along a ‘corridor of tolerance’ linking the Crater to the Serengeti. All your questions are welcomed.
Pre-dinner drinks with KopeLion
Unwind after a thrilling day of game viewing with a bottle of fine wine, or some French champagne, and share some time with the KopeLion conservationists.
This intimate setting lends itself perfectly to an interactive presentation by the KopeLion researchers, followed by an exchange of questions and answers about the invaluable work they are doing to eliminate human-lion conflict along a ‘corridor of tolerance’ linking the Crater to the Serengeti.
This is a perfect opportunity to get a full understanding of the work they are doing, and their commitment to a sustainable solution.
Corridors of tolerance
The first objective of KopeLion is to establish ‘corridors of tolerance’: areas that allow free movement of lion populations between the Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti, ensuring both their genetic diversity and long-term survival.
For generations, lions and the Maasai have lived alongside each other in uneasy proximity. This is a new chapter in this relationship – a time when communities become active partners in these conservation goals.
Community lion guardians
Local warriors, Ilchokuti, are lion guardians whose primary mandate is to prevent the hunting of lions through a range of proactive measures. These include patrolling and safeguarding their allocated areas of responsibility within the greater Serengeti.
They alert communities to the presence of lions, search for lost livestock, fortify livestock enclosures, and assist with wounded livestock. These much-revered ambassadors, are in essence lion warriors, committed to the sustainability of these magnificent animals.
The essence of a cultural visit to the Hadzabe bushmen
Spend the day with the Hadzabe people, ancient hunter-gatherers who inhabit the land near Lake Eyasi, a gorgeous soda lake that’s part of the Great Rift Valley of East Africa, and witness their unchanged, traditional way of life and harmony with the earth.
Accompanied throughout by an &BEYOND ranger, guests have the opportunity to engage with the Bushmen and learn all about their time-honoured hunting techniques, survival skills, food preparation and cultural norms.
A veritable step back in time, this is an undeniably authentic cultural journey into rural Tanzania that reveals the untold world of these charismatic people.
Amongst the world’s last remaining hunter-gatherer tribes inhabiting the scrubby bushland, Hadzabe men search for food alone, and return home with golden honey, sweet fruit, or hearty wild game when, and if available.
Women go out in large groups and forage for bright berries, baobab fruit, and tubers, depending on availability. In the rainy, wet season, sweet honey is the main staple of their diet along with colourful fruit, tubers, and sometimes meat.
Adjusting their diets to the seasons this tribe are incredibly skilled, selective and opportunistic seekers and searchers. They have only themselves to rely on to feed their families and tribe.
The essence of a full day Empakai Crater hike
This full-day hike explores the dramatic Empakaai Crater. With a lake on the Crater floor and the entire caldera encircled by a steep, densely forested wall, Empakaai is a scene of vast natural beauty. On clear days the Crater offers views of Ol Doinyo Lengai, Tanzania’s most recently active volcano.
The steep slope calls for a degree of fitness, but the walk through the lush forest, with its ancient strangler figs and rich birdlife, is well worth the effort. The trail continues to the lakeshore, where you can view water birds such as flamingo.
A caved in volcanic caldera, Empakaai Crater stands at 300 metres in height and more than six kilometres in width. Rippling at its heart is Empakaai Lake, an 85 metre deep alkaline pool that envelops three quarters of the crater’s floor.
Standing at Empakai Crater’s imposing rim, you can see landmarks, such as the distant fleecy snows of Kilimanjaro far on the eastern side of the Valley, the Great Rift Valley, and Ol Doinyo Lengai volcano.
Along your hiking sojourn, while taking in the glorious sights, you are sure to spot a profusion of animals including blue monkeys, buffalo, bush bucks, water bucks, and an extensive array of kaleidoscopic bird life.
The essence of a lunch banquet on the Crater floor
Indulge in a gourmet feast served in one of the most unique settings in Africa. Descend into the scenic landscape of the Ngorongoro Crater and enjoy the incredible density of wildlife before making your way to a private picnic spot on the Crater floor.
Tables set with snowy tablecloths and sparkling silver cutlery are laden with the most delectable of dishes. An army of butlers’ springs into action to attend to your every wish as you indulge in a mouth-watering meal served against the backdrop of groups of zebra strolling along the Crater floor.
Enveloped with a tangle of wild plants the steep slopes of an extinct volcano in northern Tanzania, betray little of what lies inside the crater wall. Known as “the garden of Eden” or “the cradle of life”, the crater floor is dotted dark, only when the spots of shifting formations begin to move, does it become clear.
Massive amounts of grazing wildebeest and zebras and in the shallow Crater Lake pirouette huge flocks of bright pink flamingos. One of the largest concentrations of wildlife in Africa, the list of species existing in the Ngorongoro Crater is enormous.
One can find 50 different species of large mammals, including lions, elephants, rhinos, hippos, giraffes, eland, impala, baboons, warthogs and hyenas.
Boasting such a diverse variety of animals in the relatively small space of this beautiful crater, with its lush green grasses and stunning blue water, you will have a few inquisitive eyes wanting to know what you are having for dinner!
The essence of a safari game drive
Game drives descend into the Ngorongoro Crater through a lush highland forest, with magnificent birdlife to be spotted among the different tree species. Once on the grassy crater floor, you may discover a large variety of grazing herbivores, as well as the predators that are attracted by this abundant supply of prey.
Depending on the time of year, you may see huge flocks of pink flamingo around the shores of the shallow Lake Magadi, while the surrounding swamp is inhabited by hippo. Safari vehicles are closed, with glass windows and a pop-up roof. Off-road driving is not permitted.
The crater has formed its own ecosystem due to its enclosed nature, and is one place where you can certainly tick all the boxes. Sublime scenery, abundant wildlife, it’s very own distinctive.
Lerai Forest comprised of yellow fever trees and Lake Magadi, a shallow soda lake. Roam to the east and you will find Gorigor Swamp and the Ngoitokitok Springs where happy pods of hippo can be found. The north of the Crater is where the bulk of the resident game resides thanks to the drier, open grasslands.
If you are after the ‘The Big Five’, it is all here waiting for you. Black rhino, Tusker elephants, lion, leopard and hyena along with healthy herds of wildebeest, buffalo and zebra.
Other wildlife includes serval cat, cheetah, jackal, Grant’s and Thompson’s gazelle, flamingo and bat-eared foxes, as well as approximately 400 species of colourful birds
Tour Of Olduvai Gorge
Visit the world famous archaeological site of Olduvai Gorge, also known as the Cradle of Mankind. The earliest remains of homo sapiens were discovered here by Mary Leaky and anyone with an interest in mankind’s ancestors will be fascinated by this extraordinary place.
Explore the quaint little museum and marvel at the rugged landscape. This paleoanthropological site in the eastern Serengeti Plain is a steep-sided ravine composed of two branches that have a combined length of about 48 km and are 90 metres deep.
Deposits exposed in the sides of the gorge cover have yielded a treasure trove of fossil remains. Move on to the Shifting Sands, a remarkable dune of volcanic ash appearing completely out of place on the short grassy plains.
Constantly on the move, the dune drifts slowly across the landscape at the mercy of the prevailing winds. Intriguing and utterly fascinating phenomena, these crescent-shaped dunes, created from volcanic ash, are formed when there’s ample dust on the ground and a unidirectional wind to create the shifting effect.
Clustering around a rock, the volcanic ash continually gathers and forms what appears to be a small sand dune.