Editors' Picks

Ngorongoro Crater Lodge

Baroque in the Bush

B 144, Ngorongoro, Tanzania


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At a Glance

This lodge on the rim of the Ngoronogoro Crater mixes tribal with palatial for an unforgettable take on living grandly in the wild.

Indagare Loves

  • The stunning bathrooms with views on to the Crater
  • The gracious staff who makes you feel so at home
  • The fireplaces in the bedrooms that are set for you so you can go to sleep and wake up by fire light


Safari means “voyage” or “journey” in Swahili but it was also the name of my butler when I stayed at the Ngorongoro Crater Lodge. On my first morning, Safari arrived at my sumptuous rondavel suite set on the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater. He was bearing a tray with a silver coffeepot and a plate of fresh ginger biscuits. While I remained in the enormous wooden four-poster bed that had been hand-carved in Dar es Saleem, he laid logs in the fireplace. I have stayed in some extravagant palaces in France and Italy, but even though this suite had a thatch roof and log stilts, it definitely ranks as one of the most sumptuous I’ve seen. From the ceiling lined in banana leaves hung a dazzling crystal chandelier. In the vast bathroom, under another chandelier, a huge porcelain tub sat on polished wood floors, and next to it was an urn that was refilled with dozens of red roses daily. The design scheme has been called Maasai Versailles, Rococo Ethnic and Bush Baroque for the way that the lavish is accentuated by the raw to astonishing effect. Imagine gilt mirrors artfully hung to reflect your porch with tree-branch railings and a view into one of the natural wonders of the world, the Ngorongoro Crater. Or awaking under a deep purple suede bedspread to see zebras out the window. The fact that within one hour I opened my door to greet my butler and to see a Cape buffalo only yards away sums up the dichotomy of the experience.

Ngorongoro Crater Lodge was the first major splash that the South African based company &Beyond made outside of their native country. Set on the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater, one of the natural wonders of the world, three separate camps (two with 12 suites each and one with 6 suites) now occupy the grounds of a former British governor’s hunting retreat. The 30 suites resemble Maasai mud huts from the outside but their interiors proclaim that 21st century comforts can be dished up with flair in the wild. Silk curtains, velvet upholstery and damask tablecloths in the dining room emphasize luxury. The libraries at each camp have stately stone fireplaces, gorgeous wood paneling crafted by carvers from nearby Zanzibar and massive sofas that, with their Mulberry fabrics and tasseled pillows, look plucked from an estate in England. Despite the decadent touches, though, whimsy wins out, with fertility statues grinning from mantelpieces and Calderesque mobiles made of horns and found objects hanging in a bathroom draped with psychedelic purple curtains. The house spirit seems to be an eccentric landowner who is as rich in heirlooms as he is in humor. Because each lodge runs along a different level of the crater, they feel intimate. You may spend your day on game drives into the Crater, around the protected Ngorongoro concession or up to the Olduvai Gorge and only meet fellow guests at cocktail time. (Except, of course, in the Crater, where it’s hard to avoid game vehicles by noon.) In the public areas of the lodges, the leather backgammon sets, crystal decanters filled with brandy and well-thumbed guest books scattered around help to break the ice between strangers if the managers happen to be occupied. **

Additional activities on offer include private meals on the Crater floor, Maasai dancing and drumming evenings, walks in the Empaki Crater, private wine tastings, and visits to the Olduvai Gorge, one of the most important paleoanthropological sites in the world, home to some of the first human remains. As &Beyond supports a variety of community and conservation projects in the area, it is sometimes possible to partake in philanthropic tours.

**Tip:**There are four family suites in the camp available to children 15 and under, but they get reserved quickly so be sure to request one as soon as possible.

Who Should Stay

Those who like to be wowed by wilderness and wildly extravagant interiors. You can see the Big Five in the Crater and feel like the Big Cheese in your suite.

Written by Melissa Biggs Bradley

What's Nearby
Indagare employees walking up stiars

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