Sometimes called the Versailles of Africa, Ngorongoro Crater is too big, too decadent to be considered an eco-lodge, but it is a truly splendid piece of accommodation. A wood, stone and thatch build, it is divided into 3 sub-lodges – North, South and, further downhill, Tree – and can accommodate up to 60 guests. This sounds a lot, and it is, but each part of the lodge is largely self-sufficient, and possesses its own lounge, dining room, bar, library and veranda.
FOOD AND SERVICE
The food and service are first class. Breakfast is buffet (cereals, fruit and cooked), lunch either buffet or picnic and dinner is silver service. Feedback with regards to the quality of the food is unremittingly good. The floor service is polished, and each room comes with a personal butler, while management is personable and always quick to right a (rare) problem.
Approached by a set of wooden steps that fall through a garden, Tree is smaller than North and South, and its interiors are correspondingly cosier. Velvet covered seating, large antique mirrors and African art combine to create an opulent, extravagant atmosphere. North and South are equally aristocratic, only more spacious, more open, and there is greater room therefore with which to work in the mammoth sized mirrors, silk curtains and large sofas. Please note that the Wi-Fi is quickest in the communal areas.
Inspired by Masaai manyattas, the rooms are raised circular stone and thatch constructs whose oversized chimneys give the buildings an attractive slightly out-of-kilter look. Whereas, from the outside, the rooms are deliberately unfinished (beneath their soil red paint the walls are visibly packed with mud), the interiors are the complete opposite: modern and chic. The wooden floors are a deep polished brown, the beds enormous and wonderfully comfortable, and there is even a seating area arranged about an open log fire. The bathrooms – chandelier, free standing bath, twin sink, flush toilet and shower – could grace the pages of Vogue.
Activities at Ngorongoro Crater Lodge include wildlife drives (in regulation close sided vehicles), guided walks, bird watching and excursions to Olduvai Gorge and surrounding areas.
&Beyond’s conservation strategy focuses on preservation of endangered species, through conservation, translocation and breeding programs. They actively manage over 28,000 hectares of pristine wilderness and have trans-located 77 Rhinos from South Africa to the relative safety of Botswana. In 2017 &Beyond ran over 5,600 conservation lessons for both adults and children, and have completed over 44 research programmes.
An average of 77% of the Ngorongoro Crater Lodge staff are recruited from local communities, and roughly 92% of goods are purchased locally.
&Beyond takes development seriously, and in 2017 had 258 training interventions with community members and provided in lodge training for over 192 trainees. In the past year 7 bursaries were granted through the Community Leaders Education Fund bursary.