The Ngorongoro Crater Lodge was the perfect compromise between the safari I craved, and the comfort I needed.
The Ngorongoro Crater Lodge is located in Tanzania on the edge of the world famous World Heritage Site of the Ngorongoro Crater. Within the crater, the animals have their own migration independent from the rest of Tanzania, which means you have a much higher chance of seeing animals on safari drives. Surrounding the lodge, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area spans 3,200 square miles, stretching from the Rift Valley to the Serengeti. I have never seen as many elephants as I did on this journey! Our keen-eyed game driver spotted so many different animals, and from our vantage point we could enjoy watching them without fear. The safari aspect was truly amazing. The crater had the atmosphere of an exotic and fascinating outdoor zoo. Because the animals are contained in the crater and the drivers are limited to driving on the paths, it was not as adventurous as the other safaris I have made. Yet somehow, despite this limitation, I would consider this one of the most exciting travel adventures I have been on.
All that excitement pales in comparison to the absolute luxury of the Ngorongoro Crater Lodge itself. The individual lodges (your suite) are built in the style of the Maasai indigenous to the area, which means they are small and round and generally unexciting from the outside. Yet somehow, the staff at the Crater Lodge managed to make the entire experience amazing. On return from the game drive, the Lodge would have already drawn a hot bath for you, so you coukd get out of the chilly Land Rover and straight into a bathtub with rose petals on top – the ultimate luxury. The bath was almost in the center in the room, which added to the feel of luxury of the experience. I felt like the ambience of the Lodge was the type of luxury I could get used to – fabulously furnished rooms with nice little extras, such as decanters of sherry, chocolates at night before a cosy log fire, and lavish amounts of beautiful red roses to create a warm ambience.
My absolute favorite part of the lodge, however, was how, even though we were on the edge of the crater, we were still in the middle of the jungle. You were escorted everywhere by local tribesmen because it was too dangerous to leave your cabin on your own. The local tribesmen who accompanied you usually wore their traditional garb, as well as western combat boots and a machine gun. At first I found the combination incongruous, but I was eventually comforted by the fact that the Maasi have been protecting their people from the dangers of the crater for centuries.