“A charmingly simple hilltop lodge in a great location near Ngorongoro, with a real community mission”
Built from indigenous hardwood, in traditional African style, the main building is wrapped by an open veranda, with stools and easy chairs to soak up the glorious view over a sundowner beer. Staff are instantly wonderful, rushing out to welcome you with big smiles, cold towels and freshly squeezed juice; it feels good to be here. Out back are 15 Tented Houses: simple but attractive, with bright linens and private verandas. They are not luxurious, but life’s little pleasures are all in place: hot showers, comfy beds, even hot-water bottles at night. And after you rise to a delicious organic breakfast and piping hot coffee before an early-morning game drive in the Crater, you'll leave with a smile on your face - even at 5.30am.
- A great budget option - including this lodge in your itinerary will lower the cost of your overall safari holiday
- Ngorongoro has the highest density of animals in Africa (the Serengeti migration passes through here May-October); we saw masses of lions, hippos and zebra, and, thrillingly, a rhino
- Good, imaginative food, most of it from Rhotia’s organic vegetable garden or supplied by local farmers
- The cosy lounge with its wicker sofas and open fireplace, which you’ll appreciate in the evenings as you’re 1700m above sea level
- By staying here you directly contribute to The Rhotia Valley Children’s Home, which sits on an adjacent hilltop. It’s heart-warming to see the kids out playing, and you can visit if you want
- You may get some creepy crawlies in your tent. We had a scary large spider, but staff cheerfully removed it for us
- Noise travels between the tents; bring earplugs if you’re a light sleeper
- Much more basic than our other safari lodges - this is by no means luxurious - but you’ll be very comfortable, and it's great to know that the lodge's profits help such a fantastic cause
Best time to go
Our top tips
- Tented Lodge
- Restaurant and bar (open daily)
- All ages welcome
- Open all year
- Outdoor Pool
- Spa Treatments
- Pet Friendly
- Disabled Access
- Beach Nearby
- Off-street Parking
- Restaurants Nearby
- Air Conditioning
- Guest Lounge
- Bicycles Available
The 15 Tented Houses (stilted, thatch-roofed platforms with a tent inside) are set along winding paths, beside the organic vegetable garden. At night, these paths are lit by paraffin lamps, but staff will escort you to and from the main lodge, in case there are animals around.
Inside, each tent is identical. There’s a large main bedroom area with beds and a wicker armchair, plus a veranda with 2 planter-style chairs and a wooden log table, and a partitioned-off bathroom area. Most tents have 1 or 2 double beds, but there are 2 family tents with a double and 2 singles. Beds are comfy, covered in hand-sewn linens and strewn with fresh flowers on your arrival. While you eat dinner, a hot-water bottle will be tucked between your sheets, and there are blankets to keep you warm during the colder months. There are solar-powered electricity points, so you can charge your camera and phone, and there are bedside lights, plus torches in case you need them. We loved sitting out on our veranda, soaking up the incredible view.
Bathrooms are spacious, and although they are not luxurious, you do get a hot-water shower, locally-made soap, piles of orange towels and a flushing toilet.
- Cots Available
- Hot water bottles
- Internet access
Meals are served in the lovely dining room in the main lodge and you can opt for full- or half-board options. In the evenings it looks gorgeous; candlelit tables, little braziers, and the flickering firelight from the lounge beyond. There are blankets to wrap around yourselves if you get cold. Tables are set up for groups of 2-12 (there are often safari groups staying), and are laid with white napkins and cool animal-print salt and pepper holders.
The food is largely organic from the lodge’s own garden, or from local farms. Whilst it’s not gourmet it’s very good, and imaginative; a 3-course set formula. Perhaps root vegetable soup to start, a spicy meat stew with potatoes for main, and a fruit tart for dessert.
Breakfast can be taken as early as you want, so you can get on the road for your dawn game drive. We loved the banana pancakes, and the Tanzania omelette, with its chilli kick. Juices are freshly squeezed, and there are big Thermoses of tea and coffee to help yourselves to.
Lunches are packed, eaten out on game drives. These consist of a number of tasty treats - a box of juice, water, a boiled egg, pieces of fruit, a calzone or samosa, pancakes, quiche or pizza, and a sandwich.
- All meals included
- Organic produce
- Vegetarian menu
- You’re here to see the magnificent Ngorongoro Crater, a 30-minute drive away. We spent a day in this volcanic caldera, from dawn to 4pm, and saw a vast range of animals, including elephant herds, masses of lions, giraffes, zebras, wildebeest and scores of flamingos on the lake. The highlights? 2 lions chasing off a wild dog, hippos basking in mud, a lioness on the prowl, and a rhino in the distance
- Lake Manyara is close (30 minutes), home to a host of migratory birds, including flamingos, eagles and kingfishers. Its National Park is also good for spotting wildlife - we saw lots of impalas, wildebeest, and elephant families with 2-week old babies
- Further afield, but do-able on a day trip, Tarangire National Park is fantastic. During the dry season, heaps of animals throng the river (waterbuck, giraffes, elephants, zebras) and the landscape is diverse and unusual, with Baobab trees, dense bush and high grasses. However, Tarangire is probably most famous for its tree-climbing lions, an unforgettable sight
- Back at the lodge, take a guided walk into the Ngorongoro Forest, and hike down to the Crater rim (a tough but rewarding 6-hour walk) or follow the river to find bush waterfalls. If you’re lucky, you might spot wild elephants and buffalo on route (the guides are armed!)
- Or take a guided cultural walk to Rhotia Village and get an insight into local customs and traditions, family and farm life. The local kids love meeting wazungu (white folk)
- Visit the Rhotia Valley Children’s Home on the adjacent hilltop and join in a soccer match or help them with their homework. By staying at Rhotia Valley Tented Lodge, you directly contribute to their welfare and education
- After all that exploring, laze by the large infinity pool which overlooks the valley
Activities on site or nearby include:
- Historical sites
- Mountain biking
- Plantlife / flora
- Private guided tours
- Traditional cultures
Children of all ages are welcome at the lodge, but you'd need to keep a close eye on toddlers as the tents are on raised platforms. Safari is best suited to 6+ year olds. Children aged 6-12 are charged 50% of the adult rate when sharing with 2 adults.
Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)
Family friendly accommodation:
There are 2 family tents with a double bed and 2 single beds.
Baby cots are available
Remember baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking
Kids Activities nearby:
Older children can play football with the orphans