If you’re planning a safari trip to Tanzania then you have probably figured out that a day in the Ngorongoro Crater cannot be missed. This magical place has some of the best views in the world, providing memories that are guaranteed to last a lifetime.
Without a doubt, one of the best places to stay is the Ngorongoro Serena Safari Lodge, where you are as close as you can be to this UNESCO World Heritage Site and ‘8th Wonder of the World.’
If you’re still trying to decide on the best choice of accommodation, then this full review will provide you with everything you need to know about before you book.
Ngorongoro Crater Accommodation Options
When searching for places to stay near the Ngorongoro Crater you’ll have several options, including hotels, lodges, tented camps, B&B’s, and homestays.
As the Ngorongoro Crater is a National Conservation Area there are no lodgings inside the crater, so the closest you can be is on the rim. There are only a handful of lodges here, with Ngorongoro Serena Safari Lodge having a prime spot.
The remaining options will normally be in Karatu, around a one-hour drive away from the Ngorongoro Entry Gates.
READ: Travelling to Zanzibar during COVID-19? Here’s what you need to know
When looking for accommodation within this price range there are two things vying for your attention.
1. Complete comfort in luxurious surroundings
2. Astronomical views from your room.
Ngorongoro Serena Safari Lodge cannot be beaten on the latter.
The first thing you will notice about Ngorongoro Serena Safari Lodge is the outstanding construction of hand-laid boulder walls, seamlessly blended and entwined with its natural surroundings.
It is impossible to get tired of admiring this work of art, which provides endless opportunities to take some amazing photos and create lasting memories.
The superb thing is, you’ll find the lodge difficult to spot, even from a fairly close distance. That’s how well it fits in with its surroundings.
Now, if you’re keen on 5-star luxury facilities and amenities, then Ngorongoro Serena Safari Lodge may not be for you. However, in terms of some of the most spectacular views you’ll ever see in your life – you’ll be hard-pressed to find better.
It’s not pretentious or formal and is a fantastic place if views, comfort, great food, and easy access to the crater are top priorities for you.
The number one selling point of Ngorongoro Serena Safari Lodge is the location.
Sitting at the edge of the rim, you will find it difficult to prise yourself away from the several viewing platforms available to you. You’ll want to make sure that if you’re only staying for one night, you arrive in plenty of time for sunset and get up a little early to catch the beautiful sunrise.
Distances From Ngorongoro Serena Safari Lodge:
- Ngorongoro Entry Gates: 15-minute drive from the lodge, meaning that ridiculously early wake-up calls are unnecessary when staying here!
- Central Serengeti: Dependant on road conditions, this usually takes around 3 hours on a slow drive
- Arusha: The starting point for most safaris, the drive from Arusha is around 3.5 hours if roads are clear
- Karatu Village: 1 hour away drive away
- Lake Manyara Airstrip: If you are taking a domestic flight Lake Manyara is the nearest airstrip, 1 hour and 15 minutes drive away
Rooms at Ngorongoro Serena Safari Lodge
If you are used to staying in high-end luxury resorts then you may think that the rooms at Ngorongoro Serena Safari Lodge look a little outdated for total comfort.
The truth is, the rooms provide absolutely everything you would ever need for a one or two-night stay in Ngorongoro.
When researching accommodation options, one of the top priorities for us was ensuring that we could have a nice hot shower on demand with good water pressure – something that is not consistent throughout Ngorongoro.
The showers at Ngorongoro Serena Safari Lodge are perfect, and so was everything else for that matter. The bathroom is huge with loads of wardrobe space on either side.
The rooms are spacious, rustic, and really provide that feel for Africa that is difficult to achieve in sleek luxury resorts.
There is no need to worry about mosquitoes. At an altitude of 2,300 meters, the little bleeters can’t survive at this height!
All 75 rooms have panoramic views via a private balcony and on a clear night, the stars are just out of this world. The higher you go, the better this gets.
All rooms include:
- Free Wifi
- Tea/Coffee Facilities
- Bottled Water
- Desk and Chair
- Private balcony
- Bathrobe and Slippers
- Eco Boutique Toiletries
Oh, and the hot water bottle at turndown service is just amazing!
READ MORE: The Perfect Safari Packing List
Food and dining
We didn’t have high expectations for the food at Ngorongoro Serena Safari Lodge but we were very pleasantly surprised!
It also didn’t hurt that we could enjoy fantastic views into the crater whilst tucking in (we can’t stop talking about this!)
Full board is included in your stay
6.30 am – 9.30 am: Buffet style offering full English breakfast or Continental options. If you want to enter the crater first thing at 6am then a packed breakfast can be arranged on request.
12.30 pm – 2.30 pm: Buffet style with meat, poultry, fish, and vegetarian options. Most people who are out on a game drive will opt for a picnic lunch to make the most of the crater, but returning to the lodge is also an option.
7.30 pm – 9.30 pm: Great menu offering a variety of delicious courses including biscuits and cheese.
All meals can cater to any special requirements when given advanced notice.
Drinks are reasonably priced considering your location. You can expect to pay around $4 for a soft drink and $9 for a glass of wine.
Oh, and the staff are absolutely adorable and willing to go the extra mile to make sure you have everything you need whilst managing to put a smile on your face every step of the way!
Ngorongoro Serena Experiences and Activities
Ngorongoro Serena Safari Lodge offers a wide range of experiences and activities you can take advantage of. Prices vary dependent on season and availability and inquiries can be made directly or through your safari tour guide.
Crater Game Drives
Explore the natural sanctuary for over 25,000 animals, including the black rhino (also a conservation area inhabited by the Maasai tribe)
Either a picnic in one of the forest clearings or as a full cooked lunch cooked and served in the acacia groves
Sundowners on the Crater Rim
Drive to a scenic spot on the rim of the crater with chairs, lamps, a campfire, and a bush bar with cocktail snacks set up (musical entertainment can also be provided)
Bush Dinner (summer only)
Begins with sundowners around the campfire where guests will be entertained with a Maasai dance and song. A 5-course dinner is prepared on the charcoal barbecue
Maasai Villages and Cattle Markets
Visit Maasai villages that belong to the National Cultural Tourism Program
Guided Nature Walks around the Crater Rim
90-minute wildlife walks around the lodge and crater rim with resident naturalists. Morning and evening walks are offered where you can see an array of bird species, wildlife, plants, and flowers with spectacular views of the crater floor below
Crater Rim Hike
Two-hour walk through the diverse landscapes of the crater highlands escorted by a ranger. Opportunities to view various wildlife and interact with Maasai along the way.
Pros and Cons of Ngorongoro Serena Safari Lodge
Every single accommodation option that is thoroughly researched will inevitably bring up pros and cons. Here are the top things to consider for Ngorongoro Serena Safari Lodge.
- Absolutely stunning views of the crater from every corner
- 15-minute drive from entry gates
- Very clean and comfortable rooms
- Great food
- Perfect shower with hot running water on demand
- Mosquitos will not bother you at this altitude
- Very helpful staff
- Does not provide 5-star luxury surroundings
- Common areas can become overcrowded in peak season
- It can get very cold in winter at high altitude
- There are lots of stairs and no elevators
- Grounds are not suitable for those with accessibility requirements
Do I Need Travel Insurance For Ngorongoro?
Absolutely. This is not because Ngorongoro poses any more risk than other destinations but because you want to limit the level of inconvenience or trauma should the unexpected happen. Medical treatment and emergency transportation can be extremely expensive in Tanzania.
Without a doubt, this is our favorite place to search for Travel Insurance. They have policies that can provide cover for COVID-19-related issues, just be sure to check out whether they have a 5-star rating.
COVID-19 insurance cover is absolutely essential if you’re booking any travel over the next 12 months. Take a good look at the conditions to see what you’re willing to accept. Making sure that you’re covered for medical treatments should take priority over cover for holiday cancellations.
READ: Want to know how to do Affordable Luxury Travel? Check out these top tips!
Our Ngorongoro Serena Safari Lodge Review
Choosing where to stay in Ngorongoro can be a difficult task and you’ll have to decide between complete luxury vs outstanding views into the crater.
If you’re more interested in taking away memories of one of the most amazing views you will have ever seen, then the decision becomes a slightly easier one.
We hope this review of Ngorongoro Serena Safari Lodge has helped make the process a little easier for you!
Did you enjoy this review? Take a look at some of our other articles about trips to Ngorongoro and the Serengeti!