Suspended on the jagged rim of the Ngorongoro Crater, with sweeping panoramic views of the crater floor, is the Ngorongoro Serena Lodge. Cloaked in morning mist and dense forest, the stone built lodge blends in beautifully with its natural surroundings. As your land rover navigates the rocky road leading up to the Ngorongoro Serena Lodge, keep an eye open for resident elephants known to leisurely much on leafy greens - right in the lodge's backyard!
The exterior of the buildings, as well as many of the interior walls and massive vertical columns, are wrapped in smooth boulder-like lava rocks that climb to the top of the soaring ceilings and wreath the arched entrances of the main hallways. Much of the stonework outside is draped in moss or ivy and the lush gardens surrounding the lodge compliment its overall appearance. Take a step back in time as you peruse the prehistorically themed interior of the lodge, lit by lanterns and firelight. The passages are decorated with wooden carvings, Maasai artifacts and tribal spears. Delightful "cave-wall" paintings of animals are charmingly stained on the textured stucco walls of the main dining room, as well as each individual sleeping room.
Crackling fire places inside the common areas add warmth to the "mountain lodge" atmosphere, and are especially cozy since the temperatures outside can be quite chilly at this elevation. Gaze at the jaw-dropping views of the crater floor offered from majestic picture windows that line the lounge and dining room, or better yet from the seclusion of your room's own private balcony; each individual room offers its own stunning view of the retired volcanic cauldron below. From its ideal hilltop location, the lodge's panoramic visual of the crater floor and sparkling soda lake below is both breathtaking and surreal.
The Ngorongoro Crater itself is a dramatic amphitheatre of life, surrounded by the steep jagged walls of the collapsed volcano that created it. So you've gotten up early and asked the staff to pack a picnic breakfast to not miss any action? Good choice! There is a special atmosphere in the crater at the light of dawn not to be missed. You'll notice the top of the rim is chilly and clad with mist in the early morning. As your land rover descends the winding road from the top of the ridge to the crater floor, you'll gradually emerge from the clouds and notice a steady shift in both temperature and scenery.
The leafy forest and morning chill are slowly but surely replaced by sparser vegetation and warmer air. Eventually the landscape melds into the tawny grasslands of the crater floor, which are teeming with big game. Early morning in the crater is a time of spellbinding beauty and special solitude (since many of the less ambitious tourists are still sleeping.) Luminous clouds that hung low in the night now roll dramatically above and pile up against the emerald crater wall, just not quite high enough to escape the rising sun. Shafts of morning sunlight filter through the billowing clouds and create bold shadows that shift and dance below. As the sun rises the air continues to warm. The whistling breeze sweeps down the steep walls and over the grasses at the crater floor, seeming to whisper of ancient memories of the fiery volcanoes that created this mythical place.
There is dramatic scenery to behold here, and yes the geological history is very intriguing, but the real stars of this show are the ANIMALS! For as far as the eye can see, you will be surrounded by generously sized herds of all types of animals, all taking haven in what has been called "Africa's Garden of Eden." Gazelles and buffalo, wildebeest and zebra, elephant and even the rare black rhino live in concentrated numbers here. There is a realistic chance that you will actually be able to see cheetahs hunting in such a confined area. The lions in the crater are certainly not tame, but they are somewhat used to vehicles, and you may just find them seeking shade in the shadow of your land rover! Hyenas and other smaller carnivores like the serval cat also make this beautiful place home.
Travel to the western edge of the crater and enter the magical Lerai forest. Ancient trees draped in vines rise up from a deep leafy carpet of ferns and wide banners of tropical leaves. Look for sly leopards perched high in the tree boughs, hiding in the leaves and dappled light. Also watch for elephants ambling through shady thickets. Emerge from the forest and keep your eyes open for a sighting of the rare black rhino! During a delightful picnic lunch you'll be able to stretch those legs and watch for hippos spouting water in the spring pool nearby. As the sun continues to rise throughout the day, you'll want to shed that sweater and maybe peel off those zippered pant-legs. Get your cameras ready as you journey to the sparkling soda lake and witness thousands of pink flamingoes preening and reflecting in the still waters - a fantastic sight.
After a thrilling day on safari in the crater, gather around a roaring fireplace in the lounge and share stories of charging rhinos, leaping lions and trumpeting elephants. The day's adventures have surely worked up an appetite, and a feast fit for a king is served buffet style in the main dining room. With such a varied display of fresh and delicious foods, everyone will find something that suits their craving. Retreat to your room with a drink or just collapse into your cozy bed from the excitement of the day's activities and lose yourself in fantastic safari dreams.
The Ngorongoro Serena Lodge consists of 75 comfortable and spacious rooms. These rooms are elegant and well appointed with classy leather headboards, brass lamps, simple nightstands and a quaint writing desk. Charming sketches, or "cave paintings", of African animals are featured on the pale stucco walls in true tribal style. Each room has a separate bathroom that boasts a contemporary vanity, hairdryer and spacious walk-in shower. Accommodations at this lodge are heated, making for a very comfortable "climate controlled" stay in spite of the lodge's lofty elevation and correspondingly low temperatures, especially at night. The highlight of each sleeping room is the private stone terrace, accessed by full glass doors, that offers sweeping views of the crater floor below and blue mountain ranges in the hazy distance. See if you can make out the giant herds of animals with your binoculars from the comfort of your own room!
Delightful wooden carvings, artifacts and stylish accessories are tastefully arranged in the common areas of the lodge, and a well-stocked gift shop allows you to browse unique souvenirs for all those less fortunate folks you left back home. A vibrant mosaic of colored wooden inlays wrap the framing of the main bar in pleasing geometric patterns, while a ring of bar stools welcome the weary traveler to sit and relax over a refreshing beverage. A roaring fireplace in the main lounge provides the perfect central gathering space for sharing tall tales of the day's adventures, and is surrounded by a white washed stucco enclosure trimmed in smooth stones and lined with dark wooden benches. With a charming resemblance to totem poles, wooden columns line the interior of the vaulted dining room, dyed white and artfully carved to display patterns of teak color beneath. Massive picture windows offering magnificent views of the crater are available in the dining room, bar and lounge areas. The staff is very friendly and a drink in the lounge after a day out game driving the infamous crater is a good option.
Ngorongoro Serena Lodge is perched on the edge of the world-famous Ngorongoro Crater between the Serengeti and Lake Manyara National Park. It lies within the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, which covers more than 3000 square miles of pristine African wilderness.
The lodge is situated at the rim of the crater at an elevation of about 7,000 feet. It can get quite cold at night and in the early morning so make sure to pack appropriate attire. On the contrary, expect highs on the crater floor where you will be spending the majority of your day in the upper 70s and lower 80s so it's best to layer your clothing.
The Ngorongoro Crater is very small at only about 10 miles across. With just one game drive in the Crater, it is possible to circumnavigate the crater several times and see all the main highlights. However, every safari we offer includes two separate game drives in the Crater over a course of two days including one early morning 6AM drive. The goal on the early morning game drive is to be the first person in the Crater that day. Animals are generally more active morning, which makes the early morning game drive option an excellent choice. Accordingly, we h3ly recommend only one night at the Ngorongoro Serena Lodge (allows for 2 separate game drives) on all shorter duration safaris. Only on longer duration safaris would it be advisable to spend a second night at the Ngorongoro Serena Lodge.
Food and Drink
The food and service at Ngorongoro Serena Lodge is excellent. Breakfast is quite a spread and is served buffet style in the dining room. It consists of a large assortment of fruits, cereals, breads, eggs and bacon. However, if you do want to try and be the FIRST vehicle in the crater you may choose to have the staff pack you a picnic breakfast to go! Our standard itineraries typically include an early morning game drive (6AM) in the crater. This is a superb game drive and includes a bush breakfast from the Serena Lodge. After an hour or so game driving in the early morning or when you get hungry, you will stop to indulge in a bite to eat by Ngoitokitok Springs. It is highly recommended to go early to avoid the crowds that will inevitably drift in come late morning, not to mention that you will want to witness the spectacular ambience and wildlife viewing that the crater itself offers at dawn.
The best option for lunch is to arrange a picnic down on the crater floor either by the hippo pool or the small scenic lake. Alternatively, lunch is also offered at the lodge but we highly recommend opting for a serene picnic to maximize your time in the crater and minimize the time on the long bumpy road to that navigates the crater wall to and from the lodges.
Dinner at the lodge features wonderful food with international flair, and is quite a large production. A large buffet is available to hungry travelers in the beautiful main dining room, featuring a smorgasbord of fresh soups, crisp salads, newly prepared entrees and mouthwatering desserts. There is a good variety of beer, wine and cocktails available at an additional charge.
- Private game drives
- Explore the famous archaeological site and museum at Olduvai Gorge
- Maasai boma cultural visit
- Picnic lunches
- Visit the bizarre shifting sands
- Televisions in the main lounge
- Vibrant cultural entertainment, including traditional music and dance
- Herbal massage, hair styling and beauty treatments.
- Well stocked safari boutique and gift shop.
- Internet access.
- A full library of books on Africa and a wide range of board games.
- Full housekeeping services (laundry, valet, babysitting on request, children's menus, shoeshine.)
- Hairdryers and telephones in all rooms.
- 24 hour electricity.
- Full medical back-up and emergency evacuation facilities.