Ngorongoro Farm House
The Ngorongoro Farmhouse Lodge is a lovely lodge just outside of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. Set in 750 acres of private farmland, it is comfortable, well laid out and has some lovely views across the farm and across to Oldeani Volcano. The Farmhouse Lodge opened in 2003, and since then has been offering good value accommodation and is a good base for visiting both the Ngorongoro Crater and Lake Manyara National Park.
The lodge is still a fully functional farm – they grow their own wheat and the organic garden produces a lot of the vegetables used in the food. The farm is also home to cows, pigs and sheep, and the farm roasts and grinds their own coffee.
Ngorongoro Farmhouse Lodge, as the name suggests, very much feels like a farmhouse – as you arrive at the lodge, you are greeted with large, open grassy lawns that stretch across to the main areas. Behind is a small forest and rows of colourful flowers.
Ngorongoro Farmhouse Lodge has 52 rooms (big by our usual standards), but as the rooms are so spread out, and trees camouflage many, it doesn’t seem like there are as many rooms as there really are. The downside is that it can be a very long walk between many of the rooms and the main area.
The central areas at Ngorongoro Farmhouse Lodge are spacious, clean and comfortable. The restaurant and lounge area is situated inside a large, single-storey farmhouse-style building with white-washed walls and a thatched roof. Inside, red-tiled floors, wrought-iron chandeliers and bare brick fireplaces complete the effect – it feels like an old colonial farm.
The majority of the inside space is set out for dining, with individual tables varying in size, though corners with comfortable white sofas act as lounge areas, and there’s a coffee table topped with wildlife and anthropological books.
The bar is made with painted white brick and a polished wood top. A great place to enjoy a drink is on the deck outside. A warming fire is lit each night, which due to the cool air at the base of the Crater Highlands is very welcome. From the deck you can see right out across the farm and watch the sunset.
Ngorongoro Farmhouse also has its own coffee bar where guests can go for cappuccinos and lattes made from locally grown coffee. The coffee is also roasted and ground on site, which creates a wonderfully rich coffee aroma in the bar.
During the day, the large 3m-deep swimming pool is a welcome place to relax and swim, with sunloungers and plenty of shade. Children will also enjoy the volleyball and croquet that are often set up on the lawns.
Ngorongoro Farmhouse Lodge also has an extensive and well-stocked gift shop selling souvenirs. There are carvings, jewellery, clothes, maps and art for sale.
The cottages are scattered amongst pretty gardens and woodland surrounded by colourful flowerbeds. A long stone pathway leads back to the main areas in front of the rooms; the back of the rooms face onto farmland. There are three suites and forty-nine standard rooms (six of which are interconnecting family rooms). They are all decorated and designed in the same way – with high ‘barn style’ wooden beamed ceilings, polished concrete floors and a central brick fireplace.
Each bedroom has a wooden four-poster bed, covered by a white mosquito net, a couple of armchairs and a coffee table. The term ‘coffee table’ is taken quite literally here as the top of the carved wooden table actually contains real coffee beans! The rooms are neat and spacious but they lack decoration and colour and feel rather empty as a result. There seems little point to upgrade to one of the suites, as the main difference between them is the size of the room, which due to the lack of decoration makes the suites feel even sparser. Read more about the cottages here.
The bathrooms are decorated with white tiled walls and a red tilled floor. There’s a walk in shower, flush toilet and ceramic sink. The bathroom is clean and bright but functional rather than stylish.
Activities mainly focus on visits of Lake Manyara National Park or the Ngorongoro Crater, which is usually done with your own private driver/guide. If you decide to spend a morning or an afternoon at the lodge, then you can go on a nature walk around the farm and explore the coffee plantations; there is also a vegetable garden onsite. Or indulge in a massage at the spa that costs $50 for an hour. Each evening the lodge is visited by a local dance troop who perform in the garden.
Ngorongoro Farmhouse has a rustic, countryside feel, which is very appealing. We felt that the interiors do not quite live up to the promise of the exterior, but the lodge is still a welcoming and friendly, and comparatively affordable, spot to base yourself to trips to the crater.