The Ngorongoro Crater has long held its status as one of the world’s most iconic safari destinations. With a plethora of exquisite, luxury lodges to choose from, a trip to the crater has the potential to tick all the boxes for a dream safari holiday. For those looking to experience the caldera on a budget, there are also some hidden gems worth exploring.
The best places to stay near the Ngorongoro Crater depends on what you can afford, which ultimately impacts your accessibility to the crater.
Convenient Crater Access and Best Views
For the ultimate Ngorongoro Crater experience, the best place to stay is on the crater rim. Various lodges have been built on the rim that offers spectacular views and the easiest access to the crater.
This will be the most expensive option, but there is a collection of lodges and camps with views of the crater floor to choose from to suit your budget best. Some of these include the Ngorongoro Crater Lodge, Ngorongoro Serena Safari Lodge, the Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge and Ngorongoro Wildlife Lodge.
There are also lodges and camps in the rim valley of the crater that do not necessarily overlook the grassland floor, but also offer easy access to the crater. The Sanctuary Ngorongoro Crater Camp, for example, provides unrivalled road access into the crater.
For budget-friendly accommodation, it’s a good option to stay in the Rift Valley Escarpment – an area referred to as Karatu. Only 20 km outside of the crater, Karatu is set against the backdrop of scenic coffee plantations. The short, easy trip to the crater from here is worth the money saved.
Luxury Options on the Crater Rim
Ngorongoro Serena Lodge
Nestled high up on the walls of the mighty volcanic caldera is an architectural masterpiece with river-stone clad walls intertwined with indigenous creeping vines. The workmanship alone would make Serena Lodge an exceptional stay. Combine the design with that the fact that this special place is perched like a nest along the craggy edge of the prehistoric Ngorongoro Crater, and you have something truly staggering.
The rooms are strung out along the crater edge and each has its own balcony with unparalleled views. The positioning of the lodge and the way it mixes class with local culture is a big drawcard.
Costs: The standard rooms are priced from US$334 per night. The Kimba suites, starting from US$843 per night are large and luxurious rooms.
This lodge caters for guests looking for a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Staying on the edge of a World Heritage Site should only be considered when the cost is not a factor.
Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge
Situated on the highest point of the entire rim of the Ngorongoro Crater, Sopa Lodge has some of the best sunset views you will ever see. Incredibly spacious and designed as more of a luxury resort than a lodge, this establishment pulls out all the stops.
Costs: A single room in the high and peak season is currently priced from US$375 per night. Double rooms go for US$670 and four sleeper rooms start from US$1000.
The lodge caters for travellers with a taste for the finer things in life. With activities and amenities catering for all members of the family, the lodge is a perfect fit for honeymoon couples and adventurous families alike.
This lodge is a serious contender for being one of the best lodges in the world. AndBeyond Lodge features 30 lavish suites inspired in concept by Maasai homesteads, yet has the most dramatic interior design. The lodge is divided into three camps, each with its own dining areas and personal butlers to ensure every possible need is taken care of.
Guests are transported to a kingdom high up in the East African sky, where the mists swirl to reveal breath-taking vistas of the crater. Travellers can enjoy Maasai warrior dances, jaw-dropping sunsets, personalized service, all in a setting that feels distinctly royal yet will all the trappings of local charm.
Costs: Suite prices range from US$1160 per person sharing per night in low season to US$1950 per person in peak season.
The establishment caters for travellers that are not afraid to splash the cash on the finest living that Tanzania has to offer. Every aspect of the lodge is designed with the closest attention to detail and was created with the sole purpose of offering guests an experience like no other. The sense of romance that the lodge offers is unparalleled and is thus a bucket-list destination for smitten couples or those seeking exclusivity.
Neptune Ngorongoro Luxury Lodge
This hotel is conveniently located just a short walk from the game reserve gates and the drive into the crater will take you less than half an hour. It combines all the opulence one would hope for in a romantic African getaway, with a touch of traditional Tanzanian comforts.
For those looking to relax in style, this is an exceptional choice. Guests can recline alongside the swimming pool, book a massage at the Earth & Rain Spa or sit back and enjoy a full-day game drive in the Crater.
Costs: The lodge features 20 luxurious log cabins. The price is around US$1200 for a single room for two people sharing.
The lodge is an idyllic retreat for those looking for an intimate bush experience. Better catered to couples and smaller families, the 20 spacious log cabins feature an open fireplace, king-size beds and large en-suite bathrooms.
The Plantation Lodge
Although it’s not situated on the crater rim, the Plantation Lodge is still one of the finest lodges in the area. Built on a coffee plantation in the Karatu Region, the establishment is elegantly landscaped with lush green gardens and a pool surrounded by beautifully appointed garden suites.
The lodge’s location is ideal for safari-goers. Only 12km from the Ngorongoro Crater and 35km from Lake Manyara National Park, the lodge is a great base from which guests can explore much of the Northern Circuit.
Costs: Admittedly the lodge is probably more towards the luxury end of the pricing spectrum than other mid-range options. When compared to some of the exorbitantly priced lodges on the crater rim, however, this can be seen as slightly more affordable. Prices on request from the establishment.
There is a wide variety of rooms available ranging from a family farmhouse suite to a honeymoon suite, appealing equally to those seeking a big family holiday or an intimate African bush escape.
The Retreat at Ngorongoro
As another option situated in the Karatu region, this hotel is extremely well thought of amongst regular travellers to the area. Elegantly designed cottages are situated in man-crafted gardens, creating the impression that you have entered an oasis in the heart of the East African bush.
The Retreat manages to shave off some of the costs that one encounters at the premier lodges, while still offering world-class facilities and service. It is ideally located just 30 minutes from the Ngorongoro Crater gate and with a variety of exciting things to do within a short radius of the hotel.
Costs: Single rooms start from US$260 in the offseason. Double rooms range from US$380 per night per unit in the low season to US$565 per unit per night in the high season.
The wide range of activities available at the hotel along combined with its proximity to the nearby national parks makes the Retreat ideal for the adventurous at heart. With rooms sleeping anywhere from one to six people, the Retreat caters for couples and families alike.
Budget Ngorongoro Crater Hotels
Bougainvillea Safari Lodge
Bougainvillea Safari Lodge is a 32 room lodge situated in Karatu that offers affordable accommodation for those wanting to visit the Ngorongoro Crater and its surroundings.
The individual villas are cosy and comfortable. The executive chef Reggie Bayo serves up seven-course meals each night and has given the lodge restaurant legend status.
Costs: Prices start from US$140 for a room per night.
Location in Karatu is everything and guests of the lodge are just a few minutes drive from the Ngorongoro Crater gates, while still being a short distance from many other Northern Circuit Parks. The reasonable price makes it an ideal location from which to set up a safari base. Suited to both families and couples.
Ngorongoro Simba Campsite
Located right on the edge of the rim, the combination of value for money and location is possibly superior to any other accommodation option. This large public campsite sees wildlife roaming in between the tents and is a treat for nature lovers.
Although the site can be overcrowded at times, the facilities are well looked after and the service is good.
Costs: Camping costs for national parks start from about US$35 per tent.
With buffalo and other wildlife at large, the campsite is catered ideally for those seeking the ultimate immersive African experience. If price is a major factor, this lodge offers guests the same sunsets that those at the fancy lodges are experiencing for a fraction of the price.