Africa Dream Safaris gave us the trip of a lifetime. We journaled every day of our journey. What follows is the description of our arrival at the Ngorongoro Crater Lodge as well as photos highlighting our time in Tanzania. In the words of Hemingway, “If I have ever seen magic, it is in Africa.”
When we pull up to Crater Lodge, the visible expanse of grounds and terracotta cottages overlooking the crater and lake below seems like a scene from a fairy tale. A lone zebra grazes alongside a nearby cottage as we walk up the wooden steps to the high-ceilinged foyer of the main building. A table in the entry way is filled with vases of red roses reflected in a huge ornate mirror by the wall. We are ushered into the lobby sitting room where guests are finishing their welcome drinks to then exit with assigned butlers.
Our butler is a hearty fellow who introduces himself as McCoy. He makes sure we understand: “You know, the real McCoy!” Roman, our guide, has secured the jeep and comes in to see how we are doing. He and McCoy are excited to see each other (old friends). They haven’t seen each other since the start of the pandemic.
We sit on a plump couch upholstered in cut velvet, taking in the chandelier above which is somehow suspended from an inverted cone ceiling (think turret on the outside), lined with intricately woven banana leaves. Lighted candle sconces illuminate curved walls of mahogany panels that might be found in the library or study of a fine London home. Two intimate sitting alcoves hide huge velvet couches behind yards and yards of diaphanous long, purple drapes that pool on the gleaming hardwood floor.
Leather books rest on an expansive coffee table, a thick oriental rug visible below through its glass top. A silver tray with cut glass decanters reflecting sunlight are filled with bourbon and sherry, standing at the ready with matching glasses. The senses are overwhelmed – too many fascinating objects to take in at once. We have gone back in time and the feel is of British colonization.
Our cottage is perched at the rim of the crater and each room offers tremendous views. This, too, is an open property so an escort must be called to come and go. A solid wood outside door opens to a tiny, closed entry with an umbrella stand. Rounded walls are painted sage and interspersed with large curved mahogany panels. The four-poster bed is huge, again with a plush white comforter and piles of pillows.
The same conical banana weave ceiling we saw in the lobby is showcased here, complete with the magically suspended chandelier. A tiny fireplace graces one corner, natural cut wood logs of all shapes and sizes stacked and ready for use. Two deep leather wing back chairs, plush woven lap blankets draped over the backs, await our use after dinner when McCoy will have made the fire and turned down the bed. He shows us the control for the electric blanket which rests under the fitted sheet rather than above it, already warming on what proves to be a chilly night.
The bath had been drawn and adorned with rose petals…a delightful sight as we entered our cottage. Dinner, a bath, then a restful sleep…and our journey continued in the morning.
Photo Credit: Suzanne Doucette
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My husband and I are booked for 10 days with African Dreams in February of 2025!!!
It is a surprise for him…I can’t wait. It looks exactly as I had hoped.
You will love it! It is truly a magical experience that will leave you wanting more. It is wonderful that you are planning in advance. We packed carefully and each had a bag weighing around 30-pounds with items to be layered and a few nicer pieces for dining in more elegant settings. I am so excited for you! Suzanne
Suzanne…After viewing your description of the crater lodge and reviewing our itinerary
I immediately contacted Sharon from African Dreams and changed our itinerary to include one night here. Thank You so much!! Without your email I never would have heard of this place.
Wow! Amazing description… I felt like I was there with you. Reminded me of Karen Blixen’s beautiful imagery… that became a movie!
Thank you so much. I enjoyed writing every word in my daily journal. So much transpires in any given day in such a setting that one must take note lest the details be overshadowed by the next day’s overwhelming discoveries.
What an amazing welcome to enjoy. Your detailed observation makes my desire to see it in person come alive.
A visit will not disappoint, I guarantee you. Africa is full of surprises and is so very different from other places I have visited. The abundance of wildlife and the rugged terrain leave one in awe. Truly, it is a journey which reaches the soul.
You captured the Crater Lodge beautifully in your words and pictures. It is indeed a magical place. My smile grew wide as your journal described each room and the heightened sense of wonder you felt therein. You transported me back to that mystical retreat I’ve had the privilege of visiting twice. I remembered the zebras emerging from the morning fog just beyond our balcony, the birds singing as I soaked among rose petals, and the sun spotlighting a lake far below. The amazing view is surreal at that most unique lodge perched on the rim of that spectacular crater. And the bounty of animals that steal your heart away when you descend to its floor complete this remarkable experience! Thank you for rekindling the joy and awe I too felt while staying at the Crater Lodge.
Thank you, Marybeth, for letting me know the photos and descriptions brought back vivid memories. How wonderful to stay there twice! Your beautifully recounted moments helped me remember the mystical lake and glorious, tall birds as we drove through the crater first, on our way to the lodge. In October, it appeared to be a vast brown and barren expanse from a distance yet was teeming with life. Indeed, it was here that we made our final sighting of “the big five”: the black rhino. As if to top that, this wondrous lodge appeared through the mist as we climbed from the crater’s floor. Later in the evening chill, McCoy safely escorted us to dinner where we were seated before a spirited fire casting dancing shadows on the planked floor. Heavenly aromas wafted in from the kitchen as staff carefully scattered an inner, middle and outer circle of white, yellow and red rose petals to surround a special nearby table. As the young honeymoon couple arrived, the bride’s eyes opened wide and, though rendered speechless, her delight spoke for all of us: there is no place so raw, so splendid as Africa.