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