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The 97-room Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge is an international-style hotel positioned on the eastern edge of Tanzania’s UNESCO-listed Ngorongoro Crater, with stunning views over the Crater. Most guests spend one or two nights at Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge. It is close to the very quiet eastern road into the Crater, which sees less traffic than the more popular road on the western side.
The 97 bedrooms at Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge are set in large two-storey rondavels, separate from the main building. Each rondavel houses four bedrooms, two downstairs and two upstairs, all with views overlooking the crater. The rooms are spacious, spotlessly clean and have a large en-suite bathroom. All are semi-circular in shape and entered via a lobby furnished with a cupboard and a writing desk, as well as a minibar that is filled on request. All the bedrooms are carpeted and have two queen-size double beds, a dressing table, a stool and a hairdryer. There is also central heating, which is very welcome up on the crater rim as it can get very cold at certain times of the year due to the altitude. A glass-enclosed balcony, with two rocking chairs, has stunning views over the Crater. Some interconnecting rooms are designed for families travelling together.
Although the bedrooms are fairly dated, the bathrooms have been renovated and have cream-coloured wall and floor tiles. There is a single basin on top of a vanity unit with a mirror above, a flush toilet and a spacious walk-in shower. Branded toiletries are also provided.
It is also worth noting that this is one of the best properties in the area in terms of disabled access. The lodge has a couple of wheelchairs on site, plenty of ramps and slopes, as well as a fully adapted room, with wider doors, a low bed and a wet room.
The central areas of Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge are all within one large glass-fronted building, which is shaped as two rondavels adjoined by a central well-lit atrium. These house the cavernous reception area – composed of a broad semi-circular polished dark-wood desk attended by uniformed concierge staff – an internet room and a vast curio shop, which sells a wide variety of souvenirs, from fabrics and guidebooks to wooden carvings large and small.
A short staircase leads to a small sunken lounge, with the entrance to the dining room on one side, and the lounge/bar on the other.
The dining room is dotted with tables and chairs and able to seat around 200 people. The dining chairs are comfortably cushioned and match the blue of the carpet. In the centre of the room is an open fireplace which is now decorative only. Over half of the room is glass-fronted, to make the most of the spectacular views.
The lounge and bar at Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge is exactly the same shape as the dining room, and shares its views through the glass windows. The lounge has a central fireplace, polished wooden floors, a long wooden bar and brown and cream leather sofas clustered around coffee tables. It’s spacious and cosy yet, like the rest of the lodge, the décor is certainly dated.
Above the lounge is a multi-functional space that can be used for conferences and also has a small number of sofas around a TV. There is a sizeable balcony where private dinners or drinks can be held.
In front of the main building is a swimming pool, which is surrounded by well-manicured lush green grass and wooden sunloungers with a view right out over Ngorongoro Crater. The pool here is the only one on the crater rim, and although it can be bracing, it’s a great addition to the property. On a grassy level below, there are a number of campfire spots, perfect for enjoy sundowners looking out over the Crater.
Most guests spend two nights at Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge, whose main activities are half-or full-day visits into Ngorongoro Crater. The lodge is close to the very quiet eastern road into the Crater and sees less traffic than the more popular road on the western side. It also means that you start your game drive on the opposite side of the basin and, as a result, you can enjoy a few hours with relatively few other vehicles.
Visitors might also want to spend a day visiting Empakaai Crater, which is only a 90-minute drive from the lodge. With a diameter of only 6km, Empakaai is smaller than Ngorongoro, but equally beautiful. Spend a full day here and you can walk down onto the crater floor to look out for birds and monkeys in the forest, and on a clear day you can see Lake Natron and Mount Kilimanjaro in the distance.
For travelers looking for something intimate, stylish and authentic, Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge is not the right place. However, it has a great feeling of space, the staff are very friendly and the views are magnificent. The lodge has quick access down to the Crater floor and it is great for families with younger children who would make the most of the pool, as well as for those traveling on a bit of a budget.