We have several safaris under our belt, and on most, we have visited Ndutu -- both during the high season around February/March and in the "off" season in August. And Ndutu Safari Lodge has established itself as our favorite anywhere -- not in spite of its lack of "luxe" status, but largely because of it.
My usual preference is for tented camps. Canvas offers that sense that you're one with nature, separated only by a relatively thin layer of cloth. Ndutu Safari Lodge offers (scrupulously clean, cozy, and comfortable) cottages instead -- but the sense here of history, of authenticity, of proximity to nature and a reverence for both flora and fauna and a genuine respect for the awesome experience its guests are immersed in while living the small taste of what those fortunate enough to live in the wild experience every day.
This lodge has good and wholesome food, terrific staff, clean and comfy rooms, access to wifi and electricity for charging batteries and cell phones -- all the standard features of an adequate accommodation. But it has something which some other camps and lodges lack -- and it has this in abundance. It has heart.
Its main lodge, with the banquettes and rough-hewn tables is open to the elements, with views out to the lake, a birdbath frequented by birds and other wildlife at all times of the day and night, resident Kirk's Dik-diks which beg adorably for popcorn around the campfire. It has a resident owner and a manager both of whom exhibit obvious care for the lodge, for its staff and for its clients. As the first lodge or camp at Ndutu, it has genuine history -- and it retains the feeling of an old-fashioned hunting camp, but with a modern respect for wildlife and true interest in the lives and doings of the local animals. The lodge publishes a semi-annual newsletter rich in news about the area, the people, the animals of Ndutu. And they have won many, many loyal clients who, like us, return whenever life's exigencies make it possible.
They also have a family of Common Genets which graces their dining room every evening, watching from the wooden rafters as we fascinating humanoids point our cameras at them and wonder at their adorableness. Worth a couple of nights here if for nothing else but a close-up experience with genets!
There are, I believe, more luxurious options in the area -- but Ndutu Safari Lodge always books up very early for Ndutu's high season, and I can even recommend it outside those traditionally "productive" months. There have been days, for us, when sitting at the breakfast table watching the birds at the birdbath long after the table has been cleared, then sitting in the lounge -- or just outside -- enjoying whatever passes by has been as satisfying as a game drive. This is a place of sublime peace at any time of year, and we'll be returning -- circumstances and health permitting -- in another couple of years. Highly recommended, provided you're not looking for rose petals in your claw-footed bathtub.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Ndutu Safari Lodge, shaded by majestic acacia trees, is situated in the south-eastern part of the Serengeti. The Lodge has thirty four cottages, all built with local materials, with individual verandahs facing Lake Ndutu. Tucked away from the madding crowd, Ndutu offers peace and tranquility. Stay close to the lodge and enjoy our resident wildlife or go for a drive to explore the surrounding plains or marsh area. After sunset return to the homely warmth and hospitality of Ndutu Safari Lodge. Karibuni. ... more less
- Also Known As:
- Ndutu Safari Hotel Arusha
- Ndutu Hotel Ngorongoro Conservation Area