There’s something rather magical about Ngorongoro – beginning with the bewitching name itself. N-go-ron-go-ro we go, way up to the volcanic highlands of Tanzania. And then suddenly, look, the enormous crater formed more than two million years ago when a mountain as big as Kilimanjaro exploded and collapsed. The wonder of it all, this world’s largest intact volcanic caldera, is ours to explore from the most magnificent homebase of Ngorongoro Lodge Melia. Our home-from-home has been designed with all respect due a World Heritage Site, with the sustainable, self-sufficient bells and whistles we expect (including solar-powered electricity and on-site bottling plant). We’ll sleep accompanied by the sounds of nature, and wake to a natural oasis excitingly inhabited by the major predators, including the Big Five. With luck, we’ll discover them all on our luxury Micato Safari, alongside the area’s unprecedented biodiversity – either on foot or from the comfort of the safari vehicle, together with our wily Micato Safari Director, perhaps capping off a memorable day’s safari over a scenery-rich picnic or sundowner within the 2,000-foot deep crater itself. (Edge to edge, Ngorongoro Crater sprawls an impressive 14 miles, and still our Micato Master knows all the prime spots.)
The new and pleasingly boutiquey Ngorongoro Lodge achieves a sense of soothing sanctuary – pale wood and hand-woven rugs amid splashes of colourful local artwork and traditional African motifs. Its 28 rooms and 24 luxury suites are decorated with uplifting Maasai artwork, minimalist roomy en-suite bathrooms, and show-stopping panorama windows onto the verdant caldera. There are plenty of outdoor spaces to relax and soak up the Ngorongoro Conservation Area’s endless landscapes (and, if you’re inclined to share with the folks at home, there’s Wi-Fi throughout). We’re never ones to forget that holidays are, well, a little holy – so time for The Spa, the 24-hour gym, loll in the gorgeous outdoor pool, a BBQ or to browse beautiful locally sourced items in the boutique is a given. Two gourmet restaurants feature international, African and Asian influenced cuisine, a barbeque area and, for those who yearn for evening in with their own private panorama, attentive room service is at the ready.
Our grand caldera adventure begins with Micato Safari Director-lead game drives and scenic feasts aboard a comfortable 4×4 vehicle, touring the trails and paths of our own African Garden of Eden. Here, a pink flush of flamingo, there, a tribe of antelope cavorting across the grassy crater floor. Most awaited, the magnificent vision of the many lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo and rhino that inhabit the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. Connect with the savannah and its living, pulsing animal world on a guided walking safari along pathways through the crater, and don’t miss the opportunity to visit a nearby Maasai village to learn about the life and culture of one of the largest tribes in all of Tanzania. Unwind after a rewarding day with a cossetting massage at The Spa, re-energise in the 24-hour gym, or browse beautiful locally sourced items in the Terrace Boutique.