The Manor’s Cape Dutch-style cottage suites are a wonderful example of Afro-European design, full of Old World charm, African bonhomie, and, perhaps most crucially, heady dollops of tranquility. Its setting amidst a 1,500 acre Arabica coffee estate is quiet, gloriously green, and a great jumping off place for game drives and wonderment at Lake Manyara and the world-wondrous Ngorongoro Crater. Each cottage is adroitly placed for views across emerald hills and for privacy and intimacy with the millennial rhythms of Africa.
Micato doesn’t recommend lodges or camps that lack individual vision and spirit. And each has a unique charm, or we would pass them by. But, together with its heavenly location, The Manor has a certain unique charisma. “I got used to these spectacular lodges,” one of our safariers writes, “but when I remember them, first I remember The Manor.”
The Manor at Ngorongoro invites us to “step back in time to an age of grandeur,” and they succeed in living up to that proud invitation (even though we don’t think we need step back in time; African safari is currently in a glowingly golden age).
Each of the Manor’s cottage suites has its own private entrance, sun terrace, and an extra-wide fireplace, not to mention a claw-footed bathtub and a glistening, modern, double-sink bathroom and rain shower, amenities and grace notes that safariers back in that age of grandeur would have given their snappy safari hats and more for. And as for the two-story Stable Cottage: Old school English aristocrats and their families feel right at stately country home.
Dining at the Manor is an exceptionally warm and bountiful experience, whether by the pool, in one’s suite, in the wonderfully furnished Wine Cellar, or in the Main House—or for that matter, on an estate or game drive picnic. Traditionalists might want to retire afterward to the Main House’s Lounge, which looks like the kind of place Ernest Hemingway would have loved to spin stories in, as the fire crackled and we sank into our soft leather chairs, brandy snifters in hand.
The Manor embraces families and kids, and, along with unforgettable, devices-put-on-hold game drives, offers opportunities for horesebacking, mountain biking, wandering in the lush gardens with the elders, or swimming in the Manor’s inviting pool.
Much to do at the Manor, but, as always, it’s our Micato Safari Director-guided game drives that provide pleasantly persistent memories. We’ll drive down to bird and game-rich Lake Manyara. Perhaps we’re familiar with Manyara. It’s the lake Denys Finch Hatton and Karen Blixen fly over in Out of Africa, the lake that bursts into life when thousands of flamingos lift off from its waters. The lake is also known for its tree-climbing lions—though tree-lounging might be a better description.
And then, of course, up to the Ngorongoro Crater. We wend our way through lush forest to the crater’s rim and we’re greeted by a sight unseeable anywhere else on earth: a hundred-square mile natural sanctuary, a Lost World, unmarred by humans, home to 25,000 large mammals and uncountable smaller but no less fascinating other creatures. (One reason for Ngorongoro’s Lost World aura: it was unknown to the outside world until the very late 1800s.)
This is the kind of country Peter Matthiessen—who wondered how all those hippos found their way to the steep-walled crater floor—praised in The Tree Where Man Was Born: “…the stillness of the ancient continent…the imminence of so much as yet unknown. Something has happened here, is happening, will happen—whole landscapes seem alert.” A few chapters before that, Matthiessen wrote of the “wild creatures I had come to Africa to see…exhilarating in their multitudes and colors,” and we will indeed be exhilarated by the crater’s lions, giraffes, Cape buffalo, perhaps by its elusive leopards, and surely by its elephants. And if you’re enchanted by elephants, as probably all should be, here’s a memorable quote from naturalist Carl Safina, something to ponder as mull over an African safari, or, better yet, as we watch the giant beasts at leisure and work:
Many people fantasize that if they won the lottery, they would quit their job and immerse themselves in leisure, play, family, parenthood, occasional thrilling sex; they’d eat when they were hungry and sleep whenever they felt sleepy. Many people, if they won the lottery and got rich quick, would want to live like elephants.