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Going looney: Ngorongoro Crater Lodge.. worth it, or exorbitant and not worth it?

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Aug 17th, 2005, 09:04 AM
  #1
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Going looney: Ngorongoro Crater Lodge.. worth it, or exorbitant and not worth it?

We are hemming and hawing over this..
My husband is really on the fence, and I admit I am curious.
Total amount we saved (I originally thought it would be $800) ended up being around $630.

While I can't imagine ONE night being worth $630, I have to admit I am intrigued by the place.

Option 1:
Ngorongoro Lodge
Olduvai Tented Camp
2nights Ronjo Flycamp

Option 2:
Olduvai Tented Camp
2nights Ronjo Flycamp
Olduvai Tented Camp

What are the arguments for and against it?

btw, I think my contact over at ATR HAS to be so fed up with me by now with all my questions!!
BostonGal is offline  
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Aug 17th, 2005, 09:06 AM
  #2
 
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BostonGal,
So it's Crater Lodge or no Crater at all? If those are the alternatives, and your wallet can accommodate it, definitely stay at the Crater.

Of course, this is coming from someone who has only stayed at the Wildlife Lodge, so take my advice with a cup of salt!
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Aug 17th, 2005, 09:18 AM
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Hello,

One way or another, you really should stay at the Crater. The sunrise and sunset over the crater rim are incredible, and you're not likely to see them on a drive-in trip from further out. From a more practical standpoint, the best time to go down to the crater is as soon as it opens in the morning -- most people will be having breakfast first, so if you hit the road early you will have the crater almost to yourself (and the animals, of course). Again, this would be very hard to do if you stay outside the crater simply because of the transportation time involved.

I'm sure you probably guess this, but I'd go for it and stay at the Crater Lodge. It will be a once in a lifetime experience for the sheer OTTness of it -- plus CCAfrica is very good about arranging activities to suit the guests, so if you want a very early departure to beat the crowds down to the crater floor you have a good chance of being able to do it. Larger places are less likely to be as flexible.

I assume you weren't able to get Serena or Sopa? I'm not fond of the larger hotel-style lodges, but they would be a cheaper option.

Cheers,
Julian
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Aug 17th, 2005, 09:19 AM
  #4
 
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If you are planning to visit the Crater, then a night on the rim will be very pleasant. The views are something you will never forget (weather permitting).

Most people do at least 2 visits to the crater floor - afternoon and early morning. You cannot easily do this from Oldupai camp.

Olduvai Camp is 35km away over a very dusty and bumpy road. From there to the crater floor is near 2 hours.

Rim properties Serena and Sopa are nearest to the descend roads. Crater Lodge is further away but very romantic with a fireplace in the room etc. How much time do you plan to spend at the lodge? If you plan to take it easy and enjoy the views then it is excellent! If you're just sleeping there, it may be overkill but with sore legs after Kili you will like the pampering!

If too expensive, then why are Sopa or Serena not an option?
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Aug 17th, 2005, 09:22 AM
  #5
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Exactly - Crater Lodge or no crater at all. I guess ATR does not book at Serena or Sopa, because they are mass-market huge hotels (or something like that), and I think they just don't want to be associated with that type of accommodations.

So we should splurge, eh? Now that I think of it, if we do the Crater Lodge, it will be 2 nights after our last day of the Kili climb, and that tub that is described is quite difficult to pass up!

Thanks to both of you for the input.. I am wondering if I will hear any arguments against the Lodge..
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Aug 17th, 2005, 09:25 AM
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Hello,

Crater Lodge right after a Kili climb -- sounds heavenly!

However, you might want to look in to going 'off-piste' -- you may be able to book your own accommodation for a few nights. I did this with EOA -- they booked my Botswana portion and I booked a large chunk of the South Africa portion myself since South Africa is so amenable to independent travel. That way you might be able to use Serena or Sopa.

Cheers,
Julian
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Aug 17th, 2005, 09:50 AM
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I'm pretty sure Rocco booked with ATR for Ngorongoro Serena Lodge originally (which he later changed to Crater Lodge). Are you sure they can't book you in there?
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Aug 17th, 2005, 10:02 AM
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BostonGal

Someone posted the funniest thing here some time ago - it goes something like this (the rates are imaginery):

Wildlife Lodge - $180
Sopa Lodge - $195
Serena Lodge - $220
Not having to explain to your significant other why you DID NOT choose the Crater Lodge - Priceless!
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Aug 17th, 2005, 10:07 AM
  #9
bat
 
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BostonGal:

ATR will book the Serena and the Sopa. I have booked with them and we are staying 1 night at the Serena and 1 night at Crater Lodge (could not afford 2 nights at Crater Lodge but was concerned I would later regret not having stayed there.) My ATR rep's own opinion was that the Crater Lodge was not worth the extra money--so it is not that ATR was pushing it by any means. Also, they were willing to book the Sopa (my 1st choice over the Serena because of location) but it was filled and this was back in April/May. So your current situation may be an availability issue. I was told by a different operator months ago that the rim lodges were all booked for Feb. Could very well be true for late January when you are trying to stay there. Frankly, I think that you are lucky to be able to get into Crater Lodge at this point.

I, too, would say that a night at Crater Lodge after climbing Kili sounds perfect--and well deserved.
If it is any consolation on the $$, the price is lower in January --more like an extra $1000 in Feb for a double--so in that sense, by staying there at the end of January you are getting a "bargain"!!
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Aug 17th, 2005, 10:17 AM
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Hi BostonGal!

We just finished going through a very simlar exercise. We chose to go with ATR, (for the very same reason you chose them) and they WILL book you at the Sopa or Serena, though as you noticed they are not too pleased to do so.

Having said that, we chose NOT to stay at the Crater Lodge, not so much for the $$$, but for the fact that we would be travelling with our 12 year old birth-control.

If I was going just hubby and I, I would say go for it! What's $600 extra dollars versus how many miles and days it takes to get there??!! Go and enjoy it, you wouldn't regret it!
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Aug 17th, 2005, 10:24 AM
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Hello,

If you do go for Crater Lodge, request Tree Camp -- it's smaller than the other two camps, and it has the best views (the famous shot of the breakfast looking out over the crater was done from Tree Camp).

Cheers,
Julian
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Aug 17th, 2005, 10:26 AM
  #12
 
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I was, in fact, able to switch to the Crater Lodge after first booking at the Serena.

After the Kiliminjaro Marathon I really wanted to be pampered four a few nights, so I scheduled two nights at the Manyara Tree Camp and two nights at Ngorongonro Crater Lodge, before going onward to face the harsh realities of the Nomad Tanzania camps, Mbuze Mawe, Emerson & Green, and the most basic of all the accomodations, the Palms Zanzibar for three final nights of roughing it.

http://www.ccafrica.com/reserve-1-id-2-4

http://www.ccafrica.com/reserve-1-id-2-12

http://www.nomad-tanzania.com/our-camps-1.php#

http://www.serenahotels.com/tanzania/mbuzi/home.htm

www.palms-zanzibar.com

My entire itinerary is as follows:

Moivaro Coffee Lodge (3) (to allow for Kiliminjaro Marathon)

Manyara Tree Lodge (2)

Ngorongoro Crater Lodge (2)

Olduvai Camp (1)

Nomad Masek Camp (2)

Nomad Piaya Camp (2)

Mbuzi Mawe Camp (2)

Emerson & Green (2)

Palms Zanzibar (3)

To think that I will only have four months (30 days before departure) to pay for the balance of this trip upon my return from Zambia is a bit disconcerting. If you a guy at your freeway offramp begging for money, it may just be me!
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Aug 17th, 2005, 10:31 AM
  #13
 
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Hi Boston Gal!

I'm only just in the stages of planning my first trip to Africa, so the "old-timers" may roll their eyes at me for chiming in.. But...here is my 2 cents worth. Search your heart and decide if you really think $650 is worth it for a couple of nights at a lodge. If it is, then go for it and don't look back. I think about how that money could go for another night or two someplace else, or for a nice lens, or toward my airfare...but that is just me. Again, just search your heart. The lodge does look fabulous. But is it $650 worth of fabulous when you're already in Africa...the ultimate in fabulous already? (Oh Lord. Just listen to me.) ;-)
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Aug 17th, 2005, 10:43 AM
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Cooncat has a good point, though I often make the calculations in a slightly different way -- more along the lines of 'how many nights at Londoz will putting off this or that household improvement buy?'

; )

Cheers,
Julian
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Aug 17th, 2005, 10:51 AM
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Julian!!! Don't even go there! I could have new windows installed, a new driveway poured, I could go on and on. I finally just decided that this (well next) year is the year. I've dreamed of seeing Africa since I was 17. The wait will soon be over!!! And thanks for being nice ... I started to regret my previous post, considering the ridiculous time I've having planning my own trip! Seriously BostonGal, if you want to experience the Crater Lodge, by all means go for it!!!!!!!!!
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Aug 17th, 2005, 11:04 AM
  #16
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We pulled the trigger.

We're going for it for one night.

aackk!

*thud*

The credit card companies are going to LOVE me after this trip =P
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Aug 17th, 2005, 11:40 AM
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Hope you enjoy it!

Cheers,
Julian
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Aug 17th, 2005, 12:45 PM
  #18
bat
 
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climbhighsleeplow:

That imaginary Mastercard commercial about Crater Lodge was my posting. It goes like this--and it is told from my partner's perspective:

Trip to Africa--$10,000
Night at Crater Lodge--$1000
Never having to listen to Barb complain that we should have stayed there --priceless!

I take some author's pride in the joke but am embarassed about what it says about my obsessive personality.
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Aug 17th, 2005, 12:51 PM
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Very funny, bat. I like climbhigh's version, too.

And BostonGal: sounds like a great trip! I'm jealous.
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Aug 17th, 2005, 12:59 PM
  #20
bat
 
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Thanks Leely--yeah, both versions are good.

BostonGal, also remember Julian's advice re requesting Tree Camp (the famous photo that shows up in all the promos). I figure that it may cost me a $1000 but by god/dess I am going to recreate that photo with me in it! (well, not exactly re-create it because I read somewhere that the photographer used a rose filter.)
Have a great trip and wishing you success on Kili.
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