Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge

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Feb 5th, 2012, 05:50 AM
  #1
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Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge

We have recently returned from a trip to Kenya and Tanzania including a 12-day safari during which we stayed in a number of different lodges including Sopa and Serena Lodges. We were nervous about one particular booking - being the 2 night stay at the Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge, in part because the description of it given in the Fodor safari planner was not brilliant and stated that it was shabby with outdated furnishing, dim lighting, a limited hot water supply and large noisy public areas.

Well, the reality of the lodge was so different. From the moment we arrived the atmosphere was friendly and peaceful. The reception and lounge area was tastefully furnished with elegant ethnic furniture and decor. Our request for a room with a view was instantly processed and we were taken to a room with a spectacular view of the crater. At first we thought there had been a mistake, because the room was more of a suite, with an entrance lobby, a vast bedroom, large bathroom and an enclosed patio overlooking the crater with rocking chairs. The room was immaculate and the furnishings were colourful and beautiful. We discovered that this was a standard room.

Still with the words of the guidebook ringing in our ears, we belated took a shower (outside of the hours when hot water was promised) and found it was in plentiful supply and then went to dinner. The restaurant was not big and noisy at all. The staff led us to the table of our choice and proceeded to serve up a banquet. No buffet meals here. Later we sat in the comfortable bar and relaxed to the sound of authentic African music (we did find that the Serena hotels tended to play western style music over their music systems). Nature put on a display of a lighting storm over the far rim of the crater and we felt that we arrived in a small paradise.

While we were at dinner, staff placed hot water bottles on the beds and turned back the covers. The manager of the lodge was a very friendly man who had time to talk to guests and like all the staff there made us feel genuinely welcome.

All the public areas at this lodge had a view of the crater (including from the swimming pool). The lodge shop had a useful array of products and the curios on sale were not over priced, as was the case in some places. The staff were happy to charge up my camera battery and my husband's ipod.

We cannot recommend this lodge highly enough. Our next stop was at the Tarangire Sopa Lodge, which really was shabby and outdated and where the management and staff were not so helpful.
MarionChester is offline  
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Feb 5th, 2012, 06:18 AM
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I stayed at Sopa Crater two nights a year ago. I found it very acceptable, my room huge and clean. But did find the dinning room big and noisy with food just average for a safari lodge. We stayed there because of its road access to the Crater so that primary importance for us. To get down morning ASAP for photography.

Did you by chance stay at the Ndutu Safari Lodge? If so, how did you like it?

Oh, and BTW, did you see any wildlife?

regards - tom
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Feb 5th, 2012, 07:21 AM
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Thanks for the positive report and counterpoint. I agree with your findngs. The rocking chairs were a nice touch to fully enjoy the views from your own room.

I have the same questions at Tom.
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Feb 5th, 2012, 08:41 AM
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Possible Fodor's reps haven't been to the Ngo-Sopa since the lodge has started refurbing some of the rooms. And, seems most have been completed. Guess they have to update for next publication.

Next up would be the Sopa at Tarangire, which while the rooms are large, they were indeed rather shabby and due for refurbing, but who knows when. And, their dining room is very large. As I recall, the Sopa at Serengeti is the nicest.

Considering that Sopa also owns/manages the Elewana properties - Arusha Coffee Ldg, Treetops/Tarangire, Manor @ Ngo (actually in Karatu) and Migration/Serengeti... all 5* and expensive, that it's taken them so long to address the needs of their actual Sopa Lodges (cash-flow issue, I guess?)
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Feb 5th, 2012, 09:12 AM
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I am very glad to read this nice review as we will be staying there for two nights this July. Thanks for posting!
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Feb 5th, 2012, 10:33 AM
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Here's another reason why Sopa IMHO is the best option on the crater rim; apart from (the more expensive) Lemala it's the only lodge located NORTH on the rim!

That means;

- You can enter via the north gate, where there's much less people waiting in the morning. This means you are on the crater floor much sooner as the average person who booked a room at a lodge on the southern part of the rim.

- From the north end of the crater, you can do day-trips to the other craters nearby. For example; at Empakai crater you can hike to the lake at the bottom and then back up. A nice change of pace.

- Also, the Maasai living in that area are much more authentic than the ones in the fake tourist villages south of the crater. Here, the colors of their clothing is faded, there's no dancing and jumping, the huts are made of cow dung and mud, and you don't get to buy anything from a curio shop. But give the kids a football or anything similar, and you'll see some real magic.

Ciao,

J.
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Feb 5th, 2012, 11:28 AM
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Sandi,

Are you sure that Sopa owns/manages Elewana properties? I thought they were two separate chains. Elewana properties are much more upscale than Sopas'and include such places as Arusha Coffee House, Tarangire Treetops, the Manor at Ngorongoro, Serengeti Migration Camp and two properties on the coast, one in Zanzibar and one in Diani Beach. I think you are mixing the two chains up.

Please correct me if I am wrong.
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Feb 5th, 2012, 12:14 PM
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baraca -

Sopa is Elewana... just the higher/luxe product.
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Feb 5th, 2012, 01:29 PM
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Nice report as we are also booked into this Sopa for two nights on our safari. But I am wondering about your comment: "The staff were happy to charge up my camera battery and my husband's ipod." Are there no outlets for charging in the rooms? We will have a lot of equipment to charge!
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Feb 5th, 2012, 03:57 PM
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jczinn - we had power outlets in our (three) rooms. But - perhaps some rooms do not have power so check/request it.

regards - tom
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Feb 6th, 2012, 09:47 AM
  #11
 
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thanks Tom, good to know. I will make sure my operator requests rooms with outlets in all lodges, where possible. I know that Ndutu also has some rooms without outlets.
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Feb 6th, 2012, 10:41 AM
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We stayed at Ndutu. It was the largest place we stayed on our safari. Cabins are basic, but do have whatever you need and do have electricity. It was the most impersonal place we stayed (due to size). But the migration was all around and that was very good. At breakfast one of our kids asked for maple syrup for her pancakes. They proudly brought out a large jug of Kirtman (Costco) maple syrup. Unfortunately, insects had gotten into the jug. They next day they brought it to us again. Just an fyi..
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Feb 6th, 2012, 12:28 PM
  #13
 
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I'm glad you liked it!

We stayed there in December and absolutely loved it. Whoever reviewed for the Fodors safari planner either stayed a while ago and/or didn't stay in the same rooms we had. I really liked the food and there were very few people in the public areas while we were there. I spent time before and after breakfast standing near the pool and taking photos down into and across the Crater. My only problem at the Sopa was the water bottle in my bed that scared the living hell out of me.


Jczinn, there were outlets in our rooms at both Crater Sopa and Ndutu Safari Lodge. At Ndutu we did have to look for them a bit (under the bed in one room and under/behind the night stand in the other), but they were there.
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Feb 14th, 2012, 08:01 AM
  #14
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When comparing Ngorongoro Sopa rooms to Serena: Sopa wins!
in addition to the safari advantages (known on this forum for eons) as other stated
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