The soul and passion of this lodge is obvious and infectious. It is not only perfect for visiting the Ngorongoro Crater, but you make a real difference to the lives of those in the local area by staying here.
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The charming Rhotia Valley Tented Lodge was built in 2007 as part of the “Rhotia Valley Project” to support the local community. Its 15 tented rooms are perched on a hill in Rhotia near the town of Karatu, The lodge has breathtaking views of the Ngorongoro forest, nearby villages and the terraced fields of the local farmers.
Occupying a quiet corner of Tanzania, you would be forgiven for forgetting that its position is key on the popular northern Tanzania safari circuit. It can be used as a base for those exploring Lake Manyara or the Ngorongoro Crater, both of which are only around 30 minutes away. Guests will normally visit Rhotia Valley with their own guide as part of a tailor-made private driven safari through northern Tanzania’s famous parks, and as such, travelling north is ideal for those heading north coming from Manyara or Tarangire and then using it as a base to visit the Ngorongoro Crater.
The lodge was built alongside Rhotia Valley Children’s Home, which aims to provide a safe and caring home for orphans from the local community. It also provides employment to the local community through the lodge, a farm, a bakery and a coffee shop called Coffee Corner. Guest are welcome to visit these projects as well as meeting the children resident at the Children’s Home or even go back to school with a visit to a local school.
Because of everything that Rhotia Valley offers beyond just a base to visit the crater, to recommend two or even three nights here.
Rhotia Valley’s 15 permanent tents aim to be rustic and raw. The canvas structures are built on raised wooden decks and suspended under a thatched roof. They compromise a number of different layouts, including doubles, twins, triples, a honeymoon tent and a family unit. The rooms have comfortable beds, a desk and a chair, as well as a chair on each tent's private verandah and an en-suite bathroom with a shower and constant hot water. Given that the lodge is located at an altitude of 1,700m, it can get chilly, especially during winter, so guests are provided with warm blankets and hot water bottles.
Although the lodge has the ethos of functional simplicity in the main area, you will still find a glittering swimming pool, a welcome treat after a day in the car on safari, a terrace bar and a comfortable lounge and dining room complete with roaring open fires.
The lodge is surrounded by forests and farmland, and walks can be arranged to explore this on foot. For those who really want to tick off some miles, it is possible to do a full-day walk from the crater rim through the forested crater descent back to the lodge; a walk of around 6 hours.
Facilities at Rhotia Valley include a swimming pool and terrace bar with far-reaching views over the beautiful scenery. Guests also have the chance to visit the farm, bakery and coffee shop attributed to the lodge, which provides much-needed employment opportunities to local villages.
The menu at Rhotia Valley includes ingredients picked directly from the farm on site; this includes two herb and vegetable gardens and some livestock which fuel the bakery and cheese dairy.
Having won various awards over the years, such as the “Best Community Focused Property in Tanzania”, visitors to Rhotia Valley will notice instantly the strong, responsible, and sustainable ethics of the lodge. To mention just a few of the initiatives in place: 90% of the member's staff at the lodge, farm, bakery and coffee shop come from the local community, and 20% of the nightly rate you pay to stay at the lodge goes directly to the children’s home, and the also lodge aims to adhere to the 10 principles of the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism. This is a road map for responsible tourism development implemented by the United Nations' World Tourism Organisation.