Results 1-2of 2 Reviews
Orchard Park, New York
May 27, 2009
From journal Safari in Northern Tanzania
October 15, 2004
The lodge is located well off the beaten track even by Serengeti standards: it's not near a year-round watering hole, and to reach it we had to bounce over almost 40km of mediocre track. During the migration, the bare land we drove through is apparently full of wildebeest, but we saw few animals on the plains on our way in. The main sight was the saltpan of Lake Ndutu, a vast, white flat which fills with water in the rainy season. It looks like the surface of the moon: beautiful, but inhospitable.
We felt that this was unpromising for our hotel, and when we arrived at the low, unostentatious buildings, we were not reassured. But no sooner did we get out of the jeep than our minds began to change. We were met as usual with the welcoming glass of fruit juice, but this was the first hotel to also give a glass of juice to our guide. This, we thought, was promising, and we were right.
The spirit of welcome pervades the Ndutu Lodge. It is a remarkably peaceful place, and set up to give its guests comfort and privacy. The tastefully decorated rooms are in small bungalows, two private rooms with bath per bungalow. Unlike most lodges we saw, there is no wall around the buildings to keep out large animals. Each room has a private porch facing towards the lake; when you sit on the built-in bench on your porch, you look across a narrow lawn, past a sign reading "Danger: No Walking Beyond This Point," across some tall grass, and then on straight into the wild. It’s a heck of a place to watch the sun rise.
The food at Ndutu (included in the rate) was particularly good. Dinner was served family-style, with large platters brought to our table. The cuisine was that unusual genre, good English cooking: meat, vegetables, and an excellent vegetarian gratin, with rhubarb pie for dessert; it was all very British, but far tastier than any English food I’ve eaten in England. Breakfast had a cold buffet component, which included some wonderful, spicy fruit compotes, as well as a full English breakfast.
There are other amenities, too. The gift shop is by far the best-stocked and most reasonably-priced of any we encountered. There’s a campfire behind the dining area, around which we sat with our Kilimanjaro beers or gin-and-tonics ($2) before dinner, defending our bowls of peanuts from hungry little birds. And as we sat there watching the stars come out, one of the waiters came to tell us that there was a genet (a kind of wildcat with a very long striped tail) sitting on one of the rafters in the bar. It comes in most evenings, he said.
We were sorry to leave. But on the way back through those bare plains we saw a cheetah.
From journal A Safari in Tanzania