(Photo Credit: Sopa Lodges)
Stanford met us after breakfast and we were on the road to Ngorongoro Crate. The drive from Little Oliver’s to Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge was approximately 5 hours. The first 2 hours we retraced our drive in.
Norgongoro Sopa lodge was a departure from our other accommodations. I chose to give up a more luxurious and/or authentic camp for ‘location, location, location’. It had one of the best views of any of the lodges on the Crater rim. Facing the always magnificent sunsets to the west, and located at the highest point on Ngorongoro crater’s entire rim, it offers unparalleled views across this enormous caldera. It had one of the best positions on the crater rim for weather. It had its own access road to the crater floor. The Crater gets very busy. I did not want to spend an hour or more just getting to the crater entrance and then waiting in a line to enter. It is recommended that you enter the crater around 7 am. We would be spending less than 12 hours at the lodge.
The Sopa is an older more traditional lodge. And large. 92 rooms. The rooms are somewhat dated, but comfortable. Having done much research and read many reviews, there were no surprises. It is apparent that it was once lavishly decorated, a grand dame. The Sopa Lodge is based around an impressive glass-fronted central atrium that overlooks the swimming pool. It’a too cold to swim, although people were. Viewing the sunsets from either the comfortable lobby bar area or outside deck, with raging fires, was a perfect way to relax.
If you are looking for something with a little more character, charm or opulence, this would not be my choice. Ngorongoro Crater Lodge would my first choice for luxury accommodations on the crater rim. But be prepared to spend 4 times as much. There are also many wonderful choices further away from the crater.
Food was not great and served buffet style in a large dining room. Staff was attentive and honored my husband with a birthday cake and traditional dance. The cake was pretty good.
Be aware that hot water for showers is only available at certain times. Several hours in the morning and then again in the evening.
Again, this lodge was chosen very intentionally. We did not want to miss the crater, but efficient use of our time was important.
The lodge is an hour and a half’s drive from Manyara airstrip and 3 and half hours from Arusha.