Thursday, March 11, 2010

Lost in a Salvador Dali Painting

The Ngorongoro Crater Lodge

The name alone – Ngorongoro Crater - conjures images of grandeur, a landscape so mighty it takes any breath away. After stepping off the vehicle to absorb our first view of the crater, I could hear us all take in a lung full of air… and as we exhaled the condensed mist moved away from us and over the Crater rim to join the thick white blankets spotted around the edge. I have never known such a natural emerald green – all around us, hills upon hills of rolling velvet. I gave a shudder, slightly overcome by my senses, and headed back to the vehicle for the warmth of my blanket.

It’s an extraordinary thing – a view. It consumes you entirely and embeds itself deep in your memory. An overwhelming sense of inferiority- comparatively, and yet it feels comfortable: as it ought to be. The colour of the crater through an afternoon mist, everything slightly ethereal and intangible. The dark thunderclouds in the distance moving swiftly over the plains on the floor. It inspires a great human emotion – gratitude, appreciation for witnessing such a spectacle.

Meandering down towards the rim’s edge, the Ngorongoro Crater Lodge is hidden inconspicuously behind a small boom. The crowds are noticeable on the roads, but as soon as we enter the Crater Lodge grounds all of that is forgotten. Our fabulous French friends remarked “Il est juste comme Alice au pays des merveilles!” (It’s just like Alice in Wonderland!) There is no white rabbit running around mentioning time – time has no place here. This is another world.

The architecture is inspired by the maasai Manyatta – mud and stick homestead style. That mixed with flamboyant fabrics, rich silks and decadent dining is your world here, and every now and again you are reminded you are in the bush by the nyati (buffalo) grazing on the lodge grounds. At no point is reality allowed in the gate.

The game in the crater was, needless to say, incredible. Overstocked with hyena, lazy lions and big tuskers, heavy with ivory. However for me this was not the highlight. The sheer magnitude of this caldera, and the beauty all around is what won me over, hands down.

&Beyond have done an incredible job here; the management and staff are flawless, attneding to your every need and going as far as to advise your footwear for the day, depending on the weather conditions. If you can find fault here, your expectations of African 5 star are seriously out of kilter.

Mind you, who can fault a Dali?

~ hibiscus


  1. Well done to Impi and the General - we are proud of you! How about the Cape Argus next year - should be a walk (ride) in the park for you guys!!

  2. some caviar for breakfast would have been nice ;-)