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Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge.
  Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge
Getting there
The Ngorongoro Crater is situated 3–4 hours' drive (or 185 km/115 mi) from Arusha. The first 2.5 hours are on good to very good tarmac, the rest on poor to fair dirt road. You pass Lake Manyara National Park en route.
Travelling from the west, it's a 3-hour drive on mainly poor dirt road from central Serengeti to the crater rim, and one more hour to reach the lodge.
Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge is situated a one-hour drive from the crater rim airstrip, which is mainly operated by chartered flights. The airstrip isn't always open, because of fog or low clouds around the crater rim.
The eastern descent and ascent road into and out of the crater, used by safari-goers staying in Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge, is poor, but not by far as poor as the western descent and southern ascent roads.
Ngorongoro CA map
Map of Ngorongoro Conservation Area .
Ngorongoro Crater map
Map of the Ngorongoro crater.
Tanzania map
Tanzania map.
Safari glossary
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Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge
Ngorongoro Conservation Area
Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge is a large lodge on the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania. While the other lodges on the rim are situated to the south of the crater, Sopa Lodge is set on the eastern side. It is built at 2,375 m/7,792 ft above sea level, and offers good standard.

It has 92 rooms, each one with bedroom, lounge and bathroom. Most rooms are doubles, with space enough for an extra bed. The lodge has central heating, which may appear odd for an African destination, but the temperature may drop to or below 10ºC/50ºF during the coolest months, June and July. Evenings, nights and mornings are of course the coldest. The crater floor, where you do the game driving, is 700 m/2,300 ft lower and much warmer.

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Fireplaces and swimming pool
Fireplaces in the bar and restaurant add to the atmosphere in the evenings. The lodges also has a souvenir shop, and an outdoor swimming pool overlooking the crater. There are conference facilities for groups of up to 120 people.

A combined descent and ascent road not very far from the lodge makes access to the crater easy. You may take an extra look at the flat-topped trees along this road. They are Acacia lahai, an uncommon acacia species found in a few areas only.


The swimming pool, with  a grand view of the Ngorongoro Crater.

Room at Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge.

More about the Ngorongoro Crater
The Ngorongoro Crater, which is situated in a huge park called Ngorongoro Conservation Area, is all that remains from a high volcano that once stood here, but eventually collapsed. Today, the crater is known for its dense wildlife population; some tens of thousands of large mammals live in the crater.

Best known are the black rhinos (or browse rhinos), which are often seen on game drives in the crater. Other herbivores found are wildebeest, zebras, buffalos, gazelles, warthogs and hippopotamus. Large elephant bulls, some with truly impressive tusks, are often found around the marshes on the south-eastern crater floor.

Lions and cheetahs
There is also a healthy predator population; lions, cheetahs, hyaenas and jackals are often seen, while leopards, servals and bat-eared foxes may be spotted with some luck.

There are no lodges or camps on the crater floor, so the closest place to stay is on the crater rim, 600 m/2,000 ft or more above the floor. The descent and ascent roads to access the crater are very poor and require four-wheel drive. If you go there on a self-drive safari, you will probably be asked to hire an official guide at the park headquarters (located on the rim) to be allowed into the crater.

The Ngorongoro highlands
The Ngorongoro highlands, of which the Ngorongoro crater is one part, is an area of some ten extinct volcanoes, some of them reaching above 3,000 m/10,000 ft. Two of these volcanoes have, like Ngorongoro, collapsed and formed craters.

The nature and the views from the winding mountain roads are beautiful, and there are some nice areas for trekking. On most safari tours, the visit in Ngorongoro Conservation Area is focused on game driving in the Ngorongoro Crater, though. The crater floor is fairly small compared to other safari areas in the region, and a half or full day visit in the crater is fine.

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Page updated 18 February 2009