Safari Diary 2014 – Rhotia Valley Tented Lodge [Lodge Review]

As you turn from the main tarmac road connecting Tarangire National Park and Ngorongoro Crater, past the beautiful sunflower field and the corn/ maize farms, towards Ngorongoro Highland on the slightly bumpy road toward Rhotia Valley, you are welcomed with refreshments by managers Evelyn and Arjan and their dog.

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Karibu Rhotia Valley Tented Lodge on a Journey To Africa Safari.

Rhotia Valley Tented Lodge.

Rhotia Valley Tented Lodge.

Rhotia Valley Tented Lodge has a wonderful soul. A portion of the proceeds fund the Children’s Home that is about a 10 minutes walk from the lodge. The Children’s Home takes care of about 40 kids, orphaned or some whose parents can’t afford to take care of them. They have made the home stand on its own by setting up a bakery. They produce enough bread to feed themselves and sell the surplus in Karatu. A win-win situation.  The children who played with us [my two kids were with me] greeted us as they were coming from school and spoke great English which they have picked up from volunteers as well as school.

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Rhotia Valley Children’s Home.

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Fun playing with the kids at Rhotia Valley Children’s home. From swings, football to talking about becoming pilots. Dream Big!!

About the lodge //

Rhotia Valley Tented Lodge is a rustic yet comfortable lodge. Each of the 15 rooms are comfortably sized with double beds or two double beds for our family of four. Hot water bottles were tucked in at night to keep you warm in the cold June nights.

In the bathroom,  they will explain why there is bucket near the shower – it is to collect the initial cold water before the hot water comes through. Keep the cold water bucket – they will use it to water their organic farm where they
grow a lot of their vegetables and herbs. Water heating and lights in the room are controlled by both solar power [9 -7 pm] and generators during the peak shower hours of [7-9 pm]. Drinking water that is provided will be plastic bottles or water purified via biofilter.

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Comfortable inside of the room. You can see the hot water bottles on top of the bed that will be filled up when you come back to your room after dinner.

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The organic farm where they grow most of their vegetables and herbs.

The food at night was delicious as well as the packed lunch. From the dining room, you can see the hustle bustle of the open kitchen and the charcoal fire that is preparing good food.

The views // Two sides //
From the fire-light front lounge deck and some of the rooms, you get the greenery from the farmlands of fertile Karatu Region. Corn or maize as Tanzanians call it, beans, sunflower … the list goes on. From the side facing the Ngorongoro Highlands, you have the greenery from the thick forest. Either way, you are in for some great views and amazing sounds of the birds in the morning.

Rhotia Valley is a wonderful place to spend a few days on Safari.

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You can see the children’s home in the distance. Rhotia Valley does a wonderful job supporting the kids of the Children’s Home.

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Room view from the south side of the lodge.

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Room view looking at Ngorongoro Highlands.

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The beautiful lounge area where you can enjoy your drink before dinner and enjoy the fire place. The dining area is right behind the lounge. At night, they close the canvas in the back to keep the cold wind out.

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The lovely deck. Lunch is sometimes taken from here.

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Safari Diary 2014 – Gibbs Farm [Lodge Review]

Our first night stop on our Tanzania Safari was the beautiful Gibbs Farm in Karatu Region close to Ngorongoro Crater gate. You pass through schools and homes of people in Karatu to get to the gate. Then you turn into Gibbs Farm and are welcomed by amazing lush vegetation. A garden with hundreds of species of plants.  Truly a green feast to your tired eyes.

You are welcomed with a rhubarb drink before you are escorted to your lovely cottage.  Each of the currently 17 cottages are beautiful decorated with soothing colors. Little touches like slippers are provided to wear inside the room. There is a fireplace in each of the rooms as Gibbs Farm is located high in the Ngorongoro Highlands and it can get cold here in the mornings and evenings. The bathroom also shares the fireplace. Each of the bathrooms have 1 indoor shower, 1 bathtub and 1 outdoor shower for the hotter days and bath shampoo + wash +lotion are provided. A change from the Safari lodges where water is scarce but at Gibbs Farm, water comes from a bore hole.

A Farm-to-Table concept.
90% of the food at Gibbs Farm comes from the farm right near the lodge. In fact, we woke up early to see the cow getting milked and the chickens laying eggs.

The lodge has a well curated art gallery where every 6 weeks they feature a new artist. Their in-house artists offers activities like making recycled paper – a fun break from Safari activities.  And they have a Maasai healer who comes to your cottage to give you a personal massage. Start slow with Lengare. He is a strong Maasai.

We will definitely recommend Gibbs Farm to you.

The lush plants and trees hidding each cottage from view.

The lush plants and trees hidding each cottage from view. A welcoming sight.

The cosy rooms each with their own fireplace.

The cozy rooms each with their own fireplace.  This was a family room but they have double rooms as well.

The bathroom with 3 options on how to clean after a Safari. Indoor shower, outdoor shower or tub. Choices!

The bathroom with 3 options on how to clean after a Safari. Indoor shower, outdoor shower [surrounded by all the greenery] or tub. Choices!

The lush view from the room. Enjoy your morning coffee from here.

The lush view from the room. Enjoy your morning coffee from here.

The morning mist from the main lounge area. The coffee plantation is hidden in the mist.

The morning mist from the main lounge area. The coffee plantation is hidden in the mist.

Art Gallery in the main lounge area. They offer shipping to your home.

Art Gallery in the main lounge area. They offer shipping to your home.

The cow heading to the barn after getting milked. A morning activity to enjoy.

The cow heading to the barn after getting milked. A morning activity to enjoy.

An assortment of breakfast jams. Majority made at Gibbs Farm from their own produce.

An assortment of breakfast jams. Majority made at Gibbs Farm from their own produce.

The dining room with large windows  and beautiful fireplace.

The dining room with large windows and beautiful fireplace.

Make memories on Safari with Journey To Africa.
Get in touch //
Email – Safari@JourneyToAfrica.com
Call us – 1.877.558.6288

Pack for a Purpose

Planning for the Safari is done. Now, the packing fun begins.

For my camera gear, I am renting a 70-300 f4-5.6 L from Houston Photo Rental for my Canon T3i.  I will have about two 32GB cards, flash, my laptop to download the pictures at night and get some work done where wi-fi is available. June is going to be a cooler month [70-50F range] so more long sleeves and pants. Since I am walking in Serengeti [terribly excited] trekking shoes are a must. Can not forget SPF, hat, sunblock and my trusty scarf.

What else? School supplies. A lot of lodges that we partner with are members of this great organization called Pack for a Purpose. They work with the lodges around the world, identifying what they need for their community school and ask us tour operators to let our clients know what they can bring – 5 lbs of supplies or whatever you are comfortable carrying.

Lodges on they are currently partnered with that we will be stopping by :
Onsea House in Arusha
Gibbs Farm in beautiful Karatu Region
Rhotia Valley right outside Ngorongoro Gate
Sayari Camp – we will pass our supplies to this lovely camp on our way to Olakira Camp
Ras Nungwi Beach Resort in Zanzibar Island
Chem Chem Safari between Lake Manyara and Tarangire National Park

Looking forward to making someone’s day when in Tanzania.
Life Worth Exploring!

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Pre-primary kids playing at Rhotia Valley Tented Camp
[picture taken by Rhotia Valley]

Plantation Lodge

When planning your Journey To Africa Safari, we usually like using lodges where we have overnighted, spent time with the manager or owner, enjoyed a meal or coffee / tea with some cookies and pastry, seen what they offer for activities or entertainment + more – we want to be able to tell you about the lodge first hand.


Plantation Lodge.

Owned and operated by Renate and Udo Marahens, the lodge is located in Karatu Region about 20 minutes away from Ngorongoro Crater gate. This lovely lodge was first visited on our research Safari in year 2000. It was in its early stages of operation. Renate and Udo had recently opened Plantation Lodge after having successful managed Rhino Lodge also in Karatu. Our last visit was in October 2009 – we can not wait to go back to Plantation Lodge.

My relationship with the Marahens goes a long way back when living in Arusha.  They were coffee farmers in the 80s and they would come to get supplies from Tanganyika Farmer’s Association, a company where my father worked. They had been based in the Karatu Region long before Tanzanian tourism started taking off with more lodges and better infrastructure.

Why Plantation Lodge?

Plantation Lodge offers excellent food with most of the produce grown locally in their garden near the lodge.  Spend time in the  large well decorated wine cellar with a glass of wine, beer and other drinks from all over the world but mostly from Southern Africa.  Enjoy their coffee locally roasted in Karatu- one of the best coffee producing regions in my opinion. Lunch can be enjoyed outside in the beautiful gardens and dinner in served in the large dining area or enjoy a private dinner outside in the patio.

The lodge grounds are amazing. The lush garden with Arabica coffee bushes overlooking the Ngorongoro Highlands or the nearby farms, a large avocado tree that produces avocados the size of a football – American football, the eucalyptus and jacaranda trees providing lovely shade during the hot days, an array of beautiful flowers from iris to bougainvillea and frangipani well maintained by gardeners  with green thumbs. Enjoy the orchestra of many bird species serenading you when you are outside enjoying your coffee, taking notes on your Safari or inside the lounge area having fresh baked cakes or sipping tea as the windows are always open.

Talking about coffee, ask them to take you on a tour of the local coffee farm and see the very beginning steps of how your favorite cup of coffee gets produced.

The rooms are spacious [even the non-suite], tastefully simplistically decorated with flowers and personal touches and with balconies where you can enjoy the beautiful garden and the views out in the horizon. They also have a family suite with two rooms and a Garden House which has four rooms, perfect for large families or a large group with its own dining area.


They have a pool which can be used during the daytime. During the cool season [April to August], you would have to be brave to dip in the cool pool but during the hot months [September to March], a cool dip may be just the perfect way to end a dusty Safari day or enjoy an afternoon siesta with a good book and enjoy the bird sounds and trees rustling.

As I have mentioned before in my food post, Safari is hard work. Lots of delicious eating you know. Well, you need a massage afterward. In comes the fabulous masseuse Sumaya. Her touch is heavenly. You can choose from a full body massage to foot massage. Book her when you first check-in. You will come out refreshed.

Karibu on a Journey To Africa Safari and enjoy a night, two or more at Plantation Lodge. We definitely have a blast staying here.

Some photos courtesy of Plantation Lodge.