While I managed just fine selecting the camps for my safari I really had no real indicator for lodging in Arusha before heading out. The tour operator suggested either Gibbs Farm or Arusha Coffee Lodge and I think we made the right choice.
The lodge is part of the Elewana Collection which has outstanding properties within Tanzania. Also let me mention that for this trip, because of the proximity of the camps it is acceptable to drive in between camps although this may not always be recommended. So, I hired a private 4×4 and with a driver/guide. This means that I had access to my guide Jackson and the Toyota Defender at all times for a total of 4 days beginning with the Coffee Lodge and ending with the Plantation Lodge at the Ngorongoro Crater. Yes, I felt really pampered.
Now, back to the Coffee Lodge. This property really lived up to my expectations. You arrive off of a busy road that leads out of town in Arusha. Arusha is a bustling city with people going in all directions. Dressed in traditional Masai to jeans from young children to adults. This area is VERY dusty so I would recommend brining eyedrops and a mask actually. Although I brought the mask I did not bring the eye drops. Vendors are plentiful but not too aggressive. Shops mostly seem to sell items that we in the US may find in those old malls that used to be popular back in the 70s but now are full of stores with family names that sell electronics out in the burbs.
Anyway, when Jackson finally arrived we did our greetings threw everything in the truck and headed for the Lodge only stopping for a visit at this wonderful workshop Shanga which provides support for certain community members.
When we rolled past the gates to the lodge you could clearly see that this is a very impressive property. The entrance and grounds are beautiful and the staff sets off right away to make you feel special and pampered.
The reception is located outdoors and took minutes since everything on this safari is booked in advance.
As is customary, I discussed the next day’s agenda with Jackson before we went our separate ways only to meet up the next morning after breakfast to head to the Little Oliver’s Camp in Tangarie. Normally that’s the way it goes. The night before you talk with your guide to discuss the next day since you are on safari and they are there to make sure you have a great time while making recommendations. The plan was to arrive at Oliver’s by dinner. The drive to the park gates was about 2 hours and once there begin the game drive en route to Oliver’s which is located deep within the park. Note these are considered “Parks” but there are no gates just large designated areas for wildlife only.
The property is very quiet day and night. The rooms have ample space between them so you have no issue with privacy and seating at breakfast and dinner was not crowded. Service was outstanding from check-in to checkout and everything in between. I departed before the gift shop was open and someone at the restaurant offered to open the store for me and when I had a question about wi-fi the manager himself came out to personally address me.
I stayed in room 3 which was incredible!! Take a look at the pictures. The room had a working fire place, outdoor seating deck and the sleeping area was raised with seating area below. I really liked the idea of having each room as a stand alone structure. It made the accommodations very large. More like a suite. We dropped the bags and headed on a walking tour of the plantation as it is an actual working coffee plantation — learned a lot!
Only breakfast was included no drinks, no dinner. The staff was outstanding. Lots of little monkeys and smaller mammals as this is right outside of busy Arusha.
Although not far from the city it feels like you are in the country miles away from everything and when I say Arusha is a city, it may not be what folks in the states consider a ‘city’ as there are no tall buildings, actually didn’t see any over 2 stories high but the number of people, shops and vehicles would definitely put in mind of a large town.
Arusha Coffee Lodge was very impressive and sets high standards for the days to come. Folks normally arrive here a day or 2 max before heading out to the bush and I would recommend this property hands down.
The food was very good with great portions with outdoor and indoor seating areas.
A few things to note, wi-fi was very good, even in the rooms but the lighting within the bathrooms to apply makeup etc was poor. You may reach this property within 1 hour from the Kilimanjaro Airport.
As you can see I enjoyed this property and recommend a visit if you are on your way through Arusha.
Safari Camps Review – Asilia Africa Properties