Kitela Lodge sits on a gentle hillside above an expansive coffee farm, among neatly maintained lawns, flower beds and an impressive vegetable garden. It is on the edge of the Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area, where local tribes are encouraged to follow their traditional lifestyles, whilst protecting the local flora and fauna which attract tourists on vacation in Africa who provide the income which supports the conservation effort. In the distance rise forested hills enclosing a beautiful waterfall backed by the Eastern rim of the Ngorongoro Crater, wildlife haven par excellence and one of the most popular Tanzanian destinations for AfricanMecca Safaris guests. It is a designated UNESCO World Heritage site because, as the largest collapsed volcano in Africa, it is surrounded by an unbroken caldera rim which encloses a safe and stable environment with year-round water and grazing, where up to 30,000 mammals gather at any one time, including many rare and threatened species.
Amazing landscapes of lakes, craters, and forested escarpments make delightful Kitela Lodge safari and tour destinations accessible. Historic Olduvai Gorge, considered the birthplace of mankind, also lies within striking distance. This Tanganyika Wilderness accommodation is only 8 kilometers from Karatu town, a progressive rural center which can be reached by road from Arusha. Built in the style of an old colonial farm, with a main building surrounded by charmingly rustic thatched cottages comprising 20 suites of impressively spacious rooms, Kitela Lodge provides attractive accommodation for deluxe seeking guests on a safari holiday in Tanzania with Serengeti Trips.
The grounds and rooms are well-designed, most attractive, and relaxing. En-suite bathrooms have showers with solar hot water. Large, airy bedrooms feature comfortable beds in various configurations. There are four interconnected suites comprising of five with king sized beds, three triple rooms with 3 bed, and twelve twin beds, all under shared mosquito nets. There are wide, wall-set fireplaces for chilly evenings. All suites have telephones. The decor features stone-clad walls, lounge chairs, ample electric wall lights, table lamps, French windows/doors and vases of fresh flowers.
Requires a minimum stay of 2 nights
Yes, Arusha City Guide understant that your journey to the airport at the beginning of your holiday, as well as making it to your hotel or villa when you arrive in Tanzania needn’t be as difficult as you think. If you choose not to drive to your departure airport, there are a host of other options to choose from including coach, or booking a private car or taxi.. Above we’ve the best value offers to get you on your way. (Tanzania airport transfers) Likewise, if you book a holiday where transfers aren’t included, you needn’t be worried about where to go when you arrive.
We realize that every traveler’s journey is different, and so we provide you an efficient, low cost, fixed fares airport transportation service (Tanzania airport transfers)., operating 24/7 days a week between all airports in Tanzania to all destinations, resorts, major attractions sites and National Parks all over Tanzania and nearby countries. We offer step by step booking process, that allows you 100% accurate prices for your airport taxis, Minibuses, Shuttles, Coach, Safari Vehicles and private hire journeys in cities and attractions in Tanzania.
Karatu is within the Arusha District. It is best reached by car or bus from Arusha. The 150 km on a decent road will take just over two hours. The international airport for Arusha is Kilimanjaro Airport (JRO), about 45 minutes away from the city.
A cheaper option is to take a bus or dala dala. This can take up to three hours and should be between 5000-7000 Tsh. These can often get crowded and for the cheap price you often miss out on comfort. It is generally advisable to take a bus that arrives before night falls for safety reasons.
If you are willing to splurge a bit more money, a small plane to the Lake Manyara airstrip is also recommendable. Coastal Aviation and Air Excel both fly from Arusha to Manyara for around 100 US$ as a stopover on their way to the Serengeti. Watch out because this flight is most likely leaving from Arusha Airport, a small local airport, rather than Kilimanjaro Airport, which you might have arrived from via an international flight. From the Manyara airstrip, it is about a 30 minute drive to Karatu, either by taxi or through a transfer arranged by us.
Karatu can be visited all year around, but as you will normally be visiting Karatu in combination or as as a base for safaris in the adjacent National Parks, it is best to stick to the dry season from June to October. Due to the Ngorongoro Crater’s special geography, animal sighting is good all year around but from June to October the grass is shorter, making it easier to spot animals. This is also true for Lake Manyara, although both parks become beautifully luscious and green in the wet season. Especially Ngorongoro Crater can get very crowded in the dry season, so you might find it a bit nicer in the wet season. Some roads can get too muddy and thus unpassable in the wet season but this should not overall take away from your safari experience.
Karatu is often just seen as a junction between the big safari parks of the Northern Circuit, but there is actually many things to do in and around Karatu that are worth a visit. The busting little town center itself has lots of opportunities for cultural tourism - why don’t shop for some souvenirs in the market, visit a coffee farm or even try brewing your own beer? Two organisations specialise in cultural tourism in Karatu, and along with your hotels, these are best able to set up activities for you. The Ganako Cultural Tourism Program organises sustainable tours in and around Karatu, donating proceeds to a local charity. Iraqw Karatu also organises various activities, offering fascinating insights into the local tribe’s culture. You can discover some of these places, like the market, on your own, but with most of cultural tourism it is often best to stick to an organised tour, where a guide can teach you about local customs and ensure an appropriate approach to the population. Check out our section down below for responsible tourism in Karatu to find out more. Here are some of the activities we recommend:
- Experience the Karatu Market - on the 7th and 25th of each month, local traders will come to Karatu for a big market, offering you the possibility to view beautifully crafted items, buy some souvenirs, and put your haggling skills to good use. The market on the 25th is a bit smaller, but even if none of these dates overlap with your itinerary, there is a daily small market in the town centre as well.
- Visit a Coffee Farm - Tanzania has excellent coffee and the farming of the plant is especially popular in the North of the country. There are several beautiful coffee farms for you to visit or even stay on (see our Where to stay section), learn about coffee making and drink the coffee while enjoying the beautiful countryside.
- Beer Brewing - Ganako is able to organise a trip to a local beer brewing facility, giving you a taste of a self brewed beer and a truly cultural experience.
- Brick Making - This craft is an important industry in the area and constitutes the livelihood for much of its population.
- Enjoy the local street food or a traditional Iraqw meal (organised both by Ganako and Iraqw Karatu) - whether it is ugali (maize porridge), chips mayai (fries with eggs) or cassava, the street food is bound to give you a good introduction into Tanzanian life. If you decide to do this on your own, stick to cooked food to prevent any tummy issues.
- Homestays or visits to traditional homesteads - Ganako and Iraqw are both able to organise this opportunity to see how local Tanzanians are living and even stay with them for a night.
- Biking Trips - there are many pathways around Karatu that are perfect for exploring the area by bike.
- Visit developmental and eco projects in the area to see how communities and NGOs interact to create more sustainable livelihoods in the area.
Day Trips from Karatu
Other than as a stopover for the big national parks, Karatu is also perfect as a base for making day trips to local attractions. Ganako and Iraqw Karatu offer hikes to Mlima Nyoka (Snake Hill) for a wide reaching view of the surrounding landscape, the Rift Valley, as well as day trips to the old German settlement Oldean to learn about the country’s colonial past and the stunning Lake Eyasi. The latter is still unknown to most tourists and thus offers secluded enjoyment of the beautiful lake and flora and fauna. At Lake Eyasi, you can also visit the Hadzabe Bushmen, one of the last remaining hunting and gathering people of East Africa and even go hunting with them.
The dominant tribe in Karatu are the Iraqw, a predominantly Christian people. Their language is linguistically specific as it has its origins in Ethiopia. They are agricultural people and benefit from selling cultural products such as pottery to tourists in the Ngorongoro area.
The Hadzabe Bushmen live around Lake Eyasi and are one of the last remaining hunting and gathering people in East Africa. Only around 1000 still live around the Lake, as the Tanzanian government is slowly encroaching on their terrain. A visit to the Hadzabe feels like a jump back in time. Their language is called Hadzane and relies on click sounds.
The Datoga also live close to Lake Eyasi and are agriculturalists and craftsmen. They have a warrior reputation and are most known for the circular tattoos on their faces. They are extremely isolated and only 5% speak Swahili, Tanzania’s national language. Literacy and education rates are extremely low. Their language has Ethiopian and South Sudanese roots and they are believed to have migrated south thousands of years ago.
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