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Naitolia Eco-Lodge nestles deep in an acacia and baobab stand in Tarangire Conservation Area, a 55 sq km wildlife management area that straddles the wildlife migration route into Tarangire National Park. Its innovative design and unique appearance have already won praise from far afield and the environmentally-friendly modus operandi has attracted attention from various Green organisations. It is the only lodge in Northern Tanzania that can make such a claim.
Naitolia is constructed entirely from local materials with low stone and grass walls, covered by grass thatched roof in the style of the traditional African banda. The only concession to modernity is the front façade made of canvas and shade cloth (mosquito netting) to afford guests uninterrupted views of the unfurling Lemiyon Plains from the comfort of the huge, timber four-poster beds.
Wherever possible the facilities have been carefully crafted from these same sources to create a rustic lodge full of character and charm with the design of the fittings and utilities making ingenious use of off-cuts, gnarled wood and organic materials to innovative effect. The communal mess area follows a similar theme - candle-lit dining area for the six guests, bar and small library, opening out onto the flat-topped acacias and open savannah before us - with elemental textures and colours creating a relaxed intimacy in natural harmony with the surroundings. This use of renewable natural materials and local furnishings, hand-made from natural elements, makes for a unique departure from the traditional tented camps of the safari circuit.
However, there is more to a night at Naitolia than the quality of the accommodation, for in addition to an exclusive lodge and personalised service, an exciting scope of options exists that cannot be found elsewhere on the Northern Circuit. If the thought of going beyond the usual limits of a game drive and venturing out at night to see the wildlife is one that has appealed then you might want to consider a night drive whilst at Naitolia - we can allow it because we can ensure low-impact tourism. There is something infinitely more exciting about driving through the African Savannah at night, with fleeting glimpses of shifting wildlife, hulking silhouettes of elephants and glimmering reflections of prowling eyes to keep you alert to the constant natural theatre around us.
Similarly, a foot safari or gentle nature walk in the vicinity of the eco-lodge is a chance to encounter the bio-diversity of Tanzania in a way that is forbidden elsewhere. As our Guides take you across the Plains to Sundowner Hill to watch the brilliant sunset smeared across the Rift Valley (with drinks and a return vehicle awaiting you), on a day trek to our remote treehouse fly-camp, or simply to the nearby waterhole, you find yourself noticing the prolific bird and plant life of the area from a perspective that a safari drive can never allow.
If an African safari has always implied a certain exclusivity, environmental integrity and a proximity to the surrounding lands and people, a couple of nights at Naitolia will finally define the experience for you. For those perhaps more used to buildings that enclose spaces rather than pay homage to the space around it, it is a very personal encounter with the thrall of East Africa.