Karatu: The Different Adventures Available in the Town
Karatu’s Top Ten Recreational Activities in Tanzania
In Karatu Tanzania, we took a break from our wildlife safari and expended two daylights in the lively town. Karatu is situated on the northern safari route, between Lake Manyara and the Ngorongoro Crater. The Ngorongoro Highlands can be reached via this gate. The name “Safari Junction” was coined because of its handy location, where many safari travelers sleep or take a short stopover.
Safari cars, local buses, and brilliantly colored tuk-tuks share the route with Maasai herders and ox-carts, while Iraqw farms and villages blend into the lush Ngorongoro Forest setting just beyond Karatu district. If you look up the most incredible things to do in Karatu Tanzania on the Internet, you might get the impression that there aren’t any.
We visited a Karatu brewery, a coffee farm, the Ngorongoro Forest in search of waterfalls and elephant caves, and an Iraqw homestead in addition to taking in some of the peaceful countrysides outside of town. We also visited the town’s market and heard about the town’s brickmaking sector.
Consider a stop in this overlooked town if you’re looking for cultural tours, hiking and bicycling opportunities, a chance to experience rural Tanzania at its most peaceful, or simply a break from dusty safari game drives. Here are our top ten recommendations for things to do in Karatu, Tanzania, based on our own experiences.
Karatu, Tanzania’s Top Ten Recreational Activities:
In Karatu, as previously stated, there are few guides on what to do. When it comes to Ngorongoro, Lonely Planet calls Karatu “a charmless settlement 14 kilometers southeast of Lodoare gate that serves as a suitable base for visiting Ngorongoro if you want to save money; on entry fees.
Although Karatu isn’t a beautiful town, we found it a pleasant buzzing town that serves as a great place to unwind between game parks and an excellent destination for cultural tourism.
On the recommendation of Richard, coordinator of the Karatu Cultural Tour, we hired a local tour guide to help us explore the area. KCECHO, a Karatu-based non-profit organization, receives the money from the cultural trips to support local environmental, educational, and health projects.
You may like to see the Foundation for African Medicine and Education (FAME hospital Karazu), a state-of-the-art hospital.
Ganako Karatu and your hotelier, who may have alternative options, can schedule nearly all the activities described here. Our top 10 Karatu activities are presented here in no particular order.
Karatu tours are a great way to pass a few hours. Take a stroll around the colorful market, where everything from Tinga Tinga paintings to carved wooden souvenirs is on sale. This is a great place to meet the locals and barter for goods.
You may want to stop for fried cassava, chapati or fried flatbread, or fried bananas from a street vendor as you travel. To be safe, I’d only eat hot, prepared foods.
Small mobile kiosks with colorful American names like Mrs. Obama and John Kerry gift shops (there’s even an Obama Hotel in town) featured on The Amazing Race can be found along the main route. Visit a brickmaking facility, as brickmaking is a key local industry, and the process is fascinating to watch.
The Karatu Tourism Program or your hotel can help you plan a more in-depth tour of the town.
Consume Coffee from the Local Roaster
Compared to neighboring nations like Ethiopia and Kenya, Tanzania’s coffee may not be as well-known. Still, it has been grown there for decades and is one of Tanzania’s most important exports. Karatu is a suitable growing area because of the mineral-rich volcanic soil and the height of the northern highlands.
Gibbs Farm and Shangri-La Estate, which produces Kifaru Coffee (formerly known as Ngorongoro Coffee), the Ngila Coffee Estate, and Blackburn Coffee Estate, are located in Karatu.
Simply partaking in the local brew at your lodge or living on a working farm and coffee plantation like Gibb’s Farm or the Shangri-La Estate can demonstrate your interest in the local mixture or purchase a bag of beans to bring back home.
You can schedule a tour to a coffee plantation through one of the local Karatu lodges or Ganako-offices.
Exploring the Local Brewery
While visitors to Karatu are encouraged to sample the local coffee, we learned that the town also provides a more adventurous brew for those willing. It’s typical to have a guide accompany you, but almost any local will be able to point you on the proper path.
Our tour guide, Richard, led us through a maze of back alleys and narrow passageways to get to the local brewery. The beer is brewed in a smoky room, then fermented, bottled, and served in another large room. Sample a cup of beer for less than a buck at this establishment.
Because Richard was concerned about our stomachs, they agreed to serve us freshly boiled Karatu beer (the safety and sanitation standards are not exactly up to par with Coors). A woman scooped a plastic cup of warm beer out of a plastic bucket with a spoon. Due to the residual grains, the beer felt warm and chewy, but the flavor was surprisingly light and smooth.
Before we left, we struck up a brief friendship with a few of the brewery’s regulars. A few other locals were milling maize and other grains for brewing and distilling, which we saw on the way.
Making a Difference in the World by Doing Our Part
Numerous volunteer and charitable opportunities in and around Karatu benefit local schools and orphanages, community centers, churches, and the environment. Depending on your interests and history, you may be able to spend only a few hours or a few months exploring these possibilities.
Aside from direct contact with children, it’s less disruptive to help out in other ways, such as making school furniture, erecting a fence at an orphanage, collecting classroom materials, or painting the walls of their classroom. Deciding on a project in advance allows the organizer to better prepare for your arrival.
A donation of money or materials can help a local charity even if you can’t volunteer your time (e.g., school or medical supplies). A visit to the non-profit Karatu clinic and hospital run by American husband-and-wife team Dr. Susan Gustafson and Frank Artres was a no-brainer for us because of our previous healthcare experience.
Our conversations were very heartening during our visit to Dr. Susan and Frank. The infirmary is an excellent example of what people can achieve when they spend their time making a difference! You can reserve a free guided tour of FAME in advance.
Each year, we donate a portion of our blogging profits to a different charity, and this year, we’ve chosen FAME. You may learn more about it and FAME by visiting this page.
Exploring through the Karatu Iraqw Bazaar
Karatu hosts a massive market on the seventh day of every month, with a smaller one on the 25th. Iraqi vendors at this bi-monthly market offer handicrafts for animals, spices, clothing, home goods, and pottery.
Indulge your taste for this uniqueness and get fresh air at the market. You can still visit the Karatu town market even if your visit doesn’t match the market’s dates.
Fun fact! Karatu tanzanite is highly prized by collectors and gemstone enthusiasts due to its exceptional quality and color. You can purchase a karatu tanzanite ring at a karatu store.
Learn About the Unique Karatu Culture of Iraqw
The Cushitic-speaking ethnic group known for its agricultural prowess, the Iraqw are known as one of the best. It’s possible to discover more about the Iraqw culture in the Karatu region by mingling with them in local markets, visiting their villages, or arranging a homestay. The trip from Ganako-Karatu to an area just outside Karatu, which is thickly packed with tiny Iraqw settlements, farms, and residences, was led by Richard, who had invited us to join him.
Even though most now live in modern homes, some Iraqis still live in traditional mud, twig, and straw houses. As hostile tribes in the past with the Maasai, they built their huts against the slopes of hills to keep their cattle from being stolen. The enemies would stroll straight up and down on the roofs, oblivious to the fact that the Iraqw were inside their homes with their goats and sheep.
In addition to seeing some traditional homes, we met people who cared for their livestock and crops, as well as those who taught us how to grind and pound maize.
We also went to the farm of a charming Iraqi woman, her eight children, and her mother, who lives in a traditional Iraqi home. They have been earning a living since their husband/father left them several years ago. Wooden chairs greeted us as we entered, and tea mugs were placed in front of us. Thanks to Richard’s translation, we interacted with the family, even though none spoke English.
The home contains a goat corral at the center of the house and a cattle fence on its exterior. It was depressing to see how modestly the family gets by, and it’s clear that they have to work hard to get enough to eat and wear.
We learned from Richard that this family relies on the additional revenue from visits (Richard supplies them with money from each tour, and they frequently receive tips from guests) to nourish their children.
If you appreciate the hospitality of a family in Karatu when you visit their home, it’s encouraging to make a little financial (preferably in Tanzanian shillings) or food donation.
Looking for Elephant Caves and Waterfalls in the Forest and Highlands of Ngorongoro
A trek through the Ngorongoro Forest is an excellent addition to the Karatu trip for nature lovers. A guide will accompany you as you learn about medicinal plants, view waterfalls cascading down a cliff, and see elephant caves (critical in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area). If you’re lucky, you may also come across elephants, buffalo, baboons, and other reptiles in the forest.
As elephants gather in the so-called elephant caves to extract salt and other minerals from the earth, many other animals do as well. Elephant and buffalo feces littered the roads, and vegetation had been ravaged by their hooves. We only spotted baboons and birds.
Ngorongoro Conservation Authority guides must accompany you throughout the route, whether you enter it alone or with a local guide. Due to the moderate activity level of the hike, the Endoro Gate Post is open from 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Bring sunscreen, a hat, and insect repellent for the outdoors. The odds of spotting a buffalo or elephant are small, but these creatures use these trails daily, so be careful.
Hike or Ride a Bike Across the Karatu Countryside
In Karatu, you can walk about on your own two feet instead of being locked up in a safari van all day. It doesn’t matter if you want to take a leisurely bike ride through the rolling hills of rural Tanzania, go for a hike through the dense Ngorongoro Highland Forest, or scale a mountain for panoramic vistas.
A qualified local guide can also offer tours that focus on a specific specialty, such as medicinal plants or ornithology. Although you are outside the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, that doesn’t mean the wildlife you see in Karatu respects the boundaries. There have been reports of buffalo and baboons, hyenas, and pushback in the Karatu countryside.
Find out about bike rentals (regular or mountain) and picturesque walking and trekking options from your hotelier.
Use Karatu as a Ground for Daily Expeditions
Due to the town’s proximity to the entrance gate of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and the prospect of saving money on admission fees and lodging, many low-cost camping safari companies use Karatu as a base for visits to the surrounding Ngorongoro Crater.
Visitors to Karatu can take day trips to Lake Manyara, Lake Eyasi (home to the Hadzabe Bushmen), Mlima Nyoka (climb “Snake Hill” for amazing views), Oldean Settlement (an ancient German village), and treks along the Rift Valley, in addition to seeing the Ngorongoro Crater from here.
It’s also a good starting point for a trip to Tarangire National Park, although we don’t suggest it due to the long drive and the limited time you’ll have in the park.
A day trip may necessitate more travel time, which should be weighed against any savings or convenience realized by staying in Karatu.
Unwind and Rejuvenate at Karatu
Most visitors come to Karatu after enduring dusty, bumpy roads, traveling in Jeeps to see local wildlife, and eating lunch out of a box from their journey. Some have been on safari for just a few days, while others have been on it for a few weeks. Karatu is a great place to relax and refresh one’s batteries while on vacation.
It can be the perfect place to unwind with a comfortable bed, a day off from safari tours, and rural Tanzania’s tranquillity. A wide range of housing alternatives is available in Karatu, from basic campsites to posh hotels and resorts. During our two-night vacation at the Karatu Simba Lodge, we could relax by the pool, read and blog, go hiking, partake in traditional festivities, and sleep. Consider staying at Gibb’s Farm, a lodge that offers massages and other spa services, if you’re looking for a little extra pampering. Here you’ll find a list of Karatu’s hotel alternatives.
To appreciate the experience and to give your back a break from the bumpy roads, you may need a break from seeing lions and elephants every day!
Karatu Tanzania Weather
The climate in Karatu is classified as tropical savanna, with distinct wet and dry seasons throughout the year.
The rainy season in Karatu typically lasts from March to May and again from October to December. During this time, the weather Karatu consists of rainfall, which can sometimes cause flooding. The average temperature during the rainy season is around 25°C (77°F).
The dry season in Karatu occurs from June to September and again from January to February. During this time, the weather is generally warm and dry, with temperatures ranging from around 17°C (63°F) to 27°C (81°F).
Hotels in Karatu Tanzania
Check out these amazing karatu hotels and lodges in karatu:
Country Lodge Karatu
The country lodge karatu ngorongoro is located on the outskirts of Karatu. It embodies simple country comforts, providing pleasant and affordable lodging in the heart of Tanzania’s rich and scenic northern highlands and coffee estates.
Octagon Lodge Karatu Tanzania
The Octagon lodge Karatu is a small and private lodge located twenty minutes from the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Gate in Karatu, Tanzania. It is situated on six acres of land, the beautiful gardens are teeming with various plants and bird life.
They have traditionally designed en-suite chalets, rooms, family rooms and two bedroom cottage.
Acacia Farm Lodge Karatu Tanzania
The acacia lodge karatu is a romantic Country Lodge nestled in an active mixed farm located high on the spectacular Great Rift’s escarpment area with commanding panoramic views of the amazing Karatu farmlands and the nearby Ngorongoro forest area. It is a perfect base from which to explore these four magnificent natural attractions in Tanzania.
Bougainvillea Safari Lodge Karatu
The bougainvillea lodge karatu located a few minutes from the Ngorongoro Conservation Area gate. The bougainvillea lodge karatu tanzania offers comfortable accommodation, excellent food and friendly service at a reasonable price. Each comfortable room in the bougainvillea safari lodge karatu tanzania has a fireplace; family cottages and triples are available. There is a comfortable lounge and bar as well as a swimming pool and gift shop.
The manager and executive chef of bougainvillea karatu is Reggie Bayo. He has many years of experience and his food is legend on the northern safari circuit.
Kitela Lodge Karatu
The kitela lodge karatu tanzania sits on the hillside of a valley with beautiful views of a coffee plantation and a waterfall within the incredible highlands of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area.
It is one of the best hotels in karatu because it offers luxurious chalet type bedrooms with lots of amenities.
Marera Lodge Karatu
The marera valley lodge karatu is located on the outskirts of Karatu town about midway between Lake Manyara and the Ngorongoro Crater. It is the newest addition to the Bougainvillea Group.
Other Cheap Hotels in Karatu
- Karatu Safari Camp Lodge
- Karatu Tented Lodge
- The retreat at ngorongoro Karatu Tanzania
- Kudu Lodge Karatu
- Ngorongoro farm house Karatu Tanzania
- Plantation lodge Karatu Tanzania
- Tloma lodge Karatu Tanzania
- Crater rim view inn Karatu
- Gibb’s farm Karatu Tanzania
- Highview hotel Karatu Tanzania
- Pamoja lodge Karatu
- Flamingo safari lodge Karatu
Traveling to Karatu Tanzania
If you’re traveling from arusha to karatu, you can get there by car. The karatu arusha tanzania distance is 140km. It takes approximately 2hr 22m to travel from karatu to arusha.
Our list of the ten best things to do in Karatu Tanzania has ended! Karatu is a delightful town with a lively atmosphere, perfect for a quick getaway between game parks or as a starting point for cultural exploration. Travelers traveling through Karatu may choose to spend a few days exploring this sizably unexplored community.
What do you think of the Karatu Lonely Planet’s appraisal? Would you schedule a stop there? If you’ve been, please share your thoughts about Karatu’s attractions and activities. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions about visiting Karatu!
The Ganako-Karatu Cultural Tourism Program supplied us with complimentary trips as travel writers; nonetheless, this article reflects only our honest thoughts and ideas. We are not affiliated with or employed by the program and, of course, didn’t receive any financial compensation and do not earn any commissions on tour reservations.
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