Donna and Nas showed early interest in the land and project, and Nas would visit the stunning area on a regular basis, dreaming of one day continuing the project. It became known as a peaceful stop over for Nas on his trips to and from the Serengeti – with nothing yet built on the land (and not even owning the land!), Nas would walk down to a secret lookout spot along the Rift Valley wall to watch the world below, or sit out under the stars with the glow of Mto wa Mbu below.
Donna knew about the love Nas had for that land, and it was only after Donna lost her treasured Nas in a tragic plane crash in late 2017, that she gathered up her strength and marched forward to make sure that the peaceful stopover of Nas would reach the potential that he dreamed for it. With a heaviness in her heart, and carrying the dream of now two people in heaven, Donna developed the site exactly how Karen planned it, and Nas would have expanded upon and completed it. The building team that Nas mentored and nurtured for other projects, and led by Rick Thomas (Nas’s cousin), Mandhari Lodge is a labour of love, and now sits proudly on the edge of the Manyara Escarpment, a part of the Great Rift Valley System.
The Great Rift Valley System stretches from the Middle East and South to Mozambique. The system features volcanoes, hot springs, and a hauntingly ancient landscape. Mandhari Lodge is located along the East African Rift, which splits the continent of Africa into two. The African plate (West) carries most of the continent, and the smaller Somali plate (East) carries the Horn of Africa.
The East African Rift is further divided into the Gregory Rift and the Western Rift. These are both dotted by incredible volcanoes like Erta Ale in Ethiopia (an active volcano), Mount Kenya, in Kenya (an extinct volcano), Ol Doinyo Lengai in Tanzania (an active volcano); Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania (a dormant volcano), and Mount Nyiragongo in Democratic Republic of Congo (an active volcano).
The Gregory Rift is where Mandhari Lodge is perched; this rift stretches from the Red Sea in the North to Mount Kilimanjaro in the South – and is home to an array of breathtaking scenery; bordered by a rise of fertile farmlands, and a sinking to dry, harsh areas including soda lakes like Lake Natron. Lake Natron is a salt lake in the viewline of Mandhari Lodge.
The lake is only filled by rain, and only emptied by evaporation. Over time, and as the water evaporates, it leaves behind extremely high concentration of salt and minerals. Lake Natron is highly alkaline (filled with high levels of the chemical natron, basically a sodium carbonate and baking soda mix). Mandhari Lodge eventually came to life in mid2019. Aligned with soaring flamingos, it is situated on the edge of the world. ‘Mandhari’ means ‘view, scenery, landscape’ in Swahili, and has a bird’s eye view of a great expanse below; from Lake Natron to Mondulli Mountains and across Lake Manyara. The site offers mind-boggling views from a sun rising up over Lake Manyara to a sun setting across the Ngorongoro village farmlands.
Swaddled in the colours of the earth, the lodge offers a unique medley of accommodation options – nine dramatic, glass-fronted standard suites and one honeymoon nest suite. All suites have an unobstructed view across the dreamy landscape below.
With 100% locally sourced materials, the lodge has been built with a passion for its environment and a respect for its beloved history. The buildings are created from locally made red brick, prepared the traditional way – by hand and in an outdoor kiln. The large, core gathering area of handthatched reception, dining, lounge, bar, and swimming pool is largely an open, eucalypt platform filled with hand-crafted furnishings and woven delights.
Use the lodge to delve into the hearts of Tarangire National Park, Lake Manyara National Park, and Ngorongoro Crater – or simply remain in the grasp of its surroundings with an extensive range of cultural delights to absorb, traditional spa treatments, highlands hiking, Tinga Tinga painting lessons, Swahili cooking lessons, African drumming, customary dancing, the ancient art of yoga, and more. Welcome to soulful Tanzania.