Many people travel to Tanzania because it’s a popular African safari destination, but did you know that coffee production is a flourishing business in Tanzania as well? Coffee is Tanzania's largest exported crop, and the production of coffee employs more than 400,000 families. Apart from that, a coffee plantation experience is a great way to learn and explore more about Tanzania’s culture and history.
If you are planning to travel to Tanzania and want to enrich your safari trip with a cultural and unique coffee experience, I have a great suggestion for you! Combine a stay at Arusha Coffee Lodge and Tarangire Treetops, two luxury boutique lodges part of Elewana Collection, known for their unique accommodations at iconic locations across Tanzania and Kenya.
Arusha Coffee lodge is situated in Tanzania’s largest coffee plantation in the bustling town of Arusha, known as the gateway to several safari destinations and Africa’s highest mountain, Mt. Kilimanjaro. Tarangire Treetops is a magical place offering elevated rooms ‘up in the trees’ in the middle of a wildlife management area. It’s located on the border of Tarangire National Park, famous for its baobab trees, massive herds of elephants, and tree-climbing lions.
Arusha Coffee Lodge by Elewana
Arusha Coffee Lodge is a perfect destination to relax for a few days, either before or after a safari trip. The lodge also has several dining venues, a gift shop, Tanzanite shop, an excellent café, and a social enterprise called ‘Shanga’, run by Tanzanians with disabilities who produce beautiful arts and crafts.
You can also do many activities in and around the lodge, like spa treatments or a day trip to Mount Meru or Arusha National Park. You obviously can’t miss out on a coffee tour on the tranquil grounds of the Burka Coffee Estate.
Elewana Coffee Lodge is conveniently situated, just outside Arusha, and a great entryway to Tarangire National Park, Lake Manyara, Ngorongoro Crater, and Serengeti National Park. The city’s small domestic airport, Arusha airport, is only a 10-minute drive from the lodge. Kilimanjaro International Airport will take about 1.5 hours.
Surrounded by nature in the bustling city of Arusha
From the moment you enter the beautiful property of Elewana Coffee Lodge, you forget that you’re in a city. You will be surrounded by a serene, lush green environment full of trees and a well-maintained garden with different plants, including many coffee plants.
As you walk towards the main terrace, you will find vervet monkeys hanging around. The right side of the main area is where the 100-hectare coffee plantation lies. The Burka Coffee Estate is one of the largest and oldest coffee plantations in Tanzania!
Things to do while staying at Arusha Coffee Lodge
You don’t have to leave the property to enjoy your stay. Spend your time shopping for precious Tanzanite stones and handcrafted recycled products from the creative social enterprise called ‘Shanga’. Shanga is a beautiful community of persons living with a disability who are making wonderful art. You can also shop handmade souvenirs at the Soko market. These boutiques can all be found at the Trader's Walk, part of Arusha Coffee Lodge.
After shopping, you can enjoy a delicious coffee, straight from the garden, at ‘Kahawa’ coffee shop. You can also order small sandwiches and pastries or buy coffee blends that are grown and harvested in the fields surrounding the Elewana Coffee Lodge.
The coffee and food were delicious at Kahawa. Apart from coffee, you can also order fresh juices, tea, and more. I loved the locally-made (iced) tea with lemon, ginger, and honey!
If you rather take time for yourself to relax and rewind, Peaberries Spa and the 10-meter oval swimming pool including sunbeds is your place to be. Peaberries Spa offers massages, pedicures, and manicures. A babysitting service is available too!
For children, there is a playground with a jungle gym, slides, and swings, and they can build and bake their own pizza in the outside pizza oven.
Learn all about coffee on a guided coffee tour
I would highly recommend doing a guided tour around the coffee plantation to learn how the coffee is grown, harvested, dried, and produced into delicious Arabica coffee. After meeting our coffee guide Anuary at the reception, we walked to a coffee plantation with hundreds of coffee plants.
Because harvest season is around August, there were no coffee beans on the plants. Of course, there were a few plants left with beans, to show the guests the different colors of beans.
Anuary explained to us the history of coffee, the different types of coffee, and the production process in an enjoyable way. The tour was interactive and informative and lasted for about an hour. This includes the preparation and tasting of a cup of freshly brewed, rich-flavored coffee. The roasting and grounding of the coffee beans happen right in front of you. The only thing that lasts, is to add some hot water. Cheers!
Plantation cottage in the middle of coffee plants
When staying at Elewena Coffee Lodge, you will sleep in a plantation room or suite surrounded by coffee plants.
The cottage we stayed in was very spacious, comfortable, and artfully decorated. The cottages offer a lot of privacy, encircled by a hedge and enough distance to the neighboring cottage.
We had a small garden with two lounge beds and a fireplace, and in front of the cottage, there was a private patio with a second lounge set. We loved to sit on the patio with views over the coffee plants.
The beds were soft, comfortable, and large. Although Arusha is a low-risk malaria area, there was also a mosquito net. The WiFi connection in the room and throughout the entire lodge was stable, which makes it an ideal place to stay if you’re on a workation.
Amazing food and lots of choices
You’re spoiled for choice when it comes to food at Arusha Coffee Lodge. A delightful breakfast is served each morning including fresh fruits, pastries, and a selection of warm dishes from the à la carte menu varying from mouth-watering eggs Benedict to Tanzanian oatmeal.
Breakfast is served inside, but on request, you can sit outside in the lovely garden. I would definitely recommend you to find a nice spot in the garden to enjoy the morning sun!
Lunch is served in the garden, where you can sit at wooden tables with a broad sunshade. There is a large à la carte lunch menu to choose from which includes a variety of dishes such as burgers, sandwiches, salads, meat, fish, and pasta as well as the ‘straight-from-the-oven’ pizzas. From this menu, you can also order several small dishes to share. If you love to taste authentic Tanzanian dishes and prefer a tapas-style lunch, you can request gourmet food. The chef advised us to try this, but unfortunately, we didn’t have the chance.
On our first day, we enjoyed 3 appetizers combined with a halloumi-avocado salad, which was delicious! On the second day, we had a small lunch dish at ‘Kahawa’ coffee shop. We choose to spend some time on their terrace to finish some work while enjoying a drink, and a pastry. It was such a lovely setting that we stayed there for lunch.
For dinner, there are two options: Again, there’s a large à la carte menu to choose from and there’s an excellent fine-dining option. We chose the fine-dining experience, without regret! The chef served 5 high-quality dishes.
Even if you’re not staying at Elewana’s Arusha Coffee Lodge, I would highly recommend coming here for lunch or dinner, doing a coffee tour and visiting the Traders Walk. If you’re planning to book a stay at Arusha Coffee Lodge, I would advise to stay for a minimum of two nights. You will love it!
Transfer to Tarangire with Talii Nasi Safaris
After our stay at Arusha Coffee Lodge, the reliable safari company Talii Nasi Safaris picked us up from the lodge to take us to our next destination: Tarangire Treetops Lodge by Elewana. Talii Nasi Safaris arranged a comfortable 4x4 including water and snacks for the 3-hour drive ahead of us. We also had the possibility to charge our gear along the way! Pretty handy, with all our electronics and photography gear.
The road from Arusha to Tarangire was pretty good. Along the way we stopped a few times for a comfort break or to simply enjoy the views. You can also self-drive from Arusha to Tarangire, but we arranged a safari trip with Talii Nasi Safaris to just sit back and relax.
Tarangire Treetops by Elewana Collection
Ever wanted to stay in a Treehouse? Tarangire Treetops offers elevated rooms up in branches of thousand-year old trees. It’s a fantastic place bordering Tarangire National Park with the most friendly staff and an infinity swimming pool overlooking a waterhole where animals like zebras, buffalo, lions and elephants come to drink!
A perfect place in ‘the bush’ for a unique tranquil and luxury safari experience.
Boundering Tarangire National Park
Traveling from Arusha, you can reach Tarangire Treetops in approximately 3 hours. The lodge is located on Masaai land in the Randilen Wildlife Management Area, at the Eastern boundary of Tarangire National Park.
There are two ways to reach Tarangire Treetops by Elewana, either by entering Tarangire National Park through the main entrance gate at the Northern and busier side of the park with most game-viewing opportunities, or via the Boundary Hill gate of the Wildlife Management Area.
The advantage of entering via the National Park is that you’ll have a game drive on route to the lodge, while entering via the Wildlife Management Area is faster, and you don’t have to pay the National Park’s entrance fees.
Randilen Wildlife Management Area
Randilen Wildlife Management Area (WMA) is run by the local Maasai community, established in 2012. It’s an exclusive area, great for sundowners, plain wildlife and elephants. The area is only accessible for people staying at Randilen hosts - like Elewana - who are all committed to conservation and responsible tourism.
The area covers 31,000 hectares of land and shares its borders and wildlife resources with Tarangire and Lake Manyara ecosystem. Animals like zebras, elephants, buffalos, lions, and other mammals migrate from and to Randilen. Other than wild animals, Randilen WMA is home to various bird species like ostriches, ground hornbills, parrots, Francolins, and Guinea Fowls, attracted by vegetation and water sources.
Randilen WMA is also home to high numbers of elephant and buffalo populations. There is also a breeding site for elephants, where they give birth to their offspring.
With some luck, even the famous tree-climbing lions can be seen within the WMA. Lots of these animals come to visit the waterhole in front of Tarangire Treetops Lodge.
Elewana has an amazing spot in the Randilen Wildlife Management where you can watch a beautiful sunset on top of the so-called ‘sundowner hill’.
After your afternoon game drive you will drive up the hill where you’ll find a beautiful setting to watch the sunset over the plains with some hot and cold snacks and a wine- and cocktail bar.
Amazing Bush Breakfast
After our morning game drive in the Randilen Willdife Management area on the boundary with Tarangire National Park, we also had an amazing bush breakfast.
It was a lovely setting under the shade of a Baobab tree, with fresh fruits, yogurt, and a private chef, cooking eggs of our choice.
Game viewing from the deck and swimming pool
The main areas at Tarangire Treetops, like the reception, lounge and dining area, overlook the swimming pool and a waterhole that is often visited by wild animals.
During our four night stay we were lucky to see elephants, lions, buffalo, and zebras drinking at the waterhole! Especially during the dry season, a large amount of animals come here to drink regularly; perfect opportunities for game viewing.
Just imagine watching the animals while having breakfast, lunch or dinner. Or even better, when you’re relaxing in or around the infinity pool? Staying around the lodge is not bad at all!
There is also a lower-level (game viewing) deck that’s easily accessible. From there you have an even closer look at the waterhole, where you will also spot plenty of birds. It’s very unlikely to get bored when staying at Tarangire Treetops Lodge as there’s always activity around the water hole.
Game drive at Tarangire National Park
For more game viewing, a visit to Tarangire National Park has to be part of your stay. This National Park is named after the Tarangire River that crosses the park. Especially during the dry season, plenty of animals can be found at or near the water such as zebras, wildebeest, and giraffes. Elephants, lions and buffalo are also common sightings in Tarangire National Park.
Apart from wildlife, this park offers a beautiful landscape with high numbers of beautiful baobab trees, swampy flood plains and woodlands.
We did a full-day game drive at Tarangire National Park and drove around the Silale swamp where we saw plenty of wildlife and birdlife.
We also had special sightings of a monitor lizard climbing a tree and a small curious steenbok next to our vehicle and the so-called tree climbing lions.
During the drive, our guide chose a nice spot to stop for a comprehensive lunch in a lovely setting in the shade of a tree with endless views.
Our guide served delicious fresh food including a hot vegetable soup, potato salad, tomato and cucumber salad, bread and more!
After lunch, we continued our drive around the swamp and arrived at camp just before sunset, a perfect time to end this lovely day with a drink at our Treehouse terrace deck.
Sleeping in a treehouse in a giant baobab tree
All rooms at Tarangire treetops are raised from the ground with stilts in or near marula or baobab trees. This elevated position provides stunning views over the surrounding area, including a beautiful sunrise or sunset view.
The inside of all rooms are spacious and fancy-designed with wood. The rooms have a large and comfortable twin or king-size bed, a small lounge set, a writing desk, and a terrace with two seats.
In the en-suite bathroom, there’s a double wash basin and twin shower. I loved staying here. The shower provided hot water and strong pressure, and the beds were extremely comfortable.
Even the Wi-Fi connection was stable in the tents, which is a huge plus for us, as we always try to catch up on work while traveling.
Giving back to the Masaai community
Due to the lodge's location on Maasai land in the wildlife management area, Elewana’s Tarangire Treetops supports the nearby villages in various ways.
When staying for at least two nights, you will join a legendary dining and entertainment experience. Guests will be treated to a Masaai performance while having dinner next to a fireplace in a boma. It was not a commercial experience, as I’ve seen in many other places. I loved to see them sing and dance full of passion.
If you want to learn more about the Masaai culture and their way of living, guests can visit a Masai village for 15 dollars per person. When we visited the rural Maasai village, we were invited to dance with them, and we could ask questions about their culture, history, and beliefs. They explained about their lives, and we got to see one of the houses they live in.
When visiting the village, the kids were in class next to the maasai houses. They were practicing the alphabet and numbers with songs. The children spend time in the classroom every morning.
At the end of the visit, you are able to support the community by buying handmade bracelets and souvenirs. I’ve visited several Masai villages before, and to be honest a lot of them are very commercial or only set up for tourists. This village wasn’t commercial at all and it’s still a village where the Maasai actually live.
We weren’t pushed to buy anything, and they gave us the space to have a look at ease. I would highly recommend visiting the village, located about 20 minutes from the Elewana Tarangire Treetops lodge.
At Tarangire Treetops they know what it means to provide excellent customer service. The staff members were always smiling and had a positive and friendly attitude, from the moment you arrive, till you leave. They go the extra mile for their customers, and they surprised me in many ways.
At the moment we arrived, we were warmly welcomed by several staff members, including the warm-hearted manager Clay. During the activities, our kind and responsible guide Wilson took care of us. We also had two designated waiters, Peter and Elly, who served our daily meals.
When it comes to meals, we had some lovely experiences, especially for dinner. Each night, Elewana provides different settings for dinner. The first night, we had dinner outside on the deck next to the swimming pool overlooking the waterhole.
It was a lovely setting with romantic lights and that evening lions came to visit the waterhole to drink! The other two evenings we had dinner in a traditional Masaai boma. It’s where we got surprised with a local braai and Maasai performance, it was amazing.
On top of all the above, there were some extra services that were all on point, from the wet wipes available in the game drive vehicle, to the fast and good laundry service. I couldn’t ask for a better service, it was the best service I’ve had during my entire Tanzania trip.
Combine Tarangire Treetops and Arusha Coffee lodge
As you can read, Arusha Coffee lodge and Tarangire Treetops both have their unique characteristics. The food and coffee experience was unique at Arusha Coffee lodge while the amazing hospitality, safari and baobab experience were characteristic for Elewana Tarangire Treetops.
To get the best out of this combination, I would suggest staying in Arusha Coffee Lodge for two nights and at Tarangire Treetops for at least 2-3 nights.
Book your stay at Elewana’s Arusha Coffee Lodge and Tarangire Treetops and tell them you came through Traveltomtom! In case you have any questions about Tarangire Treetops, Arusha Coffee lodge or traveling to Tanzania, feel free to contact me through my Instagram @ourplanetinmylens.
This article is written by travel and wildlife photographer Kim Paffen, part of the Traveltomtom team. She also wrote amazing Africa articles about Uganda, Madagascar and South Africa.