Cultivation is not allowed in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and anyway, neither the soil nor the rain pattern is suitable for cultivation. Therefore all the supplies, varying from nails to fresh food have to be bought in by road, either from Karatu (140 km away) or Arusha (280 km away), as does diesel and fuel which powers the lighting via the generator. Most of the fresh vegetables and meat are supplied from Karatu or Arusha.
Water has always been a problem at Ndutu. The washing water in the bathrooms comes from a dug-out waterhole near the lake, about 2 km from the Lodge. It is hauled by bowser every day to the Lodge and pumped up to the watertower into four storage tanks. This water contains dissolved minerals (mostly sodium carbonate or ‘washing soda’) which is impossible to remove and makes the water feel soapy. For this reason it cannot be used for drinking or cooking, nor for mixing cement. Also, uniforms, sheets and towels, which are regularly washed in it, deteriorate after a few months, so replacing these is a constant problem.
Fresh water is an even more precious commodity. All the drinking, cooking and building water needs to be collected from the metal roofs during the rainy season. When the Lodge runs out our only solution is to send a bowser to haul fresh water from mountain streams in the Ngorongoro Highlands, some 80 km away. As there is sometimes no rain for five or six months during the dry season, our resident staff need to be very disciplined about the freshwater supplies.
Simplicity remains the secret of Ndutu’s survival. Although we are gradually replacing our old ‘Tanganyika’ boilers with solar heaters, we still need an alternative for overcast and rainy days for providing hot showers. We have designed smaller boilers with quicker inflow of hot water to the guest rooms. Since 1998 we have brought in all firewood from outside the Conservation Area. These days our kitchen has gas stoves installed, but we have never dared rid ourselves of our old wood-burning stoves. The supply of cooking gas is still very erratic and many a time we have had to fall back on those faithful Dovre Stoves of the past!
Meanwhile, at the laundry the wind dries clothes and a few coals from the fire are then used in the charcoal irons with which clothes are pressed!