I (Jessie Bligh) recently joined Adventure Consults for an “Ultimate Uganda & Rwanda” safari in East Africa. This is the third installment of my trip report — on the camps and lodges I encountered at Queen Elizabeth National Park (QENP) and Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.
Kyambura Game Lodge (QENP)
A beautiful Volcanoes property. The rooms at this eco-friendly lodge are very large with unique with decor touches including a window seat that’s great for relaxing. Guests can tour the nearby coffee fields and visit beehives at the lodge. The main lounge is beautifully decorated, with a ton of space to relax. Guests that know how to strum are welcome to play the community guitar. The lodge is near a village, so it can be a bit noisy at times, but nothing too disturbing.
Notes: 8 rooms; 4 gorge view and 4 savannah view. Wifi in main house.
Katara Lodge (QENP)
Katara is just outside Queen Elizabeth NP. The property boasts vast views of the savannah, which seem never ending. For the adventurers that wish to sleep under the stars, each room features a day bed on wheels that can be rolled onto an outdoor platform. Although there are a lot of steps, the hike up to the pool and bar area is worth it. The atmosphere is charming and relaxed.
Notes: 8 rooms including 1 family. Same category and price. Not all-inclusive.
Enganzi Lodge (QENP)
Enganzi is great for budget-conscious clients. The rooms are tented (with a thatched roof) and are incredibly spacious. Although decor is minimal, the view certainly makes up for that.
Notes: 9 rooms, all standard.
Mweya Safari Lodge (QENP)
We loved our stay at Mweya. The food, service and location make for the perfect stay at Queen Elizabeth. Guest rooms face the Kazinga Channel and the view is just stunning. The property is quite spread out, so it takes a few minute to walk to most rooms, but the path is flat. Make sure your guide drives you to the sundowner spot near the airstrip for an incredible sunset.
The boat ride on the Kazinga Channel is an absolute must. This was one of the high points of the entire trip to Uganda and Rwanda. Getting to see the wildlife of Uganda from a different point of view was a treat. We saw more hippos than I could ever imagine. In fact, the channel has one of the world’s largest concentrations of hippos. Buffaloes and crocodiles also line the shore, and the birding was some of the best I’ve ever had — several species of kingfisher, Egyptian geese and fish eagles to name a few. We also spotted elephants coming down to drink. Mweya offers two guided boat rides each day.
Notes: Standard and Deluxe rooms; Standard and Deluxe tents; Family cottages.
Ishasha Wilderness Camp (QENP)
A lovely property inside QENP. This high-end tented camp sits on the Ntungwe River. Who doesn’t love the sound of water while you’re enjoying a gin and tonic on the patio? Don’t forget to say hello to the resident hippo, Henry.
The manager at Ishasha was kind enough to invite us for lunch and I must say it was one of the better meals that we had on the trip. Our compliments to the chef! The tents are just beautiful, with authentic decor. There are charging stations (for phones, cameras, laptops, etc) in the tents and common areas.
Also in the common area is a board listing recent animal sightings with a map right next to it. We thought this was a really unique way to interact with guests. There are also large tribal drums that the staff will play when meals are served. It’s those few small touches that made us fall in love with Ishasha. Grab a homemade fresh cookie from the cookie jar before your game drive!
Notes: 10 tents that are all same inside but offer different views. A communication device attached to the tent keys allows guests to call for a staff escort to/from the common area, etc.
Silverback Lodge (Bwindi)
Silverback is right outside the national park’s gate, where you begin your gorilla tracking journey — very convenient. With 12 rooms, the property is small and cozy. There are no stairs and the property is relatively flat, which is much appreciated after a long, hard track. The rooms are on the smaller side, but the common areas leave plenty of room for relaxing and uploading pictures.
Notes: 12 rooms. Singles, doubles and triples. Slowly being renovated. Small rooms. Great views. Rates all-inclusive. Swimming pool coming soon.
Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp (Bwindi)
This five-star A&K property is brand new. Sanctuary is inside the park gate, so starting your gorilla trek is a piece of cake. The little touches to the tents — like the carvings on the wood outside and the beautiful wooded floors — really stick out. The room and bathroom is deceivingly large. Top-notch service and unbeatable location make for a perfect stay for high-end guests.
Notes: 8 identical tented rooms. King beds.
Buhoma Lodge (Bwindi)
Buhoma really stuck out to us. Located inside the gate, it’s another beautiful option for your mid- to high-range clients. From the common areas to the rooms, Buhoma has so much character and the vibe is great.
Each room includes both a shower and bathtub as well as wifi. Some of the rooms feature a sitting area with a small fireplace, which is a lovely touch. And although there are quite a few steps around the property, some rooms are close to the common areas, so your clients won’t have to walk to far.
Buhoma is a part of the Exclusive Camps & Lodges group. There are three properties within the group and each serves the same menu so that you don’t repeat meals when traveling with them.
This ecofriendly lodge provides all the essentials for gorilla tracking (gators, walking sticks, water, etc.). And at the end of your long day of tracking, laundry and massages are complimentary. We loved Buhoma!
Notes: 10 rooms including 2 queens and 8 with two separate beds (or one huge bed upon request). Phone for room service or emergencies.
Bwindi Lodge (Bwindi)
Originally opened in 1999, Bwindi was a tented camp but was upgraded in 2014 to a proper lodge and there are plans for more renovations in the near future. It’s just outside the park gate, within walking distance to Buhoma village.
There are tons of activities to take part in during your stay. Activities include river trail walks, community walk ($25 pp) and a Batwa (pigmy) walk. Tracking essentials (gators, walking stick, lunch, water etc.) are included. Something that really stuck out to us was the plastic container for lunch. This was incredibly convenient and eliminates waste as well. We all really liked that.
There are no electric charging outlets in the rooms, but there are plenty of outlets (with converters) in the common area. Also is the common area is a lovely fire pit that’s lit each night, making the ambiance great for mingling with other guests. Laundry and massage are complimentary.
Make sure your clients make their way to the nearby Gorilla Doctors headquarters. If you’re lucky, you might run into Dr. Gladys herself. This is an important and educational visit that will inform you of the extensive efforts the Gorilla Doctors are making towards conservation of the endangered mountain gorillas.
Notes: 8 total rooms including 3 doubles, 5 twins and Double Deluxe.