In my last three posts I highlighted some of Uganda's amazing wildlife, from chimpanzees and mountain gorillas to lions, elephants, and hippos. To see some of these animals required some effort on our part, trudging through dense forests and up and down steep, slippery slopes. At the end of each day we were happy to be welcomed back to the comforts of our various lodges and camps, each with its own character and charm, but all offering excellent food, hot showers, comfortable beds, and best of all, kind and helpful staff.
Ndali Lodge, less than 10 miles from Kibali National Park, sets a very high standard for luxury. Located on a 1920s era tea plantation on the rim of Nyinambuga Crater Lake, the lodge offers stunning views in all directions.
Every morning we were treated to an al fresco breakfast (featuring many choices, from avocado toast to meusli and yogurt to a full English breakfast) with views of the lake.
The lodge was built in the 1990s by the current proprietor's father and has been lovingly maintained -- the original thatch roofs remain.
The decor has a strong colonial flavor which made me feel as though I was in the movie "Out of Africa." Note the fire place at the end of the main sitting room. We were certainly glad of its warmth and light one night when a fierce thunderstorm blew through the area.
The cottages are spaced well apart and separated by dense vegetation, making each one a private retreat.
With a wonderful view of the Rowenzori Mountains to the west, I found the entry patio a lovely spot to sit and read, or just to stop to remove my muddy boots.
Inside it was comfortably furnished. Each night a staff member put the mosquito nets down around the bed, and each morning I was awakened by a gentle tapping on the window when another staff member brought me coffee along with warmed milk. It was the gentlest of ways to start the day! The cottages have electricity for lighting, but are also well supplied with candles in case of outages, or in case you would like the ambiance of candles, which I highly recommend!
Hot water for the cottages is provided by wood-fired water heaters. I had my first shower by candlelight and it took me a few minutes to realize that the smell of smoke was from the water and not from having accidentally set my cottage on fire.
Since the lodge is so close to the equator, night falls around 6:00 p.m. year round. Consequently, it was dark by the time we were seated for dinner and the meal was served by candlelight. I found the food quite delicious and wonderfully fresh.
Ndali Lodge is truly a special place to stay. Although the location and the lodge itself are beautiful, the magic ingredient is the staff. They were unfailingly kind and attentive. I especially appreciated being led on a walking tour of the 2.5 mile trail around the lake.
Our next stop was the Ishasha Wildnerness Camp in Queen Elizabeth National Park.
Since this camp is in the park, and right along the Ntungwe River one must be wary of wild animals, especially at night. In fact, once it was dark we were required to have staff escort us between our tents and the main lodge.
Ishasha offers accommodation in permanent, spacious tents which look rustic from the outside (note the yellow jerry can which is filled with hot water for showers), but they are nicely furnished inside. Definitely glamping!
The bed was fitted out nightly with mosquito netting and staff brought me coffee each morning. It was rather thrilling to be awakened several times by sounds of wildlife so close that I wondered if I would be staring straight into a pair of gleaming eyes should I be brave enough to pull open the curtains.
When the animals quieted down I could hear the rush of water in the river just outside the back of my tent.
On our final morning, having made an early start in hopes of spotting wildlife, the staff set up a full breakfast for us on the edge of a bluff. We all appreciated it immensely!
Our final stay was at Gorilla Forest Camp in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. Like Ishasha, this camp has a comfortable open air lodge for meals and lounging.
Accommodation is in nicely appointed tents.
Staff delivered hot coffee (and tasty butter cookies) each morning. And after our last trek to see gorillas they cleaned our muddy boots so they didn't soil the rest of our belongings when we packed for our return home.
As elsewhere, I found the staff was wonderful, the food fresh, and the overall atmosphere welcoming and relaxing. Kudos to Cheeseman's Ecology Safaris for making this trip as comfortable as it was thrilling!