Monday, January 16, 2012

Kyambura Game Lodge - New Lodge at QENP!

An excerpt from my recent trip to Uganda in November 2011:

From Ndali we continued on to Kyambura in Queen Elizabeth NP. Just before we got on the road from Ndali (the short road, too!) there was an accident and the road was blocked so we had to backtrack through Fort Portal and added about an hour to our drive time. Road conditions in throughout the region are certainly an issue, especially during the rainy season and travelers should be warned that being flexible and keeping an open mind and positive attitude will go far while on a driving safari in Uganda! The drive to Kyambura was on paved road and traced the Rwenzori Mountains – stunning views! We stopped for a bathroom break (roadside/gas station bathrooms are usually squat toilets and often the bush bathroom is preferable!) and enjoyed a quick soda pop and continued on our way.

Kyambura Game Lodge is located overlooking QENP and just adjacent to the gorge (you can see the top of the gorge from the lodge but not down inside the gorge). Something that is key to keep in mind with this property is its location! Kyambura Game Lodge is located in the community, outside of the park. This is actually something that I really enjoyed about lodges in Uganda – the variety of choices inside the parks and in communities/towns. After driving through the village, a short driveway takes you to the lodge. The lodge’s setting is actually really prime – up on the hillside overlooking the forest and the park below. The lodge manager did warn us not to be alarmed if we heard gunshots at night…it was the local community, with the help of the park rangers, shooting blanks to scare the elephants back into the park and out of the community gardens. The evening we arrived there was a football game on and I could hear it in my room (really in the bathroom more so) being broadcast at the local pub. After dinner I didn’t notice any noise from the village. The call to prayer starts early in the morning, but it only woke me up initially and only for a few minutes. If someone is a light sleeper and is concerned about that, they could wear earplugs. Once again, clients need to realize that this is lodge is not in the park…

The lodge is fairly new and it shows – everything looks fresh and clean. The 7 rooms are tented with en suite bathrooms, shower, double sink basin and flush toilet – fallen timber and local red clay are used in the bathrooms and the tent itself is quite large. Wrought iron beds are draped in mosquito nets, a built-in day bed and fresh white linens really give the tents a chic feel. The verandahs overlook the valley below and offer a seating ideal for enjoying the views!

The swimming pool is amazing – clear blue, lined by hammocks and chaise lounges draped in Maasai shukas and overlooks the valley and park below. There is a beautiful dining area overlooking the valley/park, a cozy bar with a fire place (this entire area is very open and has expansive views), and lastly a fire pit area for cultural dances and sundowners. The staff was very friendly, eager to please and the food was tasty. My only true complaint about the food in Uganda was that breakfast became a bit monotonous. I have dietary restrictions and it was a little difficult to find variety in breakfast – thank goodness for lots of fresh fruit!

After the cruise (on Kazinga Channel, stay tuned for details!) we returned to Kyambura Game Lodge and were surprised by the local dance troop in the boma area at sunset! The sunset over QENP, the valley below and the local music and dance made for a really special evening. The local dance troop was really impressive and the vibe at the lodge was great. Dinner that night was very good and after the dancers took a break, they came and presented their finale as we were eating dinner. Bravo to Kyambura Game Lodge for arranging such a fun evening!

Photos by Lyndsay Harshman/The Kusini Collection

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