We don’t say that these are the best accommodations out there, but we were pretty happy with what we got – knowing that we didn’t go for upmarket resorts.
Leopard Rest Camp, Mburo Lake (right outside Lake Mburo National Park – Nashaa gate)
In Leopard Rest Camp, there are several types of accommodations. We opted for a “luxury tent”, which is a tent within a wooden structure, as you typically see in Africa. I really enjoy these types of lodges. The en-suite bathroom located outside, in the back of your tent is original and gives it an extra touch. Ok, less convenient if you need to go to the bathroom at night, but that’s just something to consider when ordering drinks during dinner.
The staff at the lodge is super friendly (we haven’t encountered any unfriendly people in Uganda) – both for welcoming us and guiding us to our tent as well as for drinks and dinner and for the activities (biking in our case).
They say they’re known for their 3 course dinner and indeed, it’s quite good – although not exceptional compared to the other lodges: they all have the same principle. Starting with soup, a main course with 2 choices, of which one is vegetarian and a dessert.
Drinks can be taken in some comfy lounges on the upper deck, while enjoying the surrounding views of nature. Dinner is served outside as well, but in the covered areas. Light are kept low at night, so a cozy ambiance.
There are lamps in the tent and outside (one in front and one in the back – which is handy for a late night shower). Charging of electronics can only be done in the public area, next to the reception desk – not in the room.
What struck us was the hard mattresses in the tent – you certainly feel that by the time daylight breaks. The sheet and blanket on the bed are just enough to keep you from being cold.
The lodge offers different activities. Next to the bike ride that we did, you can also go for a nature walk. They also have a pool table and set a camp fire in the evening. They ask all guests to keep the noise down as from 10pm.
This was a great first place to stay – actually kinda my favorite. The first time you come to rest again in this beautiful continent, surrounded by nature. It was also the cheapest of all accommodations and the one where we saw most other guests.
- Price for the overnight: USD 130 for 2 nights
- Price for 6 soft drinks and 2 dinners: 170.000 shilling
Gift of Nature Lodge, Ruhija (just outside Bwindi National Park, Ruhija sector)
Gift of Nature Lodge has 10 rooms, but when we arrived, we were the only ones. We were warmly welcomed by a friendly guy (I guess the owner) with a warm facial towel and Pristine, a charming young lady who offered a glass of juice and got the registrations done.
The room we got was big enough – 3 queen size beds and en-suite. All very basic, but does the trick. The electricity they have is generated through solar, so pretty eco-minded. We’d see the same principle with other accommodations. We had our own charging station in the room, which is always a plus. Pristine let us know that the water in the shower wouldn’t get too hot, but it was more than fine. Soap bars are provided as well.
Dinner is home-cooked style, very tasty. Three courses – nothing fancy, but we enjoyed it very much.
The Gift of Nature Lodge is located in the middle of a small “village”, with chickens and goats running all over the road, so it’s pretty noisy. As from about 9pm however, all sounds seem to slowly fade out and during the night it’s actually quite (if not raining). As from about 3am however, certain animal sounds woke us up – not sure what it was really, but quite loud and it kept going all through the morning.
Breakfast is in the style of the one served at Leopard Rest Camp, so starting with fruits, eggs baked to your wishes and two big slices of toast, but this time with peanut butter and jelly on the table… mmmm…
We also asked for a lunch box to take with us for the Gorilla Trekking. While we only asked lunch for 1 person – given the fact that we still had food that we bought in the mall – we got plenty of a fine lunch: decent pieces of chicken, a big sandwich with peanut butter and jelly, 2 boiled eggs, a piece of cake, a banana and a bottle of water. Yummy, certainly after the trek.
It’s certainly a very basic accommodation, no luxury and not particularly cozy… If you’re looking for something more “appealing to the eye”, this is not something for you. But for what we were looking for (basically a clean place to just spend the night and have something to eat in the morning and the evening), this is all you need. Don’t be surprised to find a bug in your room either…
- Price for the overnight: USD 230 for 2 nights
- Price for 4 soft drinks, 2 dinners for two and 2 lunch boxes: 270.000 shilling
Simba Safari Camp, Queen Elisabeth National Park
Simba Safari Camp is conveniently located in Queen Elisabeth National Park – about 30 minutes from the Kasenyi Plains (popular for lion sightings) and about 1 hour from Mweya (from which the boat cruises on the Kazinga Channel depart).
The room itself is spacious enough, has a decent bed with mosquito nets and sufficient storage space. The bathroom is very basic but has all you need except for something to put your toilet bags on. So we just put everything on the floor.
There is a pool available, although we didn’t check it out, so can’t rate it. Besides for sleeping, we only took our breakfast and dinner at the Camp. Breakfast is a similar style compared to the two above, although you can choose 3 options from a list of 4, including cereal, toast, eggs made to your preference and fruit. Dinner is again 3 courses and same principle as well: soup, main course of which 1 vegetarian option and desert. I did very much enjoy a glass of sweet white wine with dinner too.
As we didn’t know exactly how our day at Queen Elisabeth National Park was going to work out, we asked for a lunch box. Again, similar to the one we received at Gift of Nature Lodge, although I preferred that last one more. In the case of Simba Safari Camp we got dry cookies instead of cake and an orange instead of a piece of chicken. The sandwiches were to be chosen as well (ham, cheese, ham + cheese or salami).
As it was only us and 1 other visitor for the 2 nights we were there and as the Camp is pretty secluded, we had a very quite night. You do hear the cars on the road a little further, but as we put on the fan (yes, you get two, which is certainly a plus), we didn’t hear anything and could enjoy a soothing breeze all night long.
WiFi is available at the restaurant and the lobby and is pretty good. There’s also a TV in the bar/ restaurant, where you can comfortably relax in one of the lounge chairs. The restaurant itself is ok, but in itself less charming as the one of Leopard Rest Camp. Unless of course, they arrange a tête-à-tête romantic table for two outside on our last night, with candles and wind lights surrounding us. Terrific surprise!
One last point: staff was super friendly, as in all other locations, but they really do take their time for serving dinner. We needed more than 1 hour to get through the 3 courses, where for the others it was max 1/2 hour (we’re fast eaters!).
- Price for the overnight: USD 210 for 2 nights
- Price for 2 soft drinks, 2 glasses of whine, 2 dinners for two and 2 lunch boxes: 270.000 shilling
Rweteera Safari Camp, Kibale National Park
Rweteera Safari Camp is absolutely peaceful. It’s located at Lake Nyabikere and although only about 400m from the road, you feel like you’re totally isolated.
We were warmly welcomed by Steven, who made sure we got checked in and showed us a great cabana. The bathroom is right behind the bed, with only half a wall in between. Less convenient if you need to take a dump. And getting hot water running from the shower isn’t the easiest either – patience is a bless in Uganda. But other than that – great.
The restaurant and bar are covered under a roof, but you still have the outside feeling. Also here, comfortable lounges to enjoy another tasty glass of sweet white wine.
Breakfast has a few options – for drinks you can choose black tea with fresh ginger, which has been a first here in Uganda. Other new options include pancakes and French toast. Very tasty.
Dinner again has 3 courses. First night grilled chicken with fries and – against expectations – the fries were very good! And on our second night we got banana fritters for dessert – THE BEST! Thanks to the lovely chef lady, who also learned us about the local “rolex” lunch.
The nights are challenging because of the frogs who seem to have surrounded our cabin and they are LOUD! Other than that, everything ok.
Given the location, I very much liked this camp, it’s a close second to Leopard Rest Camp.
- Price for the overnight: USD 220 for 2 nights
- Price for 3 glasses of wine, 7 soft drinks: 73.000 shilling (2 dinners for two and 2 lunch boxes included in booking price)
Sambiya River Lodge, Murchison Falls National Park
In the Uganda guide from Bradt, this lodge has been graded as “upmarket”. Although I wasn’t “wowed” by the pictures my husband found online, I thought that counted for something. So I couldn’t feel but disappointed when we saw our room. It’s just so basic and dull, no sense of cozyness whatsoever. The bathroom is the same – just plain, no storage space, not appealing at all. I mean, I can live with it – as such we weren’t willing to pay double (as it wasn’t cheap anyway), but the rating shouldn’t be misleading. On the map of the park itself it’s more correctly rated as “moderate”. There is enough storage space in the room for 2 nights, so that’s a plus.
As with a lot of the lodges that we’ve been at, also this one is solar powered. The shower was however immediately hot and therefore we enjoyed it very much, as we had been driving on dusty roads for the entire day. Further, electricity is on between 7 and 10pm and is also available in the room, so you can charge your electronics for that period of time.
The common areas are better, in my opinion. The restaurant and bar are cozy enough. They serve dinner with candle light. The pool is not as big as the pictures would make you believe, but ok. The domain in which the cabanas are located are frequented by buffalo – of which we indeed saw a herd when we got back from our activities on the second day. That’s why you – in principle – need someone to walk you through and from your room, after dark.
Despite the not very appealing room, we did have a good night sleep. The windows, with mosquito nets in front of them, located right above the bed as well as in front, let in a gentle cooling breeze during the night, to take away the heat from the day. I only got woken by something grazing or sniffling around our cabana on the first night – they told me this could be a bush pig. And some sounds that seemed to be coming from the roof – which could be bats. That last one was confirmed during our second night, but this time there was a peeping noise accompanying it, which was unbearable to sleep. So I took one of our spotlights and was shining it towards the bottom of the roof from the window. Didn’t expect it to work, but it did…
The food is pretty good – both breakfast, packed lunch and dinner. Only the bread they serve with the soup is not fresh. For breakfast quite some choices, including pancakes with maple syrup and French toast.
Finally, the two guys welcoming us when we arrived and when we came back the second day and also served the food were very friendly. The others that were hanging around on the domain not really – was the first time actually that we got that impression.
- Price for the overnight: USD 269 for 2 nights
- Price for 1 glass of wine, 5 soft drinks, 2 dinners for two and 2 lunch boxes: 280.000 shilling