Monday, December 12, 2011

Luxury in Harmony with Nature - Kyambura Gorge Lodge

Perched on the hillside above Kyambura Gorge is a new gem in Uganda.  Volcanoes Kyambura Gorge Lodge offers astounding views over the Kyambura gorge, the plains of the Albertine Rift Valley, Queen Elizabeth National Park and the Rwenzori Mountains as the backdrop.  Whether you are going to Queen Elizabeth Park for a safari or to get away from the city, the lodge offers a quiet comfortable retreat abundant with natural beauty.

Main Lodge Building
We set off from Kampala early on a wet Saturday morning headed for Kyambura Gorge Lodge.  We drove via Masaka and Mbarara, although road construction was underway we experienced only short delays and a fantastic new road.  It didn’t stay cold and damp for long and by the time that we reached the equator, we were peeling off our sweaters.  The equator is always an enjoyable stop no matter how many times you have crossed over.  Uganda being one of less than 13 countries in the world that the equator passes through makes it an experience not to be missed.  As we drive past Lake Mburo National Park,
we see several zebra grazing near the road as well as many crested cranes.  The scenery through Bushyenyi is beautiful, the road meanders back and forth through tea plantations and more banana trees than you can imagine.  Soon we reach the top of the escarpment and stop at a viewpoint for a breathtaking view over the Albertine Rift Valley.  As we descend into the valley we turn off the main road and after a short distance arrive at our destination.

We are welcomed to Kyambura Gorge Lodge with big smiles and handshakes from a few of the people who we will see and interact with throughout our stay.  As our bags are unloaded we are drawn into the reception area and our eyes take in the creative African d√©cor.  A woman offers us fresh juice and we are invited outside onto a large platform with views across the
plains.  As we marvel at the view we are given an introduction to the lodge, its facilities and history.   This contemporary eco-lodge is built on what was originally a coffee plantation.  Several buildings were carefully restored while others were newly constructed in keeping with the same style and feel as those restored.

The reception area gives us a small taste of what awaits us but now we are eager to see more.  We are led down a stone pathway that winds through the natural bush to our accommodation, an elevated wooden banda.  Each banda has its own unique name; we stayed in Emiti which means “tree”.  It is aptly named as it is built next to a very large old fig tree.  Just a few steps down off the main pathway we enter our banda onto a large covered area with a porch swing facing the views.  We step inside though a large sliding
Emiti
door.  Each banda embraces a different color theme and Emiti is yellow with splashes of it in various forms throughout the completely wooden room.  Inside there is a sitting area, a large built in window seat, 2 generous sized single beds with mosquitoes nets and a set of double doors that lead to a partially covered porch with a couple of appropriately colored chairs.  Through another wooden sliding door is a walk in closet with a built in wooden bench to sit on or store your bags on with a row of pegs and hangers above for clothes.  Inside the bench is a digital safe for keeping your valuables.  The closet is the bridge between the sleeping area and the bathroom. Everything about the bathroom is pure luxury. There is lots of space in between the double sinks, toilet, shower and another large built in window seat.  There is plenty of hot water for both of us to have showers at night and in the morning and the water pressure is excellent. Overall, the banda is spacious and filled with natural light.  It is obvious that a lot of thought has been put into the design unlike any place we’ve seen before.  Its luxury and comfort in harmony with nature.

Dining Room
The main lodge building was the original coffee store and processing plant and has been restored to a spacious oasis.  The large open space is divided into separate areas with unique room dividers which create different areas without losing the feeling of openness.  There are plenty of different chairs, sofa’s and seats to choose from, there is something for everyone.  If sitting inside isn’t for you, there is a large covered verandah. At the end of the day, we convene with our friends in the dining area of the main lodge. The large dining table is surrounding by an eclectic variety of dining chairs.  Around the table we talk about the day, discuss in length what we should do the next day, share stories of past safaris, laugh, cherish the joys of being in good company and enjoy a three course meal.  We are offered choices for the starter and the main course including vegetarian options.   My husband and I selected different options so that we could try everything.  We weren’t disappointed with any of our choices; the food was plentiful and delicious.  My pork chop was one of the best I’ve ever had and the meat was falling off the bone, served with creamy mashed potatoes and perfectly crunchy beans and carrots.  My husband’s coq au vin was tender and full of flavor served with roast potatoes and vegetables.  A very sticky rich toffee pudding was the final course served.  After a hot cup of tea we retired to our banda to fall asleep to the sound of the Kyambura River rushing below in the gorge.

The day starts before the crack of dawn with a knock on the door and a tray of hot coffee and fresh orange cake.  We relish in the warmth of the coffee before setting out into the cool crisp misty morning.  Before leaving on our morning drive we sit down to a cooked breakfast made to order served with fresh juice and toast while watching the darkness turn into daylight.  After a great breakfast we drive into the Queen Elizabeth National Park.   We’re not disappointed for the early start as we lay eyes on a lioness and
shortly thereafter a hyena.  After a successful and beautiful drive in Queen Elizabeth enjoying the wildlife and the African landscape we return to the lodge.  This gives us some time to relax on the verandah of the main lodge with a cold drink and see what we can find looking through the large spotting scope.  It’s not long before the staff beckons us to a set table to enjoy a light two course lunch of salad and vegetable couscous.  In the afternoon we take the boat trip on the Kazinga Channel and are treated with seeing a leopard, elephants, buffalo, hippo, crocodiles and numerous species of birds.  The day ends on a high since after nine years and dozens of game drives this is our first opportunity to see leopard.  With the sun starting to lower in the sky, we make it back to the lodge in time to see a beautiful sunset. The mood around the dining table tonight is exuberant.  Over a glass of wine and more delicious food we recall the highlights of the day.  We opted for game viewing in the park during our stay, however other activities nearby include trekking Chimpanzee’s, bird watching, walking and exploring the surrounding communities.

The next morning we are again woken with a knock and a tray of coffee and cake, only this time we are getting ready for a trip back to Kampala.  We feel like we have to tear ourselves away.  We don’t want to leave the comfort and quiet of this stunning lodge.  The hospitality that we have experienced over the last couple of days is second to none and with a heavy heart we climb into the car.  As we look out the window we see the entire staff of Kyambura Gorge Lodge including the kitchen staff smiling, waving and wishing us a safe journey.  As we drive away we hear lot’s of voices chiming “see you next time”.  It is without doubt they will be seeing us again!

At present there are four banda’s with a further four under construction and due to open in 2012.  When we visited the pool, changing rooms and massage room was still under construction but nearing completion and scheduled to open soon.

Booking Information
salesug@volcanoessafaris.com
+256 414 346464

Originally published in The Eye Magazine December-January 2012

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for posting this on your blog it means a lot! We would have said thanks via email but you dont seem to have any contact details! Keep up the great work and if you ever want any guest posts from us please do get in touch.

    toby@volcanoessafaris.com

    ReplyDelete