Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Rwakobo Rock - Lake Mburo National Park

Main Lodge with great views over Lake Mburo National Park
Not far from the Nshara Gate at Lake Mburo National Park, on a large outcrop of rocks is Rwakobo Rock, a newly opened family run lodge and restaurant.  The lodge is 8km off the Masaka/Mbarara Highway and is outside of the park which makes it a convenient place to break up your travels, either for lunch or an overnight stay.

The large main lodge overlooks part of Lake Mburo National Park and the adjacent Ankole cattle ranches and homesteads.  This impressive thatched roof structure has a bar and reception area near the entrance, a hammock strung between two eucalyptus poles and a few sofas and chairs to relax in.  There is also a nook with a glass bottle wall and built in adobe style seating covered with cushions, a nice place to sit and enjoy some of the magazines, books and games that are provided.  At the far end is the dining area with a view of the watering hole that has been constructed to attract birds and wildlife.  At the time of my visit, this sizable main building was sparsely furnished.  I was told that more furniture and furnishings were planned to fill the voids and create a more comfortable atmosphere.  Rwakobo Rock definitely has something to grow into.

View from the Main Lodge into Lake Mburo National Park

There are 8 cottages interconnected to the main lodge by murram pathways. Rwakobo Rock offers rock rooms that look out into the community land and bush rooms that are tucked into the surrounding vegetation.  Our cottage was a rock room and was a few minute walk from the main lodge.  We entered the cottage from the back and inside was a large bed covered by a mosquito net, a chair and an open unit for hanging clothes.  Through an archway was the bathroom with sink, large walk in shower and toilet.  Large netted windows in the bathroom make up the one side of the shower and provide a view outside.  Each room has its own solar water system so we had an ample supply of hot water for showers.  The decor and furniture in our cottage was simple and functional.  We did miss not having a towel bar so had to get a little creative with where to hang our wet towels.  Off the front of our cottage was a small veranda with a couple of chairs and a view that looks onto a large relatively flat expanse of rock that drops off into the bush below.  We had coffee delivered to our room in the morning which we sipped while sitting on the veranda, a great place to start the day and enjoy the sunshine while many species of birds drank and bathed in small pools of water on the rocks.

Our cottage
Inside our cottage
The bathroom

During our two nights stay at Rwakobo Rock we enjoyed a number of served meals.  Our first night the set menu was Mexican.  The starter was red onion soup, followed by a main course of Mexican tortillas, beef, beans, salsa, guacamole, sour cream, cheese and rice served as a mini buffet on our table.  The food was very tasty and satisfying and the portions generous.  Dessert was a real treat!  Pumpkin pie with a dollop of fresh cream.  The second night our starter was pumpkin soup followed by a choice of either pan fried fish or pork chops served with vegetables and rice.  Between the two of us we tried both options and once again were not disappointed.  For dessert we were served pineapple upside down cake.  It didn’t consist of a lot of cake but the pineapple was hot sticky and delicious.  Breakfasts at Rwakobo Rock are cooked to order with a choice of eggs done your way, bacon, sausage, beans and toast alongside juice and coffee or tea.  Accommodation rates are half board which leaves you the option to lunch elsewhere or for an additional cost either arrange a packed lunch or have lunch at the lodge.  The first day we didn’t know that there was a packed lunch option. We were on a safari drive in the park, so we nibbled on snacks that we had brought with us from Kampala.  The next day after a late morning game drive we had lunch at the lodge and were given a choice of burgers or a cold meat and cheese platter.  We both chose the platters which were good, refreshing and light on a hot day.

There is no shortage of things to do around Rwakobo Rock if you’re looking for something more than just relaxing and enjoying the views.  Game drives are an obvious choice.  As we were rather unfamiliar with Lake Mburo, we asked Chris and Katie (the lodge owners) for suggestions.  They recommended that we follow the Research Track in search of game and that a drive up to the Kazuma Hill lookout was a great place for 360 degree views of the surrounding area.  We weren’t disappointed by their suggestions.  The research track was densely populated by game and birdlife and although we arrived on top of Kazuma Hill in the pouring rain, we waited out the storm and when the skies cleared we were astounded by the beauty around us.  Night drives are another popular choice and can be booked through the UWA office in the park or through the lodge.  With the increasing number of leopard being spotted in the park, I would guess that this might be an exciting activity to try.  Boat trips on Lake Mburo are run by the UWA several times a day and if you are a keen birder, you won’t pass up this opportunity to spot the African Finfoot.  Other highlights of the boat trip are hippos and crocodiles.  The lodge has a couple of bicycles for hire which can be used to explore around the lodge outside of the park boundary.  The lodge also offers nature walks. We did a couple of small walks around the lodge and enjoyed both little jaunts which gave us the chance to explore what was around us.

Mother Zebra with her young
Upon our visit to Rwakobo Rock some areas were still under construction and the lodge was still in its infancy stages.  We had an enjoyable stay and would consider Rwakobo Rock a decent option for those looking for mid range accommodation around Lake Mburo.

A few things to bring:
Evenings can get chilly on top of the rock so be sure to bring something warm with you.
A decent flashlight/torch as some of the pathways are narrow and unlit.
A pair of close toed shoes may help out on the murram pathways and other areas as things could get messy in the rain
Binoculars to enjoy the views and birdlife around the lodge

Rates & Booking Information
Chris & Katie
+256 755 211771

Female Bushbuck