You must be wondering where to visit after lockdown.
Close to fourteen months ago we were in Jinja with friends, rafting close to the source of the legendary Nile with a local adventure company. By April we would have completed yet another escapade, but COVID-19 happened. It’s been a turbulent few months, but the good news is the the dust is settling and once the restrictions are eased we will revisit some favorite spots and explore the unknown lands that we always hoped to visit.
There are particular retreats that have influenced our paths to wander for so many years. Others remain as fresh as fresh can be. Some locally owned and run, others bring an unrivaled experience from foreign lands.
Whether new or old, whether locally managed or foreign-owned, as we wait for the COVID-19 pandemic to phase out and the lockdown to ease, it’s worth dreaming of the holiday spots that we hope to visit when it’s safe to board a plane or hit the road again.
For the record, none of these properties paid to be advertised. This is purely a recommendation based on my personal experiences, those of my most experienced nomadic friends, and game changers in the tourism sector who have sent satisfied customers to these little paradises time and again.
In no particular order, here are 50 incredible Ugandan safari escapes for you to visit after lockdown.
Wild Waters Lodge – Kalagala Island
The lodge is in a different world. Wild Waters Lodge is no stranger to travel-lists and should be on your list of spots to visit soon. Accessible only by boat, the lodge is located at a breathtaking spot (roughly six hectares) on a private island paradise called Kalagala; and wrapped between trees. This location is kept awake by the constant sounds of thundering rapids on the majestic River Nile. The Lemala Family who own and run this retreat have been working hard behind the scenes to prepare for when the guests return; they shared on their Facebook a few days ago. I bet it will be lovelier for returning and new guests.
Ndali Lodge – Kabarole (Western Uganda)
Ndali has that luxurious, colonial-vibe, run by third-generation owners. It rests at the edge of the stunning Lake Nyinambuga, a mesmerizing ridgetop location. From here, views of the Rwenzori ranges are to behold. Definitely an awesome spot to checkout for someone looking for where to go after lockdown.
Twin Lake Safari Lodge – Bunyaruguru
I love the rooms at Twin Lake Safari Lodge, the rustic bathrooms in particular. Needless to say that at its elevated location in the beautiful surroundings of the Bunyaruguru great crater you will enjoy some of the clearest views of the wild plains of Queen Elizabeth National Park. The animals come to the lodge, but not too close that you should be afraid. When I slept here, in the mornings I could spot elephants in the plains below. The lodge is owned by the just-retired Chief Justice of Uganda, Bart Magunda Katureebe, and I was fortunate to sleep in his room, on his bed (monkey emojis) when I visited. Friendly staff, very good food. Put this on your wish-list as you plan where to go after lockdown.
Nile Safari Lodge – Murchison Falls National Park
This is effortlessly one of Uganda’s finest lodges today. The lodge was recently renovated and launched. Let’s just say everything is new, everything is out of this world. If your plan is to have a room with a view, this is it! They have those wild outside showers that bring you closer to the hippos yet still safe from leopards. This high-end property runs on green energy. All guests enjoy a private terrace facing the mighty waters of River Nile. Almost everything is available from an infinity pool to WiFi and a delicious ala-carte menu. This one is on my list and I highly recommend you visit sometime soon.
Ishasha Wilderness Camp – Queen Elizabeth National Park
Set next to Ntungwe River, Ishasha Wilderness Camp is an idyllic retreat for people who truly enjoy the wilderness. Being within the park the wildlife is free to also pass through the camp and elephants can be seen bathing in the river, buffalo enjoy grazing, and resident troops of Black-and-White Colobus and vervet monkeys are frequently viewed. If you are lucky, George, the lone hippo, can also be seen beside the camp. The Ishasha sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park is popular for its tree-climbing lions and sleeping at this Wilderness Camp offers an opportunity to sight these wonders of Africa.
Nkuringo Bwindi Gorilla Lodge
This locally owned lodge, formerly Nkuringo Gorilla Camp, has evolved over the years from a campsite in 2007 to fully-fledged award-winning lodge. All rooms are designed to pamper every guest. The entire lodge features stunning works of art from this region and beyond. At its location adjacent to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, the lodge is the ideal spot for tracking mountain gorillas in the Nkuringo sector. The mountain gorillas have been giving birth to new babies and this could inspire your list of where to go after lockdown. The views from your room are rewarding!
Rwakobo Rock – Lake Mburo National Park
This property is located outside the national park, but its eco-lodging setup makes you forget you aren’t inside Lake Mburo’s enclosures. The family-owned lodge is perched on a rocky outcrop that overlooks Lake Mburo, National Park. Rwakobo rock with its many rooms is a place of respite. An incredible place to send stress packing. Check their website for activities on offer including bike safaris, cultural walks, and game drive and walk combos.
Sipi River Lodge
This is a real retreat set in beautiful gardens with porch rockers and a creek-side trail to the second waterfall. Their on-site restaurant serves some of your best local and continental cuisine using ingredients sourced from their private vegetable garden. The restaurant also welcomes walk-in guests for espresso drinks and homemade meals. You are guaranteed a nice stay in one of the most picturesque parts of Uganda. Sipi River Lodge’s location in the foothills of Mount Elgon, famous for three spectacular waterfalls, is home to an incredible number of bird species, some of the best Arabica coffee in the world, and magical sunsets. Stay here if you are visiting Sipi Falls.
Kyambura Gorge Lodge – Rubirizi
This eclectic safari lodge has been converted from an old coffee store to create a breathtakingly beautiful space. The lodge is located on the edge of Queen Elizabeth National Park with sweeping views of the rolling savanna, the distant mountains of the moon, and the sunken Kyambura Gorge that shelters the rare chimpanzees. The stylish bandas also have a contemporary theme with the accent on local artifacts re-imagined in a new context. Kyambura is owned and managed by the Volcanoes group of lodges and is effortlessly one of the finest properties. A good place for a treat after the lockdown.
Semliki Safari Lodge – Semliki Wildlife Reserve
Staying at Semliki is like stepping back in time. It evokes the spirit of the old explorers, it piques curiosity and inspires discovery. Semliki is secluded and intimate. With a maximum of 18 guests, they promise excellent service and attention to detail…and an unforgettable experience. Guests at Semliki stay in golden-hued tents with gleaming hardwood floors. Staying under canvas is one of the most romantic and exciting things to do in on safari in Africa. My most threatening but also best wild elephant encounter was in this place. I hope to visit again soon… The lodge is owned and managed by the Wildplaces Africa group.
Adere Safari Lodge – Kidepo Valley Natioal Park
This newly launched lodge is located on the boundary of the remote and virgin Kidepo Valley National Park. Locally owned and run, Adere features a modern-traditional vibe hundreds of miles from the capital city, Kampala. Enjoy a broad range of activities, and retire to Adere’s comfortable cottages, at the end of each day. The views of the wild Kidepo plains from Adere throughout the day change with the weather but are always beautiful. Friendly staff, great food, in a lovely location.
Emburara Fam Lodge
Waking up to sounds of mooing cows and witnessing early chores by herdsmen is a lot more interesting than you may underestimate. Emburara Farm Lodge is a high-end Eco-luxury property promoting cultural tourism and conservation of flora and fauna in a fresh, serene and relaxed farm environment. The lodge is great for cultural experiences, family stays, honeymoon, business meetings, and retreats, including individual holidays. The architecture alone will blow you away. They definitely put in the work and had the best hands in putting this property together. I LOVE it!
Turaco Treetops – Kibale
Turaco Treetops is Kibale Forest’s newest semi-luxe lodge. Turaco Treetops is the place to go on a chimpanzee trekking holiday, share tasty meals, laugh, read a book near their fireplace, learn about nature, play a game, or take a dip in their refreshing pool. And not to forget: enjoy that well-deserved hot shower and comfortable beds that help you get ready for a new day of exploration in the Kibale Forest region. The lodge is owned my people with years of experience in the tourism and safari business.
Chobe Safari Lodge – Murchison Falls National Park
This one is no stranger to tourism publications. Located in the Murchison Falls National Park, this Five Star lodge is undoubtedly the gem in Uganda’s crown of tourism destinations. The breathtaking panoramic views, coupled with the sounds of the River Nile’s magnificent rapids, sets the scene for an adventure that will impress even the most discerning of visitors. Two years ago, American Rapper and Superstar, Kanye West stayed here with his wife and daughter, like to endorse this as a place worth keeping on your list of places to visit and revisit. Chobe is one of the properties under the Marasa Holdings, a chain of lodges and resorts in the East African region.
Crater Safari Lodge – Kibale
This is one of Uganda’s most prized lodges, locally owned and in an ideal setting. If you’re after a once-in-a-lifetime great-ape encounter that won’t break the bank, head to the enchanting Kibale Forest National Park in Uganda and spend magical moments with one of the planet’s most fascinating primate, the chimpanzee. Crater Safari Lodge that is located adjacent to the park is the perfect spot to begin your journey. Its location on the edge of an extinct crater lake presents many more fun activities for visitors to enjoy including canoeing, community visits, hikes, kayaking, etc.
The Rainforest Lodge – Mabira Forest
The Rainforest Lodge is located between Kampala and Jinja making this ‘nearby yet far away lodge’ a favorite among both residents and foreign tourists. Set within Mabira Forest, Uganda’s second-largest forest, you find yourself surrounded by nature’s beauty. The forest is home to 312 species of trees, 315 species of birds, 218 Butterfly species, and 23 small mammal species.
Pakuba Safari Lodge – Murchison Falls National Park
The sun rose beautifully that one Saturday morning slowly radiating almost all the corners of the 3,893 sqkm protected area that is Murchison Falls National Park. At the bottom of my heart, I had this feeling of confidence that I could look forward to an awesome day and I wasn’t disappointed. We slept at Pakuba Safari Lodge and this right here is still one of my favorite escapes. The lodge is nestled on the Eastern Bank of the Albert Nile offering panoramic views of the mighty River Nile, sweeping vistas of the surrounding riverine forest below and the captivating surrounding wilderness where travelers get the chance to sight Giraffes, Elephants, Antelopes and occasionally Leopards that pay regular visits to the lodge. This above everything stoked me. The fact that you can just be driving away from the lodge and right there is a lion, elephant or leopard. Definitely a place to revisit
Kasenyi Safari Camp – Queen Elizabeth National Park
Phillip welcomes you with an American-Ugandan accent before he quickly switches to luganda (vernacular) if you are from these lands, just to make you feel more at home. From the main lodge area, you can enjoy views of the salt lake below. The sunrises every day are a thing to wake up to. Your butler will walk you to your room with one of Phillip’s many cats escorting you, and later in the night, you may be awakened by the actual true cats of this place, the lions. The lodge has a resident lion pride which will sometimes camp under your luxurious safari tent or roar in the night. A swimming pool is on the cards.
Gorilla Heights Lodge – Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
This is the newest addition to the list of luxury properties in the Bwindi-mountain gorilla area. The thrilling safari experience of trekking Uganda’s Mountain Gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest beckons for an exclusive sanctuary for you to retreat. Gorilla Heights Lodge sits on the axis of Nkuringo hill, offering lavish blends of the breathtaking sights of a rolling forest canopy and jagged mountain ranges. The rooms have been delicately woven with modern architecture and African design to create the ultimate blend of luxury. Everything is extravagantly planned to spoil you including the heated pool that will warm you up even on the chilliest of days.
Elephant Plains Lodge
This is the freshest baby in Uganda Lodges’ collection of safari retreats; undoubtedly the finest of them all. Perched 941 meters above sea level, high upon the western escarpment of the Albertine rift in the northeastern part of the Queen Elizabeth National Park, Elephant Plains lodge offers panoramic views stretching for miles over the huge open grasslands to lake George. only 2 minutes to the park gate, nowhere else here can you sleep closer to the equator with views of the equator monument visible from all around the lodge. Nestled next to beautiful lake Kikorongo this is where the open plains merge into the crystal waters and seeing large numbers of Elephants coming to drink from the water makes sense of the lodge’s name.
Papaya Lake Lodge
This lodge is surrounded by the lush, evergreen landscapes of the Ugandan Great Crater Lakes region, set between two extinct volcanoes, nestled against the turquoise waters of the Lyantonde and Kifuruka lakes and with exhilarating views towards the majestic Rwenzori Mountain Range. The lodge is close to Kibale Forest National Park, making it one of many splendid retreats to stay during a Chimpanzee safari. Its oasis of nine luxurious cottages, a restaurant, and a beautiful swimming pool with a scenic terrace reflect the passion that the owners had in setting things up. Papaya’s European owners wish you’ll visit soon, I bet they can’t wait to show you around this beautiful part of western Uganda.
Buffalo Safari Lodge – Queen Elizabeth National Park
Buffalo Safari Lodge is located next to Queen Elizabeth Park, near the magical Kazinga channel. The lodge has both standard and deluxe cottages, a total of 17 rooms making it the ideal place for large groups of 20 guests or more. Buffalo Lodge has world-class and experienced staff, a fully stocked bar and restaurant, with a lounge that gives guests and visitors a spectacular view of Queen Elizabeth park nearby, and Lakes Edward and George. A great place to visit or revisit.
Sanctuary Retreats Gorilla Safari Camp
This one is for the large pockets. A luxury property owned and managed by internationally famed hospitality brand, Sanctuary Retreats. The lodge is located in the northern sector of Buhoma, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Ecologically respectful, contemporary-yet-classic in style, Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp blends in sensitively with the dramatic African mountain landscape and, situated uniquely inside the national park, you are only minutes away from the start of your gorilla trekking adventure.
Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge
Across the forest in the southerly sector of Nkuringo (Bwindi Impenetrable National Park) sits one of the country’s coolest heavens, the bespoke Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge. Picture this: You are sitting up on a ridge, above the clouds, looking across to the Virunga volcanoes. Behind you is the primordial, mysterious and impenetrable forest that is Bwindi. As you sit there, drinking your chilled wine, or your freshly brewed coffee, or your freshly squeezed juice you smile. You smile because you know that your personal butler is lighting the fire in your cottage and setting out your freshly laundered clothes. In the kitchen a gorgeous meal is being prepared, and tomorrow after breakfast you will walk from the lodge to the Nkuringo trailhead and track the last few surviving mountain gorillas. Purely heavenly!
Kidepo Savanna Lodge
Everyone that has slept here narrates the ordeal of lions roaring outside the tent. It’s not just the king of the jungle that visits, many more wildlife species love to share the space with tourists. This is for my people that love the wild , this is for my people that love a distant place where the only sounds are those of Africa’s safari celebrities. Kidepo Savanna Lodge rests on the boundary of Kidepo Valley National Park, delivering excellent value. The lodge is inspired by the savanna surroundings, the grasslands, rocky outcrops, and by the Karamojong, the tribe with their typical manyattas and colorful blankets.
Elephant Hab Lodge – Queen Elizabeth National Park
At the shoulders of the famous Kyambura Gorge, Elephant Hab Lodge offers visitors an unforgettable experience with its brilliant views of the savannah plains of Queen Elizabeth National Park. When you visit, you will be able to take part in remarkable activities like nature walks and game drives, chimpanzee tracking, and the rich stories told by the locals are something to look forward to.
Ishasha Jungle Lodge – Queen Elizabeth National Park
In the less popular, but highly rewarding southerly sector of Queen Elizabeth National park, you’ll find this awesome retreat. You have heard the stories of tree-climbing lions, but there’s more than that to see. Ishasha Jungle Lodge is surrounded by riparian forest vegetation and acacia Savannah. It is is a small, intimate eco-friendly lodge, and made entirely from locally-sourced materials and African art. Its raised en-suite wooden deck cottages, spacious rooms and bathroom, all finished with canvas will be great spots to pull out your camera to capture the moment to share with friends and family.
Mahogany Springs – Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
This private retreat is on the edge of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, one of the spots on my bucketlist. My friends who have visited describe it as luxurious enough to be extremely comfortable, yet still, retain enough rough edges to give you that wild jungle spirit of adventure. The rooms are very nice and clean. The staff are extremely helpful, convivial, and will go out of their way to make you comfortable.
Paraa Safari Lodge – Murchison Falls National Park
On the northern shores of the Nile, in Murchison Falls National Park, this classic African safari lodge has an awesome location and stellar views. Definitely one of the oldest properties in Uganda (opened in 1954) but still a favorite for many to revisit. All the rooms are well furnished and have marble bathrooms and balconies. For even better views, you can choose an upstairs room. At Paraa you can be guaranteed of elephant sightings as they come out of the bush to quench their thirst from the waters of the Nile. The property is owned and managed by Marasa Africa, a conglomerate of luxury safari escapes in Africa.
Chameleon Hill Lodge
You got that wrong. This lodge is not owned by the famous musician, Jose Chameleone, but it definitely is a lodge of many colors. The hilltop lodge provides some of the best first impressions with a flair that doesn’t seem to stop. Its 10 chalets are designed to keep you warm and comfy, with plenty of arty touches, all with porches and panoramas soaring over the lake below. The lodge is not only a nice retreat for gorilla safari travelers or those looking for a boat ride to a local school; it will also serve you a relaxing massage followed by your favorite meal. Be prepared to fall in love.
Mihingo Lodge – Lake Mburo National Park
With one of Uganda’s most magical locations and a swimming pool that was dug deep into a 500 million-years-old rock kopje, Mihingo Lodge is on almost every bucketlists. This retreat is a family-owned luxurious lodge adjacent to Lake Mburo National Park, not too far from Kampala, Uganda’s Capital City. It has some of the most spectacular views over a vast savanna landscape designed from a blend of locally sourced materials from its fragile surroundings. The lodge is environmentally friendly, offers comfort and the experience of being at one with nature. Visit for a nature walk with zebras, a horseback safari through herds of hippo or cycle from the lodge to find the park’s thriving giraffe population. You hear good things about Mihingo!
Arcadia Cottages – Lake Bunyonyi
First things first. Arcadia Cottages chose a location that presents some of the most intoxicating views on the African continent. People have taken photos with their backs to the island dozen-dotted lake and have had a tough time convinging friends and family that this was not photoshop. Built upon a hill, Arcadia Cottages is a good pick for a road trip with family and friends. You might want to pick one of the rooms on the lower row because of their unhindered views. All rooms have private porches and en-suite facilities. From here you can start your tour to the neighboring community, go birding or enjoy boating on one of Africa’s deepest lakes. Did You Know this lake inspired scenes from Marvel’s record-breaking superhero movie, Black Panther? This might just point to one of the best escapes in the kingdom of Wakanda.