By Jonathan Benaiah (The Ugandan Tourist)
Perched atop a hill of endless green in the western part of Uganda, approximately 4 hours by road from Kampala; and less than an hour from the gate that grants access to Lake Mburo National Park, Mpogo Safari Lodge is a paradise of beautiful solitude with views of hills and valleys dressed in farmland.
That Saturday morning with a group of tour operators we left the organized chaos of Kampala city a few minutes after the hour of 09:00am and drove west through Mpigi and Masaka, arriving in Kiruhura district and then taking a right turn onto a dirt road guarded by fields of trees dotted with cattle on either side. This bumpy and dusty road soon brought us to the heaven we had all sacrificed the Saturday morning sleep for.
Being a new little-known place, my expectations were quite at the medium level having seen only a few low quality images, but not often do you find a place more beautiful than what a photographer presents to the eye. Mpogo Safari Lodge wowed me.
Welcomed by a chilled face towel and a sweet cold glass of juice (a cocktail of passion and pineapple juice), in the presence of a lukewarm breeze; we received the usual briefing and were then led to the eating spot for our lunch. We were hungry, we were a little tired, and there’s nothing better than a healthy warm lunch that would have made up for a fine solution to our temporary problems.
Having been fed, and our energy levels back to normal; we were ready to see our rooms. “Some of you will sleep in the cultural rooms while the rest will get the more modern and luxurious rooms”, said Steven our host for the night, as he led us through the wide green compound that was only separated by trees and lodge rooms. I felt it quite unfortunate not to sleep in the cultural homes, because that’s usually what I look out for on all trips, but I certainly got a comfortable room with a big bed, a reading table with electricity, and an en-suite bathroom with both cold and warm water.
That evening we took a short trip down to Lake Mburo National Park, the smallest of all Uganda’s savanna national parks but one filled with unimaginable numbers of wildlife and plant species. During that Saturday evening game drive, we got to see plenty of zebras in their black and white coats, kobs, impalas, waterbucks, buffalo, hippos, olive baboons, topi, and the definitive highlight was seeing the newborn giraffe baby born of one of the 14 giraffes that had been translocated from Murchison Falls National Park by Uganda Wildlife Authority in 2015.
We returned to the lodge for a hearty dinner and some calm entertainment from a local traditional dance group around a camp fire, under the African moon, with sounds of birds and crickets. You can watch that video on my YouTube channel.
Summing up the day, our other host, Sharon, informed us of the following day’s program; which would start with an early morning visit to a local farm (owned by Dr. Samuel Mugasi who is also the proprietor of Mpogo Safari Lodge), followed by breakfast after which we would checkout and embark on our journey back to Kampala with a short detour to the neighboring ghee and yoghurt processing point called Amareebe.
On this particular trip I milked my first cow and had my first taste of raw (unpasteurized) milk, not so hygienic so they say but I just went for it, and it was worth the experience. And I got to learn more about why this part of Uganda is called a land of milk and honey because of the presence of many herds of cattle that provide a regular daily supply of that white drink, as well as the free natural existence of beehives and the Ankole ladies in this region whose beauty is equated to the taste of honey.
I highly recommend Mpogo Safari Lodge for anyone seeking an immersion into the traditional life of a Ugandan, particularly the people of Ankole. I’d equally present it as an excellent option of a place to stay during a safari to the compacted gem that is Lake Mburo National Park or a stopover during a safari to or from the western parks of Queen Elizabeth and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. This 13 room facility offers mid-range accommodation at very affordable prices starting at $80. From the main dining area, guests can enjoy views of the nearby wildlife as well as the stunning evening sunsets over Lake Mburo National Park.
Until next time, I remain yours truly, The Ugandan Tourist.