Home Magazine Issues April 2010 - May 2010 Accomodation: Jacana Safari Lodge

Jacana Safari Lodge

Review by The Eye

There are many lodges in Uganda well worth their weight in gold but there are in my opinion few lodges that can offer you a complete package of rest & relaxation – we found Jacana Safari Lodge to be one of these lodges.

Located just inside Queen Elizabeth National Park in the Western part of Uganda, on the edge of Uganda’s largest Crater Lake, Jacana Safari Lodge opened in 1998. The lodge is built from local resources, using rock, poles, wood, rope, organic furniture and rich textiles. One can see that a lot of imagination and effort went into building it. The lodge is all natural and extremely comfortable, whilst still giving one that homely feeling.

Jacana Safari Lodge has ten (10) independent, private luxury chalets that are surrounded by the dense Maramagambo Forest plus a family cottage that has two rooms that are joined together. Each chalet has a King size bed equipped with a mosquito net (mosquitoes are scarce), the rooms are spacious and comfortable. Each chalet has an en-suite bathroom with hot water for showers. An enclosed veranda with large windows, gives you an impressive view of the Crater Lake, which you can enjoy, with morning tea or coffee or a relaxing sundowner. They are also equipped with a bell on the outside so that you can ring it for room service like having an early morning coffee (if not pre-arranged), light snacks or drinks (this service did not seem to be working that well when I rang it the one morning though).

Up at the main lodge there is a super comfortable and really homely meeting area called The Virunga Lounge. It is equipped with a large stone fireplace and large comfortable sofas where we sat and had our drinks and talked about our day’s adventures. The bar at the lodge is fully stocked with spirits, beers, cold drinks, water and aperitifs – though there was a limited amount of ice when we were visiting.

The dining area is large and spacious with panoramic views of the Crater Lake. The meals at the lodge are tasty and superb. Having breakfast at Jacana is like being at home, you help yourself to a variety of cereals, fruit, bread and jam plus the usual eggs and bacon or omelet’s and toast. Lunches and dinners are pre-ordered and they usually serve you a four course meal that starts with a soup and ends with a delicious dessert / coffee & tea. Jacana caters for both meat eaters and vegetarians and one of the meals I thoroughly enjoyed was their veggie lasagna that came with the tastiest roast veggies – the meal was delicious. In fact, all the meals we ate while we there were super tasty, filling and healthy.

The lodge has a fantastic swimming pool which is located next to the lake along with plenty of sun loungers – the view of the Crater Lake from the Swimming pool is breathtaking and it is an ideal place to lounge around and read a book or take in the sights and sounds of the abundant birdlife and primates in the area. Next door to the swimming pool area is a sauna and massage room – the masseuse was not around when we were visiting so we didn’t get an opportunity to have a massage – call the lodge to find out if the masseuse is on duty to avoid disappointment.

There is little wildlife (big game) mainly primates at Jacana so, the activities that can be enjoyed at the lodge itself are birding and these can be seen by walking around the lodge, from the water’s edge of from the pontoon. Fishing can be fun, for smaller tilapia or walking. It is safe, secure and enjoyable. The Primate life is active and you should see various type of monkey (Red Tailed and Columbus). If you are looking to view big game you would need to travel to other side of Queen Elizabeth National Park. It takes around 11km’s to get from the lodge to the main road and from there a further 25kms to get into the park where you will see elephant, rhino, warthog, buffalo, lion (yes Lion – we actually saw these elusive animals at QENP for the first time since moving to Uganda), copious amounts of buck, guinea fowl, franklins and load and loads of birdlife. If you are looking to do something a little more adventurous during your stay at Jacana then try one of their many activities they have to offer, like kayaking, boat cruises on the Kazinga Channel, game drives and forest walks.

Our activity, if you want to call it that was to take a ride on the Captain’s Table – a floating pontoon where you can enjoy sundowners or a meal. Our ride on the pontoon was very special as we set out just before sundown for an hour’s ride. We heard the constant call of the Fish Eagle during our ride and we got to see three different types of Kingfisher including the Giant Kingfisher, which I am told is a rare sight, plus many Cormorants all making their way back to their respective homes. It was such a divine ride that I didn’t want it to end. This feeling reinforced my reasons for never wanting to leave Africa – it was beautiful. The best is when they cut the engine, drop anchor and you get to enjoy the sounds of nature.

We really enjoyed our stay at Jacana and if I had my way I would have stayed an extra night. I felt so relaxed and it was so peaceful that I didn’t want to travel back to Kampala. The lodge is well worth a visit.

How to get there:-
There are two routes to take to get to Jacana Safari Lodge from Kampala – the first route will take you to Fort Portal where there is a lot of road works going on and you will also encounter many speed humps. The second option is to travel to Mbarara, once again there are a lot of road-works going on plus you have the dusty option. Both routes will take around 6 hours to get to from Kampala. However, both roads are being extensively repaired and should be in much better states in the near future.

For more information, please contact:-
GeoLodges Africa
Tel: (041) 4258273, Fax: (041) 4233992.
Email: info@geolodgesafrica.com. Website: www.geolodgesafrica.com