Bakers Lodge – Murchison Falls NP
By Michelle Sutton
For nearly a decade, Exclusive Camps and Lodges have been well-known for offering high quality lodges in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest NP (Buhoma Lodge) and Ishasha, Queen Elizabeth NP (Ishasha Wilderness Camp). Recently, their newest addition has opened its doors in the ever popular Murchison Falls NP and it is no surprise that it boasts the same “wow” factor as the other lodges. Situated on the south bank of the mighty Nile River, guests can sit at eye level to the river and watch as it gently flows by. The proximity to the Nile River is what sets this lodge apart from all others. All that lies between the lodge and one of the most famous rivers of all time is sprawling grass and large shade trees. Bakers Lodge offers a Nile River experience like no other.
Bakers lodge is named after the British explorer Samuel Baker, who is famous for his exploration of the Nile. Late in the 1800’s Samuel and his wife Florence spent time around the area during their expedition of the river. Samuel Baker was the first European to view and subsequently name the Murchison Falls. In keeping with this theme, the decor of the lodge is reminiscent of the exploration era. Wood, leather and canvas are abundant in the main lodge area which is a large wooden deck raised up off the ground. There are several large sofas and chairs to relax in and enjoy the view, read a book or just to sit and contemplate just where you are in the world. A large portion of the main lodge is covered with a thatch roof with an open air deck on each side. The bar stocks wines and a selection of spirits as well as water, soda and local beer which is kept cold via their eco friendly solar powered energy system.
Accommodation at Bakers Lodge is individual cottages elevated off the ground. The very spacious en-suite cottages have large netted windows on all sides for an open airy feeling. Each cottage is positioned with consideration of privacy from others, has a wooden deck off the front and a view of the river, a great place to sip on your morning cup of coffee or tea. The cottages are furnished with wooden furniture, a writing desk and chair, beds with side tables, lockable safe, and an open wardrobe for clothes and is lit with solar lighting. The large netted windows on the front of the cottage roll up for an unobstructed view of the river and the beds have been designed to sit up in comfortably to enjoy the view. I sat on my bed for quite some time with my binoculars, enjoying the bird life and the view while listening to the grunts of hippos. I felt like I was watching a large HDTV and had to pinch myself that what I was watching was real. It was awesome! The cottages are self contained with a large bathroom, flushing toilet and running water. Double sinks sit on top of a spacious wooden table with a mirror hanging above. The shower is open and faces the view so while you are washing off the dust of the day, you can revel in the amazing view. Hot water in the bathroom is provided by a solar energy system.
Every evening, just before sunset a fire is lit between the main lodge and the river. It’s a great place to sit with a cold drink, watch the last of the day light fade away, reflect on your day, watch the stars in the sky slowly come to life and cherish another day in Africa. The campfire is a great place to interact with other guests and swap safari stories. The ever attentive staff is never far away to take your drink orders so you don’t have to leave the magic and the ambiance of the fire. Once dinner is ready, the staff show you to your table, top up your drinks and begin the dinner service.
The food at Bakers Lodge was nothing short of amazing. All of the meals we had were delicious and plentiful. We started our mornings with a wake up call at our cottage followed by a freshly brewed cup of coffee on our verandah. As we sat and enjoyed the dawn of a new day, many species of birds were fishing and hunting in the nearby wetland next the river while agama lizards chased each other to protect their territory on the ground and in the trees around us. Breakfast is served in the main lodge and cooked as per your order along with fresh fruit, cereal, cold meats and cheeses, coffee, tea and fresh juice served buffet style. We had our three course lunch al fresco in the shade of a large tree on the deck of the main lodge. As the gentle breeze blew we enjoyed both the view and the food. After some sundowners around the fire, we had a four course dinner under a blanket of stars on the deck. As we savoured a salad course, soup course, main course and dessert, we talked about our day and made plans for the next while listening to the night sounds of crickets, frogs, hippos. The dinner atmosphere at Bakers Lodge was magical and a perfect way to end a day.
Getting to Bakers Lodge, you have a choice of routes once you reach Masindi town which is 215 kilometres north of Kampala. The most direct route is to enter Murchison Falls NP from the Kichumbanyobo gate which takes you through the south side of the park through the Kaniyo Pabidi forest. A longer but more scenic route passes through Budongo forest before descending into the rift valley next to Lake Albert. This route gets you to the lodge without entering the national park as Bakers Lodge sits just outside of the Bugungu gate. The lodge is well marked with signposts at the entrance, so it’s easy to find.
Murchison Falls National Park is the largest park in Uganda and offers plenty of activities for visitors. The park is home to elephant, buffalo, lion, leopard, giraffe, hyena, jackal, hippos and the Nile crocodiles which are reputed to be “huge”. The park is well known for its diverse bird population, including the most sought after and unique resident, the shoebill.
A variety of boat excursions can be done on the Nile river. The waterfall cruise travels up the Nile River to the base of Murchison Falls which is a spectacular sight. Along the way you can view many species of birds, mammals near the shore that are coming to the water to drink and crocodiles both in and out of the water. The delta cruise travels down the Nile River to the Victoria Nile Delta where the bird life is prolific and is the best place to search for the shoebill. If you’re ready for a fishing experience like none other, you can bait your hooks in anticipation for a mighty Nile Perch. Fishing safaris with an experienced guide and equipment are a popular activity in the area.
All of the boat activities operate daily and can be arranged through Bakers Lodge which has its own fleet of boats and can pick you up from the lodge for the various excursions. Special arrangements can also be made for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks or sundowners on board. You can also make your safari more interesting by combining the boats and a safari drive. Cruise down the Nile River to the delta by boat at sunrise to experience the area from the water and then return with a game drive through the Buligi area which offers a number of tracks and where wildlife abounds.
Chimpanzee trekking can be done in the nearby Budongo forest where you can observe chimpanzees in their natural habitat as well as other primates such a black and white colobus monkeys. This gentle walk through the forest is an amazing way to experience the sounds of an equatorial tropical rainforest.
For me, the highlight of my stay at Bakers Lodge was the proximity to the river and the spectacular views of it from anywhere around lodge. I loved the slightly elevated bird’s eye 180 degree river views from the wooden deck of the main lodge and from my cottage the front roll up floor to ceiling large window was pure indulgence. Lying comfortably on the bed, gazing at the river and listening to the birds, every tension in my entire body melted away.
If you are planning a trip to Murchison Falls NP, throw yourself back into the time of exploration at Bakers Lodge. Sit in luxury on the banks of the Nile River and imagine what it was like for Samuel Baker to discover this amazing part of Uganda.
For more information and reservations:
Uganda – Wild Frontiers Exclusive Camps & Lodges
PO Box 619, Entebbe, Uganda
Tel/Fax: +256 414 321 479
Mobile: +256 772 721 155