Mweya Safari Lodge
by Michelle Sutton
An iconic landmark since the 1950’s, Mweya Safari Lodge is perched atop a hill on the Mweya peninsula and offers luxury accommodation in the heart of Queen Elizabeth National Park. As you approach the lodge from the road below, it’s completely unassuming, blending into the natural vegetation around it. Once inside the lodge, opulence and mesmerizing views surround you. The ambiance of the place takes you back in time and makes you feel like an early explorer from a bygone era.
On arrival to Mweya Safari Lodge, the lobby gives you an overall feel for the place. Large, spacious and furnished with leather chairs, sofas and safari decor, it’s lavish and inviting. On the opposite end of the main entrance is a large picture window that draws you closer to the view over Lake Edward and Katwe town. You can see part of the Mweya peninsula as well, dotted with elephant, hippos and buffalo. Cold juice and a cool towel welcome every guest on arrival. The main lodge of Mweya is sprawling and is well positioned great views no matter where you are.
Mweya Safari Lodge offers various accommodation options ranging from 32 standard rooms, 12 deluxe rooms with air conditioning, 2 suites, 2 standard and 2 luxury safari tents and several cottages. Standard and deluxe ensuite rooms are tastefully decorated in a safari theme and deliver comfort all around. Most of the rooms at Mweya Safari Lodge look out over the Kazinga channel so you can enjoy great views as you relax on your private veranda. Mweya Safari Lodge has 4 different cottages which are perfect for families or those wanting more space, privacy and amenities. For those seeking the ultimate luxury safari experience, the safari tents are sure not to disappoint and are thoughtfully placed to give guests the utmost privacy. Each tent has its own large wooden veranda, a perfect place to relax in privacy as you watch the animals on the far bank of the Kazinga Channel as they wander down to the waterside for a drink. With plenty of vegetation around the tents, there is no shortage of birdlife flitting about.
Inside the air conditioned luxury tent there is plenty of space. A writing desk sits in one corner with a basket overflowing with fresh fruit, tea and coffee facilities and a hidden bar fridge. In the other corner of the tent is a cozy sitting area with sofa, chair and coffee table. In the middle of the tent, a king sized bed rests underneath a whirring ceiling fan. At the head of the bed is a partition wall which separates the main part of the tent from a private closet area with dressing room, dressing table, mirror, hair dryer and a safe. The modern bathroom is situated at the back of the tent. As you enter the bathroom there is a spacious counter, double sinks and full over counter mirror. To the left is a large walk in shower and to the right a toilet and bidet. Overall the tent has ample space and every creature comfort has been thought of. What makes the tents so special is the mesh windows that allow you to enjoy all the sounds of the park from inside the comfort of your tent. Lie in bed and hear lions roar, hippos grunt and hyena cackle.
Mweya Safari Lodge is in the middle of a wildlife setting making escorts essential when returning to your room at night after dinner. Golf carts and driver get you back to the comfort of your room safely and swiftly. On our first night at the lodge before turning in for the night, we were relaxing on our veranda when we heard a rustling in the bushes next to us. We sat wondering what was making the noise in the bushes and to our surprise, a hippo emerged and walked calmly in front of our veranda a mere few metres from where we sat. We were thrilled as neither of us had ever been that close to a hippo, it was an amazing experience and as quickly as it began, it ended when the hippo disappeared into the bushes on the other side of our tent. We sat in awe. Not long after that, we heard the breaking of branches and soon discovered it was seven elephants metres from where we sat. We sat gazing at them as they ate to their hearts content, and then moved on. Mweya Safari Lodge may offer all the creature comforts, but it does so while keeping you amongst wildlife.
The Tembo Bar is in a corner of the main lodge and has a nice veranda that wraps around three sides of the bar. It’s a perfect place to enjoy a cold drink and gaze at the views. It has a wonderful atmosphere with various seating options. Leather furniture and safari decor abound while soft music plays in the background. With WiFi and panoramic views of Lake Edward and the Kazinga Channel, the Tembo Bar is an excellent place to sit any time of the day. The bar is well stocked with an extensive wine list, champagne and spirits as well as espressos and cappuccinos. The beer and soda are always icy cold to quench your thirst. The bar staff are friendly and always willing to have a chat in between their drink mixing and glass polishing. The atmosphere in the Tembo Bar throws you right back to the exploration era, so much so that you feel like an explorer yourself.
The Kazinga Restaurant is where meals are served at Mweya Safari Lodge. The restaurant has both indoor and outdoor seating. The outdoor seating is nice for those looking to take in the view or to enjoy the vast birdlife around the lodge. Be careful though, the weaver birds are sneaky and love to steal a nibble from your food and drink from your milk jug. They are entertaining to watch to say the least, but with time have become brave around humans. For me, they are part of the charm of mealtime on the terrace at Mweya Safari Lodge. The restaurant serves meals both a la carte and buffet style depending on the occupancy at the time. Both options offer a variety of cuisine from vegetarian, Indian, Continental and local Ugandan dishes. On a busy night, there is a nice buzz in the dining room, people chatting, laughing and enjoying the end of a day on safari in Africa. BBQ dinners and pasta evenings give an extra special dining experience and coincide with traditional singing and dancing. Once the sun goes down, the lawn outside of the Tembo Bar comes alive with people from the surrounding villages traditionally dressed. The songs and dances they perform are filled with local legend and storytelling accompanied by the deep rhythms of African drums. Guests can relish in the entertainment from the veranda of the bar before heading to the dining room for dinner. On the BBQ evenings, the chefs set up outside the dining room near the pool with their charcoal grills where they grill and roast an assortment of meat and vegetables. Here you can fill your plate with delicious grilled food before heading inside to compliment it with salads. During the pasta evenings a live cooking station is set up in the dining room where a chef is on hand to prepare your pasta dish with the fresh pasta and ingredients that you have chosen.
For guests looking for an exclusive dining experience during their stay at Mweya Safari Lodge, the bush breakfast and dinner were designed for this purpose. After an early morning game drive, when your stomach is starting to rumble, rather than going back to the lodge for breakfast, a full buffet breakfast is served in a seclusive location several kilometres away from the lodge. Tables, chairs and a team of chefs and waiters transform the bush into your own private dining area with a view overlooking the channel. Bush dinners are a magical experience. Late in the day, when the sun is dropping in the sky, head out into the bush for a sundowner overlooking Lake Edward. Once the sun sets and the sky begins to darken, your bush dining room comes alive. Lanterns light up the area beyond which is complete darkness. Sitting under a ceiling of stars, dinner is served while a bush campfire burns not far away. Frogs, crickets, nightjars, lions, hyenas and elephants are all part of the soundtrack. This is an experience of a lifetime, one that will most likely stand out as a highlight of your safari.
One of the highlights of Mweya Safari Lodge is the beautiful swimming pool adjacent to the restaurant. Its crystal blue water is inviting, especially on a hot day. The pool is a lovely place to stay cool in the heat of the African sun while enjoying the view over the Kazinga Channel. Snacks and ice cream are also available at the Kazinga Pool bar. Next to the pool a wooden deck with chaise loungers and large patio umbrellas make for a nice place to laze around.
Mweya Safari Lodge has a gift shop near the lobby that is open daily. It offers local crafts and curios for sale alongside books, maps, jewelry, souvenir shirts and caps for you to commemorate your stay at the lodge. The gift shop also sells a few essentials in case you have run out or forgotten something.
Other facilities at Mweya Safari Lodge include a business center for those that need to tend to work while on the road. The centre offers a quiet atmosphere with internet access and computer facilities. If you’re looking for somewhere unique to host a workshop or conference, the lodge has amenities including a fully equipped conference room. The health club and spa is a quiet place to get your daily dose of exercise. If you are wanting a little pampering, they offer massage as well as other beauty treatments.
The most popular activity in Queen Elizabeth National Park is the boat launch trip and it is certainly not to be missed! Mweya Safari Lodge runs boat trips up the Kazinga Channel three times per day. The first trip departs from the dock below the lodge on the Kazinga Channel at 11am. The second is an early afternoon trip departing at 2pm and the last is a late afternoon cruise departing at 4:15pm and returning back as the sun is dipping low in the sky over Lake Edward. The prolific bird life along the channel is always impressive, along with crocodile, hippo, buffalo and elephant that are generally seen along the shore. The lodge has three boats, that accommodate different numbers of people and offer different drink and canape packages that can be booked at the reception of the lodge.
Recently, Mweya Safari Lodge has introduced hot air ballooning which offers visitors a whole new way to experience their safari. In partnership with Balloon Tours Uganda, (www.ugandaballoonsafari.com) balloon flights lift off just before sunrise over the savannah grasslands of the Kasenyi area of Queen Elizabeth National Park. Quietly drifting over the Kasenyi plains you will be treated to a beautiful sunrise and the start of a new day in Africa. It’s an incredible experience. Upon landing, the lodge serves up a delectable bush breakfast to conclude your balloon safari. Information and bookings can be made through Mweya Safari Lodge.
Mweya Safari Lodge is a popular choice among many travelers. The location of the lodge is unbeatable as it is inside the park and boasts incredible views. The staff at the lodge are helpful, friendly and strive to make every aspect of your stay an enjoyable one. If you enjoy comfort, ambience and outstanding views, then Mweya Safari Lodge should be your choice for your safari in Queen Elizabeth National Park.