Papaya Lake Lodge: ‘Artisan but Discreetly Elegant’
By Hollie Manuel
Wow! Only one word can describe Papaya Lake Lodge.
For a couple who have travelled Africa but who did not previously know Uganda and who have certainly never built a lodge, Sebastian and Magdalena from Poland should be super-proud. Papaya Lodge is exquisite in every sense of the word, right down to the last detail. The woodwork, the homemade furniture, the sailor’s rope used for skirting boards, the bicycle sink in the mess toilet, the unpretentious bar and the décor and the photos that hang on the walls to the traditional art and the beads, the hand woven circle mats and the rope door-hangings, its all delightful.
The mess area with its front deck is exactly the place where you would wish to spend a morning relaxing. Truly, Magda’s art and Sebastian’s design have fused to create a small Garden of Eden for
adult and child alike.
Then there are the rooms, each on stilts with a view and a balcony complete with sun-beds, the inner sanctum cozily harboring a single and a king-sized bed, adorned beautifully to make you feel instantly at home. Every little detail has been thought of – spacious mosquito nets, bedside tables at the right height, comfy chairs, a hat/handbag stand and glassed balcony doors. All the wood used here is beautifully polished and sustainable eucalyptus wood. A ‘kuni boiler” fires up hot water for the locally-stoned bathrooms, which really leave little in the way of detail overlooked – did they really have a little raised shelf in the shower for us ladies to place a foot on as we shave our legs? I didn’t look but I am sure between Magda and her husband nothing has been forgotten.
And then, when you have spent as much time you want soaking up view, sun and atmosphere in your own quarters and have eaten a delicious meal in a truly wonderful dining room (we didn’t eat at Papaya but we met Opio, the head chef, and had a good look around the kitchen, with both promising food to match the location), you may choose from two further activities.
What do you do if you have bought a property that is split by a public road? Hedge the road off so that it becomes an avenue that creates an initial aura as you drive in and then put a beautiful, wooden foot bridge right over the top of road so that your walk to the hill-top swimming pool becomes an adventure in itself. Watch out for the slippery steps (they need to do something about that) as you climb up and over the road and up the steps to the pool. The pool has a 360 degree view over the surrounding area and its crater lakes that the Fort Portal region is so famous for. On a clear day the Mountains of the Moon stand proud and snow-capped at the edge of Uganda’s border, as they tower over the pages of your book as you recline on the sun-bench. There is still a need to re-forest this area and further landscape it but if the swimming pool does not take your fancy, then how about a dip in a crater lake?
Re-forested by another Polish resident of the area, monkeys have been drawn back and raptors including gymnogenes, sparrow hawks and falcons perch regally. There is a network of seven or more ‘nature walks’ that zig-zag away below the level of the eight rooms and one family cottage that is still being built. They all follow the contours down towards the crater-lake and all lead to an enormous, floating deck in front of a beautiful, lake-side bar. We were assured by Emma, the lodge’s northern Ugandan manageress, that the water is deep enough to dive into and that there are kayaks on their way so that the lake will be more accessible to explorers, adults and children alike.
It’s a steep climb up to the mess area but when you get there your only word will be……Wow!
Details: Just an hour by car out of Fort Portal and directly opposite the Ndali Lodge turn off, you will see the Papaya Lodge signpost leading to a spot just five minutes further on. In total the drive is 350km from Kampala which you should allow five hours for.
Papaya Lake Lodge has been three years in the building and was officially opened on the 1st of January 2015. There are eight en-suite rooms, each with a single and king-sized bed and a family cottage (double story) is soon to be finished. This will have three bedrooms, a living area with a fireplace and a verandah.
Papaya Lake Lodge is just 40 minutes drive from the UWA starting point for chimp tracking and there is a waterfall just an hours walk from Papaya Lake Lodge, if you want the exercise.