Out and About: Bush Baby Lodge, Mukono.

Bush Baby Lodge is a tranquil lodge located in Mukono, less than 2 hours out of Kampala.

It is the perfect place for a young family to chill out in a natural environment, surrounded by lots of trees, birdsong and fresh air.

Look at how big the grounds are. And are you even in Uganda if there are no banana trees everywhere? 😀

We visited Bush Baby lodge late last year and of all the places we have gone, I would not mind returning for another visit. Maybe because it reminded me of where I grew up.

I loved the vast grounds.

It is no fancy, sprawling resort, but it has many unique offerings. From guided activities for both kids and adults such as bike rides, horseback riding, birdwatching, painting for the kids, lots of kids and adults books to read in case you want to chill out and delicious, healthy, organic food, most of which is sourced from the farm the lodge is located on.

Yes, the lodge is located on a farm guys, complete with its own forest! Which you can walk through, with a guide of course. You can get to see some of the farm animals too. Cows, pigs, goats, donkeys, rabbits, sheep and chickens. And, the kids get a chance to milk the cows! So, if you are a pure urbanite whose kids need to know where milk comes from, this is the perfect place to get up close and candid with them.

The reception area.

We were there for three magical days and I did not want to leave.

There were some traditional dances too, as part of the festive season entertainment.

Sample this: You wake up to the most amazing weaver birdsong right outside your window, head to the dining area for a healthy breakfast spread that includes fresh milk, perfectly made to your preference organic eggs, freshly baked and warm bread, and lots of organic vegetables sides to have alongside your morning coffee or tea. They had some delicious roasted pumpkin cubes one morning, I had seconds and had to ask the chef for the recipe. Which he agreed to give me. Yippee! And lots of fresh fruit options too.

The indoor dining area.
Cute flowerpot.

After the filling breakfast, you can head down to take the kids horseback riding or the farm tour. Then the kids can enjoy themselves on the big playground that includes swings, slides or take one of the lodges’ bicycles for a short ride within the property.

There are also guided fun activities for the kids such as painting eggs, slip and slide water play, among others. As the kids do their thing, get your binoculars and try to see how many bird species you can sport on your own. The lodge has detailed books with pictures, on the birds and flora you can view around the property.

See the food station under the tree, and the kids busy painting eggs.

These activities made you all a bit hungry? No worries. Buffet lunch with healthy, delicious food offerings is set up outside under one of the large trees. You can have your pick of some nutritious soup, fresh vegetables side dishes and some rice or roast potatoes, downed with some freshly squeezed juice.

If you want to take it slow in the afternoon, you can pick a book from their varied selection and enjoy some quiet reading with your cup of coffee or tea, as the kids frolic about or go swimming (more like dipping) in the pool.

The kids’ play area.
More views of the grounds with the pool area in the distance.
There is a brick oven for make your own pizza nights.

Before you know it, it is dinner time. On one of the nights there we were led into the forest, to a large clearing where tables and food stations had been set up under the trees. Nothing beats a nightime barbecue dinner experience. And after dinner, we got to listen for bush babies as well as some woodland owls which are found on the property. This was such a wonderful and exciting experience for both the kids and adults present.

Dining in the dark.

After waiting and finally getting to see one of the owls, you can chill out by the large bonfire and tell each other scary stories or just catch up.

This is one of the areas with a fire pit where you can gather round a huge bonfire under starlight and catch up on some ghost tales.
Our family room was clean and big enough to fit the kids bunk bed in one corner.

One of the reasons I loved Bush baby lodge so much is the amount of activities the kids can get to do, that they may not get to enjoy if in an urban area. Getting muddy, running barefoot in the grass, wide open spaces to roll around in, the farm tour where they get to learn so much and have a practical experience while at it.

The kids got to milk the cows.

The lodge has awesome customer care too. The manager is present and easily available, the guides are all knowledgeable and patient and kind with the kids and also creative at coming up with simple but fun activities for the children.

This was one holiday I actually got to finish a novel from beginning to end; we were all fully occupied in fun and relaxing things to do, and to me that is what makes an awesome holiday experience.

For more information on the lodge, visit their site: https://staybushbaby.com

Out and About: Holland Park, Jinja.

Holland Park is a beautiful lodge located less than 10 km from Jinja town. It is on the western banks of the Nile and not too far from the main road.

It has both self catering accommodation as well as a restaurant that offers several meal options, as well as a beautiful pool the kids could not get enough of.

Swimming with a view. 😍

We visited there over the December break with our friends who had told us about it and guys, they did not lie. The place is really beautiful. They have expansive grounds, great views, well spaced out accommodation, and did I say a lot of space for the kids to run around in?

Look at that view of the Nile!

First thing you will notice is the place is so quiet and serene. Just what one needs for a perfect getaway from the city. They have a lot of friendly dogs on site which is great for dog lovers.

Made a new friend who didn’t want to smile for the camera.
Like the infinity effect of the pool.

We stayed at the stand alone house on one end of the property which was secluded, perfect to chill in and view the amazing sunrise if you manage to be up a bit early.

So pretty!
I couldn’t get enough of the views of the water.

The house we stayed in was perfect for two families or one large one. It was well furnished and comfortable though I loved spending time on the grass outside more than the inside.

The house we stayed in was really lovely!
And well furnished.

It was amazing to walk on the grass, lie down in cool weather or even read a book overlooking the beautiful Nile river. I honestly could not get enough of that view.

New pals.

The hotel also has a fire pit next to the pool and restaurant area which is great when one wants to relax after dinner.

There are not many activities on site in the hotel, but if you are a bird watcher, it’s a perfect place to spot quite a few species effortlessly, so do not leave your binoculars behind. Other than many weaver birds, bee eaters, turaccos, kingfishers and cormorants, we also spotted an Abyssinian hornbill.

An Abyssinian hornbill on the grounds.

There is a a horse riding facility next door, which the kids enjoyed. As well as quad biking, tubing and a waterslide leading to the Nile just a short a boat ride away. The hotel has a small landing bay and one can request for transport across, do activities then cross back to refresh and relax.

Their rates include breakfast which one has to select in advance. Then you can decide if you want to have lunch there or dinner. Their food options were not very varied, which I understand as it is not a big hotel, but the pricing is high for what is offered. I liked their pancakes, their Rolex option (I have posted what Rolex is here) and their creamy pumpkin soup was really good too. The only other meal the kids seemed to really enjoy is their pineapple fried rice which is loaded with chicken strips, cashew nuts, vegetable strips, and raisins.

However there were some downsides, from portion size to limited variety such as no cereal options for breakfast which I found a bit strange. Given that the hospitality industry has taken a severe beating due to Covid -19 regulations, they do seem to be trying after a long period of low to no business, but there were still a few issues that one would expect a hotel or restaurant to have resolved before reopening.

Stock up on your fruit and snacks if with the kids.

We had a lovely time there though. Relaxing in a quiet scenic place is my thing. 🤗

I managed to catch a glimpse of Santa when he came by on Christmas morning. I guess Rudolph was still in quarantine. 😜
Spot the spotted frog?
We got some guests too. Can you spot them?
Cheeky monkeys. At least they stayed out!
The restaurant, reception, fire pit and pool are located in the center of the property. Beautiful and secluded.
Beautiful reception area.
One can walk around or lounge on the big lounging chairs or beds scattered on the grounds.
Well kept grounds one can walk barefoot on.
Not a bad place to be with a good book.

Holland Park is a really beautiful place. A must to visit if you want a quiet, scenic place to relax and enjoy your get away from all the hustle and bustle of the city.

Leo’s Banana Bread.

My son loves bananas. If there is one fruit that this household can never get enough of, it is this.

He likes helping me out a lot in the kitchen too and has a keen interest in how food comes together. I was therefore not too surprised when he asked to be taught how to bake banana bread.

He can fry up a mean egg. Helps in shopping (safely), stirring and cleaning up; he is my little sous chef and I am always happy to have the extra help.

So here is his banana bread Version. We used self raising flour, grated chocolate, coconut oil and love. Lots of love to make this heavenly coconut scented banana and chocolate loaf.

It is moist, fluffy, aromatic and so delish!

To make it you will need:-

  • 11/2 cups self raising flour.
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil.
  • 1-1/2 cups of really ripe mashed banana.
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar.
  • 2 eggs.
  • 1/4 cup unflavoured yoghurt.
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract.
  • 1tsp ground cinnamon.
  • 1/4 cup chopped dark chocolate.

Method.

1.Mix the bananas, oil, egg, sugar and yoghurt together. Add in the vanilla and ground cinammon, then the flour. Fold in the chocolate last.

2. Pour into a greased or parchment lined loaf pan and bake in a preheated oven at 180 degrees Celsius for 35-40 minutes.

3. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, remove onto a rack to cool, and let rest 30 minutes before slicing.

The cake is moist, aromatic and so delicious, but not too sweet.

Perfect on its own, with some tea or hot chocolate, with some custard or vanilla ice cream.

It keeps well in a covered dish for a couple of days on the countertop, that is if you still have some leftover, which I doubt will happen.

Mmmh! looking at this image makes me crave it!

Homemade Potato Bhajia.

Potato Bhajia are a favorite snack in Kenya. Thinly sliced potatoes dipped in a spicy gram flour batter then deep fried till a bit crispy and golden ; Total potato perfection!

If you’ve lived in Nairobi, visiting the food court at Diamond Plaza is a must to sample the world famous “Maru Bhajia” from the stall by the same name. That is the only place whose bhajia I have faith in.

I am sure many of us who love their bhajias have tried to replicate it at home but can never quite get the exact taste. 😂

Doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try though right?

Let us get started.

Our ingredients are:-

  • 1 kg white potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced.
  • Oil to deep fry them in.
  • 1/4 tsp ground tumeric.
  • 1 tsp roasted cumin powder.
  • 1 tsp paprika.
  • Juice of 1 lemon.
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  • 1/2 cup of besan (chickpea aka gram or garam flour).
  • 1 heaped tablespoon rice flour
  • 1 bunch of finely chopped coriander.
  • A pinch of fenugreek leaves – optional.
  • small pinch of baking soda.

Method.

Peel, clean and slice your potatoes into thin rounds.

Soak them in salty waters for 15 minutes then drain.

In a a large bowl, add the potato slices, all the ground spices and herbs except the baking soda.

Add the flours and mix well.

Let the mixture stand for about 15 minutes, please do not add any water.

The potatoes will release their own water and the slices will get enough batter all round.

Heat your oil.

Add the baking soda just before frying. I got this tip from Fauzia’s Kitchen Fun blog.

Deep fry the potato slices on medium heat until cooked through, and turn golden.

To avoid them clumping together, add the slices to the oil individually.

Once ready, drain on kitchen towel to remove extra grease then serve with ketchup, chutney or chilli sauce.

They are a great snack to make as well as a fun weekend dinner with some roasted chicken or grilled meat and salads on the side.

They are crispy but fluffy inside, well cooked, well seasoned, delicious and you cannot get enough of them!

How do you like your potato bhajia?

Out and About: Entebbe Wildlife Sanctuary.

The Entebbe Wildlife Sanctuary, popularly know as the Entebbe Zoo, is one of the places one must visit when in Entebbe or Kampala.

It is located in Entebbe, but not that far from Kampala; about a hour’s drive, which makes it an excellent family outing option.

We have been there several times already, but this time round was more special to us as we had yet to see the two Bengal Tigers the zoo acquired sometime last year.

There is a lot to see at the zoo. From chimpanzees, to beautiful lions, cheetahs, giraffes, elephant, snakes, otters and even the elusive Shoebill stork, usually found at Mabamba Bay. I have already written about our visit there here.

There were a few changes we noticed while there. Obviously, there are standard Covid 19 prevention protocols to be observed, the zoo is now charging parking fees, and there is a small vehicle to drive those who do to want or are unable to walk around, (at a fee of course).

There is a big playground filled with different activities for children, a restaurant (that serves some awesome fish) and an area one can picnic at on the shores of Lake Victoria.

This time round though, we just wanted to see the animals. We began at the tiger enclosure. Such majestic creatures.

The lions, cheetah and leopard were all asleep though, I guess it was big cats nap time.

Can you spot the leopard?

They also have a caracal and a serval which I find so beautiful with its black spots, long neck and long legs which make it a great jumper.

The zoo has two rhinos too that are so good at minding their own business, just grazing peacefully.

The kids were fascinated by the tigers, the rhinos which we were lucky to get really close to, the chimpanzees as well as the otters.

It was also our first time to see the otters up close as most times they hide out in the water.

Other fascinating sections were the reptile section, with the snakes and crocodiles.

If you are an avid birdwatcher, you will be able to hear and spot a few birds in the trees as you walk around the zoo. We spotted other animals too that are not part of the captive ones such as vervet moneys frolicking in the trees and a monitor lizard.

How many monkeys can you spot?

There is a botanicals section too, that is very informative on indigenous plants and their healing properties. Sadly this time round the guide was not available and the garden looked a bit rundown but I was able to get a few photos and information. It is one of my favorite parts of the gardens as we get to learn how many plants and trees around us, including some we view as weeds, were actually used in olden times to heal and manage various diseases and disorders. Quite intriguing.

The zoo has many other animals, warthogs, giraffes, baboons, red tailed monkeys, crowned cranes, ostriches, buffalos, waterbucks, a zebra, elephant and many more.

Rothschild giraffes
Ostriches.

PS: I know there are people who do not like going to zoos as they do not want to see the animals in captivity. Well, for me, I see it is a learning opportunity. We get to see many animals and learn about them without having to travel to do so. Travelling to see animals in the wild is not within reach for many. Some of the animals are also rescued from the wild as they are at risk of being poached or endangered, so it is part of animal conservation efforts undertaken by those entrusted to care for them.

Many of the trees around the zoo had signs indicating their names, both local and scientific and if they are indigenous to the region or not.

Some also have installations around them to promote conservation and how to reuse plastics that are a menace to the environment.

These used water bottles are being used as planters for tree seedlings.
These tree base has been reinforced with used soda bottles in the concrete and plastic bottle caps on top.

We all enjoyed ourselves despite being a hot day and the place being quite busy than all the other times we have been there.

When you decide to visit the zoo, wear comfortable shoes and clothing, sunscreen, a hat and sunglasses will not hurt too as there is quite a bit of walking around to do to see the animals.

Definitely worth a visit.