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.

Out and About: Murchison Falls National Park.

Murchison Falls National Park, is one of Uganda’s largest and beautiful game parks. It was established in 1952 and gets its name from the majestic Murchison Falls found within the park.

The park is located in North West Uganda, it covers over 3,800 square km of abundant wildlife, grassland, forests, water features and birdlife to name just a few. This place is not short of attractions to amaze any one who visits.

Located on the Albert Nile, you experience Africa’s largest and longest river, get to hear and see the thundering roar of the World’s most powerful waterfall, and let it drench you. See hundreds of palm nut trees, brought via elephant dung years ago when the elephants began migrating back to the area. Spot giraffes in the savanna grassland, buffalos grazing, elephants headed to the water, lions basking after a successful hunt and feed, come across hyenas in the thickets, spot leopards in the trees, and little oribi antelopes grazing. Visit chimpanzees and enjoy a swim in a lodge as the baboons and warthogs watch on. Enjoy beautiful sunrise and sunset views as you listen to birdsong from the many birds in the area. To name just a few. It is an amazing place that is definitely worth a visit when one is in the Pearl of Africa.

These palms are all over the park, thanks to the elephants’ movement and love for the tasty fruit.

The park is managed by the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) and their rangers are the best guides when one visits. Murchison Falls N.P is not a one day visit, with so much to see, you can take at least a minimum of three days to be able to enjoy most of its attractions.

Once you head out of Kampala, the first attraction is the Karuma Falls on the Kampala Gulu highway that is on one of the park’s extreme ends. Because it is on a busy stretch of road with some hairpin turns, and due to security reasons, one may not stop on the side of the road, but you will see and hear the water roar, it is a sight to behold. Because of the rock formations and the direction /speed of the water flow, there is so much foam, crashing waves and huge roaring sound that will just amaze you and trust me, I am unable to describe what an incredible sight it is to behold. You will spot some baboons on the road side and various bird species as you head off the bridge over the Nile.

This is the “calm” side of the Karuma Falls.

There are several lodges and camping sights located around the park outskirts, as well as a rhino sanctuary, which is closed to visitors at the moment due to Covid pandemic. There are also a few lodges located right inside the park if you want the full bush experience. This entails baboons, warthogs and waterbucks grazing outside your room door, or hearing hyenas at night as they scavenge after a big cat’s kill. If your lodge overlooks the Albert Nile, you have an amazing view of the water, and hippos and crocs chilling as the other animals head for a drink of water. And if you are in a lodge near the Murchison Falls, you get to hear the water roaring down the whole time.

The must dos are an early morning game drive, you get to see the sun rise over the savanna, as the animals are still grazing and roaming around.

The other must dos are the trip to see the Falls. The top of the falls is just a boat and car trip away, and the bottom of the falls is a 2 hour boat trip, see why you need at least three days? You will only have time at the lodge to eat, sleep and maybe squeeze in a dip in the pool.

Night game drives are also possible, but we opted to do the morning ones. It took us 4 hours and we did not get to cover as much as the park as we wanted to, it is that vast.

We were however lucky to spot patas monkeys, giraffes, hyenas, buffalos, a lone leopard, warthogs, oribi antelopes, Jacksons’ hartebeests, lions, Abyssinian hornbills, elephants, side striped jackal, water bucks, bush bucks, guinea fowl, Ugandan Kob, harrier hawks, Abdim’s storks, grasshopper’s buzzard, palm nut vultures, lilac breasted roller, lapwings, sandpiper, monitor lizards, to name just a few.

How many oribi antelopes can you spot? They are small antelopes that are swift, gazelle like with small horns and a black tail, and apparently a delectable leopard treat.

Our early morning game drive began by a visit to some old ruins of the old Pakuba lodge, that is a known leopard lair, we did not spot any unfortunately but found some antelopes and waterbucks grazing in the vicinity. You will need a 4 wheel drive to manoeuvre some of the road trails due to the heavy rains, some trails and even bridges have been washed away. It was fun seeing who should spot what first. From a lone elephant grazing in the distance, a shy bush buck in a thicket, water bucks in the swampy areas to the birds, all with the sun rising beautifully in the distance.

We came across Abyssinian Hornbills, also known as “pedestrian birds” as they prefer staying on ground rather than the air, Jacksons’s Hartebeest, which I had never seen before, and our ranger guide informed us is quite the forgetful animal.

It is a large antelope with a beautiful golden brown hide and grey horns. They are many dotting the park. We spotted the Patas monkey that is a ground dwelling monkey native to the savanna and woodlands, and the fastest primate when running, going up to speeds of 55km per hour.

The Patas monkey.

Spot the leopard?

We also came across a leopard chilling out in a tree, coming up slowly till it sensed us and climbed down to the long grass and disappeared. Also came across a pride of lions with several cute cubs that were frolicking in the Savannah grassland, such a sight to behold. The ranger informed us they had been born during the lockdown so were not used to the vehicles yet, or human presence. Buffalos spot the landscape, as well Rothschild giraffes.

This calf was not more than three days old. Such a beautiful sight.

Unfortunately, this calf did not survive the day, thanks to a pack of hyenas hiding in a nearby thicket.

They were so well hidden, calculating and waiting for the perfect moment to strike and capture the giraffe calf.
It may look away now, but this hyena was part of the pack that descended on the poor giraffe calf.

As we drove on, we came to another thicket that had tracks leading to it, indicating a carcass had been drawn inside. We drove around the thicket and found this lioness resting after the heavy meal.

The lioness seemed quite unbothered by our presence, guess a heavy meal does take a toll and all she wanted to do was nap in the shade in peace.

Other animals spotted were warthogs grazing peacefully, different birds, buffalos and elephants.

There are earmarked places one can stop to use the restroom and view the Nile up close. This is where we got to see various bird such as African jacana, common sandpiper, lilac breasted roller, lapwings, storks, among others. A Nile monitor lizard and a school of hippos in the water.

Water bucks minding their own business.

The park’s main attraction however are the majestic Murchison Falls. Must do is a boat ride to the bottom of the falls. This takes about 2-3 hours on the calm waters. You will see African fish eagles, Nile crocodiles, many hippos various birdlife and animals headed to the water for a drink.

Such a beautiful sight.
These rock walls are covered by numerous tiny holes that are the kingfisher and bee eater birds’ tunnel nests.

The kingfisher and bee eaters’ tunnel nests are a sight to behold.

An African Fish Eagle.

Apparently years ago, one could get off the boat as you neared the bottom and hike to the top, but this is no longer possible. Heavy rains in recent years have seen water levels rise and the currents get stronger. There are many parts of the park that were accessible a few years ago but now under water.

You know you are nearing the falls when you see the water begin to get foamy and will even feel the boat rock with the heavy currents. Because of rising water levels, we could not get too close.

The visit to the top of the falls was my best experience. Seeing the water, rushing deep and roaring wild, it does something to you. To say the falls are amazing, magnificent and amazing to behold are an understatement to be honest. It is something you just have to experience, and soak in. We were lucky to be the only ones there with our guide and sitting there in silence just watching the water and listening to the thundering roar, is a magical experience.

There are steps you can climb to view the falls from the top and enjoy the water spray as well as a lovely full rainbow that is always there.

I did not want to leave!

The only thing we didn’t do is go to see the chimpanzees but that’s the perfect excuse for a return visit.

If you are in Uganda, and have not visited Murchison Falls, what are you waiting for?

If you are planning a visit to the region, spare a day or two, to experience the beautiful Murchison Falls National Park. It is worth it!

Flashback Friday.

Kampala and Uganda as a whole is not short of places to visit and have fun for both kids and adults.

Since we cannot move much at this time, here is a flashback Friday post of some of the places we have been so far. Not many but worth a visit.

For breakfast and brunch options, there are many restaurants to choose from and the best thing is food is not expensive here. The portions are also hearty at some places (Cafe Javas to be specific). I have never been able to finish a complete meal and they have great food and service.

Holy Crêpe is another great option for breakfast and brunch. Though portions are not as generous as CJ’s. It’s a nice option when you want to have a quiet chat with a friend or enjoy your coffee in a laid back environment.

Caffeserrie found at Acacia Mall is another place with great vibes and the food is also delicious and fresh. I really wish I had a photo of their blueberry cheese cake it is yummy!

Lunch options are endless, from the roadside kiosks called “Kafunda” to little hole in the wall joints that offer both traditional Uganda food as well as fast food options. Spectrum Restaurant is a must try in Kampala! From Matoke, Fish Luwombo, Chicken tikka curry, meatballs stew, beans and peas, traditional green vegetables, their roasted pork and goat; their buffet options are sight to behold and partake. Wear loose fitting clothes when you go there; your tummy will be grateful.

The Copper Chimney Restaurant is another great place to enjoy your naan bread and curry in a beautiful atmosphere – that is if you are lucky to be sitted facing the cricket pavilion, with a lovely breeze to boot. If you’re with the kids order the mixed grill meats platter and butter naan and let them enjoy! I’m getting hungry thinking about this!

Pizza and cocktails on your mind? Caffe Roma is the place. Don’t want to cook? Caffe Roma will come to your rescue. Their chicken pollo is one of their best selling pizza and worth a try with generous toppings.

Want to swim then take a walk and have a meal facing Lake Victoria? The Munyonyo Commonwealth resort is a must visit.

Take a stroll around the grounds and enjoy the sunset over the lake.
You can enjoy traditional dances from across Uganda performed at Munyonyo on some Sundays.

You can also take a drive to Entebbe and visit the Entebbe zoo. They also have a play area for kids and a small restaurant you can order meals from. The zoo also has a botanical garden and it was interesting to learn of trees and plants that can heal or help with easing epilepsy symptoms, dysentery, malaria, even STIS and fibroids and many more. They also sell seedlings of the herbs and some of the indigenous trees.

Don’t forget to say hey to the Chimps at the zoo; if you’re lucky you may find them trying to NOT share pineapples with each other which is quite a sight.

Craving some charcoal grilled fish or more pizza as you enjoy the lakeside breeze? You must try Goretti’s Beachside Pizzeria. But please note, you must book ahead and they do not accept card payments; cash is king. It is a must visit when in Entebbe. Period.

Can you finish that? Goretti’s makes the drive to Entebbe worth it.
You cannot access the beach from Goretti’s this is as close as you can get but still awesome!
This is Garuga Beach between Entebbe and Kampala. A hidden resort that is a great picnic site too.

I am now missing all this…