Livin la Vida Uganda Over the Holidays

Uganda, the Pearl of Africa, the home of the Silverback Gorillas and the Shoebill Storks, of the hustling bustling Kampala, and the tea fields of Fort Portal, whatever you are craving, you can’t go wrong spending your holidays in Uganda with friends and family.  To help get you started as you plan your Ugandan staycation, here are some helpful accommodation and restaurant tips to set your sails on course.

In Kampala

Le-petite Village Boutique Hotel,

If you are looking for a Vibrant lifestyle hotel, close to the city then Le-Petite Village Hotel is the place for you. located in Nsambya Kampala, neighbouring the USA embassy. This luxury Hotel Boutique has recently been refurbished and upgraded to the highest standard, representing stylish, elegant, comfortable, simplicity, from the art on the walls, crafty wooden decoration, the clear fresh air, you might forget where you’re, because of how exclusive the Hotel is. Le-Petite Village is a family initiative, we have seen how they blew our minds with La-Chateau fine Dining, they always go out of their way and plan for spaces to provide guests with beauty and comfort. This Christmas, they will have a wide Christmas Brunch, Lots of Pastries at their onsite bakery in case you would like a customised cake. So much fun awaits you!

Marasa Africa

If you’re planning your visit to any of the National Parks, drop by Marasa Central office on 5th Street Industrial area, it has solutions for your visit whether you’re out for the Big 5s at Queen Elizabeth, Mweya lodge awaits you, you can stare closely at the wild by your cottage, or you want to go Fishing at Murchison Falls National Park, you can rest at Chobe Lodge, Or you’re visiting far south for Gorillas at Bwindi impenetrable National Park, you can stay at Silver Back lodge, located closely to the park and surrounded with views of valleys, in between Forests, you wake up to Birds singing by your deck in the morning. Up North there is Para Lodge by the banks of River Nile. Marasa Africa, has served as one of the most ancient but yet golden luxury 5star lodges. How easy is that, your Safari all planned out. 

Fairway Hotel

Fairway Hotel was born in 1969 as one of Uganda’s first hotels, it is the home of Kampala’s swankiest new pool bar and the never disappointing Asian Fusion. Fairway Hotel is perfectly located to provide you access to the streets of Kampala and tucked away so that you feel like you are in a garden sanctuary. I would recommend having a meal at the pool side restaurant Los Amigos in the daytime, or at Asian Fusion in the evening.  Every Wednesday at 6pm in the Food Parq by the pool, one can also enjoy a beautiful Ugandan Cultural Show for 170K for beers and unlimited Ugandan Food. Enjoy a Wednesday evening here for a taste of true Ugandan culture.


Izumi is a favourite of expats and local Ugandans alike. The space is brilliant for holiday parties, as there are enough nooks where you can enjoy privacy while still being part of the festive buzz. Izumi boasts creative and tasty cocktails, which they will surely be dressing up for the holidays, these paired with unique appetisers and hearty soul warming mains make for the perfect office party or family dinner venue. Over the holiday season, there will be a number of offers available, however it is recommended to book in advance to avoid disappointment and guarantee table size accommodation.  Recommended menu items from me are the: Mock duck, the jalapeno tuna sushi, the black pepper fish and the Thai Green Curry. However, I truly believe when ordering at Izumi, you cannot go wrong with your choices. 

Kampala Serena Hotel

The Kampala Serena Hotel is an oasis of cool and green, with a secure environment ideally located in an excellent location in the heart of Kampala. The Serena brand is most well known for it’s excellent service delivery and hospitality along with it’s unique approach to drawing from it’s local surroundings.  If you arrive at the Serena, you’ll find structures made from local materials, uniforms reflecting the local culture, and food on offer that draws from the nation’s finest ingredients. The Serena is offering staycation rates and holiday party facilities, along with a gorgeous venue for a spa and swim day.

Lake Victoria Serena Hotel

is offering the following holiday spa special at their Maisha Spa: book for a hot stone massage and get a tester facial free, or book for a deep cleansing facial and get a foot pressure massage for free. Finally, during the month of November and December if you buy any beauty product, you will get a 30 min massage free.  

Jinja and The River Nile

Bushbaby lodge

Bushbaby Lodge, home to 130 species and the most stunning Nilefront view, is located within a private family-run farm including an on-property old-growth forest. Guests can book a 1 hour forest walk with a camp guide. Or take a short drive to Ssezibwa Falls, a Buganda cultural landmark located nearby. There is plenty of space to roam, farm animals to see, and even a play structure with swing set, sand pit, and sitting pool for the little ones to enjoy. The road to get to Bushbaby is very good and makes for the perfect 1-2 night escape from Kampala. The price to stay here is $80 USD a night.

The Hangout: 

The Hangout is Jinja’s first Food Court style restaurant! It consists of 10 different restaurants and a coffee shop inside an old Volkswagen trailer that you have to see!  There’s something for everyone here, from Japanese, to Mexican to the classic Ugandan Rolex, this is the place to go if you are in a large group and want to cater to everyone’s tastes

The Deli

The Deli is a small cute café on the main strip of Jinja, located next to some fabulous tourist handicraft shops. Their breakfast portions are really big and tasty and the ice cream is handmade and scrumptious. There are lots of vegetarian and kid-friendly options too, all at affordable prices. If your only visiting kampala for a short time, the deli also boasts a beautiful African craft section with handmade crafts and textiles and wines and snacks for takeaway. With both indoor and outdoor seating, you and your family and friends can not say you’ve been to Jinja until you’ve been to the Deli!

Nile Horseback Safaris

Young or old, expat or local, there is nothing more liberating than sitting on horseback, trotting along the coast of the Nile, and the farmlands of jinja. For a unique perspective of Jinja, check out Nile Horseback Safaris. They can accommodate riding groups with mixed levels of experience so that whether it’s your first or fiftieth ride, you will be able to enjoy your safari adventure. The safaris leave at 10am or 2pm, and cost $45-$65 dollars, depending on the length.

Mabamba Swamp (Mpigi District)

Nkima Lodge + Mabamba Swamp

The most ideal and convenient day out of Kampala for a Christmas lunch, or one night stay, is a night at Nkima Lodge. To paint a picture for you, if you leave Kampala for 7:30am, you arrive at Mabamba Swamp for 9am for a tour of the swamp and an opportunity to see the famous Shoebill Stork, which many say looks like a real-live dinosaur! As an added bonus, in June a Shoebill Stork in Mabamba gave birth to a baby for the first time in 2 decades, so there’s a bonus sighting on offer. After your two hour tour where you will find every bird under the Ugandan Sun, you can make your way to Nkima Lodge for a delicious 3 course meal at 40K a person ( excluding drinks and tip). These meals and the lodge will all be themed for the holidays, to help you get into your festive spirit. Over the holidays, if you eat lunch, you can swim at the lodge for free, do a hike, and then head back to Kampala… You’ll probably be  back at home for 3:30 or 4pm. The other option is to take advantage of the unique eco-lodge and the evening bushbaby sightings by staying over for one night. The staff is exceptional and hospitable and the food, especially the homemade bread, is to melt over!

Sambiya River Lodge

Sambiya River Lodge is a newly renovated midrange eco-lodge situated only 15 minutes from the top of the magnificent Murchison Falls.  The food is bespoke and the setting has a nostalgic feel yet modern in it’s offerings. The pool is exceptionally large and great for a morning or evening swim to shake off the national park heat.  Buffaloes and elephants frequent the lodge, and leopards, lions and cobs are found in the vicinity. The highlight of staying here is certainly the falls-view sundowners arranged by the lodge. Imagine a picnic at the mouth of one of the most powerful and picturesque waterfalls in the world. Can you say once in a lifetime?

Crater Lakes/Kibale Forest

Sven’s Cottage

Without a doubt, the single most picturesque escape from Kampala is Sven’s cottage located near Fort Portal at the crater lakes. It is the only accommodation at this particular crater lake, and it is secluded and stunning. There are hiking trails, beautiful birds, and it is truly an escape from the hustle and bustle of Kampala. Be prepared to cook your own food (camp style) over provided propane tanks, however the washing up will be done for you. The cottage sleeps 3-4 comfortably, and the bathroom is clean and modern. You have not enjoyed Uganda until you’ve spent at least one night at Sven’s Cottage. As an added bonus, it is very close to Kibale Forest, where you can Chimp Track with UWA.

Turaco Treetops

For a forest experience, located very close to Chimp Tracking, spend time at Turaco Treetops. For a unique experience in the forest with stunning views over the snowcapped Rwenzori Mountains, Turaco Treetops is the place to go to share tasty meals, laugh, read a book near the fire place, learn about nature, play a game, or take dip in their refreshing pool. Turaco is notoriously very family friendly, and books up early. Be sure to secure your pocket of paradise well in advance.

No matter where you choose to explore this holiday season, you’re destined to find out why Uganda is known as the Pearl of Africa. With friendly people, gorgeous flora and fauna, and an incredible selection of places to eat and stay – why go home this holiday season, when you’d be much better off hosting your friends and family!

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