Byline: Malcolm Bigyemano
It is finally December and you know what that means…! Okay, fair enough, this is a December unlike any other, in a year unlike any other. The Coronavirus pandemic locked us up behind closed doors, shut down borders and saw many businesses close, but what has been just as remarkable is our collective will to regroup, adjust, and move on with our lives as much as possible. Yes, we are talking about SOPs. The Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities has put Standard Operating Procedures in place such as mandating that hotels, resorts and national parks implement frequent disinfection, provide rigorous temperature checks, plenty of sanitation stations, and facilitate social distancing by limiting capacity and numbers within indoor spaces as well as insisting on all guests wearing masks. With these measures in place, the holidays are still on schedule. Here are some new, some old, and some lesser known destinations for you to explore in Uganda this festive season. What are you in the mood for?
Latitude 0 Degrees – Kampala
For many, travel is not so much about the trip as it is about going somewhere different to kick back and be pampered. For those in Kampala, Latitude 0 Degrees provides just this, an oasis from the hustle and bustle of the city without having to leave the city. Situated on a hill in Makindye giving great views of Kampala and its outskirts, Latitude 0 Degrees gives one the experience of a cosmopolitan international hotel with a boutique touch. The Latitude Hotels are a group with outposts in Lusaka and Lilongwe that define themselves as havens from the clamor of the city while being heavily influenced by each city to create a universally pleasant and uniquely memorable experience at each of their hotels. This manifests in the decor which is sleek and modern, with wood and wicker accents and, pastel patterns punctuated with splashes of colour; and the locally inspired cuisine at the Latitude 0 Kitchen. This December they are offering a number of discounts; from $209 for the Diplomatic Suite with double occupancy that usually goes for $360, to $159 for a Standard Room with double occupancy that would usually be $310 and deals for everything in between. Get in touch with them for more details on these and other Christmas packages.
Victoria Forest Resort – Bugala Island
If an island vacation with afternoons spent on sandy beaches sipping a cool beverage is more of what you had in mind, Victoria Forest Resort may just be the place for you. From Nakiwogo dock in Entebbe you will set sail across Lake Victoria on either MV Vanessa or MV Kalangala to Bugala Island. The island boasts of a forest, prairie, and white beach front, providing diverse experiences in this paradise, from boat-rides to forest walks and quad-bike tours facilitated by the resort. Indulge yourself with a day at the spa with massages, steam baths, and a sauna available, followed by a dip in their pool and a meal at the beach side restaurant. This December Victoria Forest Resort will be introducing special festive menus, host performing musicians and putting on a firework display to spice up the end of the year. They are offering couples a UGX400,000 a night rate with full board until the 30th of December.
Aramaga Lodge – Fort Portal
Having gone viral this year with photos of pods that looked like they were floating in the air, Aramaga Lodge has already distinguished itself as one of Uganda’s most unique travel destinations. 10 kilometres out of Fort Portal City, Aramaga is a fully sustainable eco lodge made up of two restaurants, a swimming pool and six fully equipped, self-contained sleeping pods varying in size (from 2 – 4 people) overlooking the Great East African Rift Valley. In addition to their showers, each pod is fitted with a hot tub on the roof where meals and drinks can be served for complete privacy and relaxation in what is one of Uganda’s first adults-only establishments. The lodge’s restaurant boasts of reimagined local cuisine, with unique takes on familiar Ugandan culinary classics. Until February, they shall be offering a rate of $200 per night with limitless drinks, full board and access to all available facilities included. For guests who stay two nights or longer they also include community walks along the escarpments with amazing views of Semliki Wildlife Reserve, the Rwenzori Mountains, and the Congo Blue mountains, as well as a tour guide for your self-drive adventures around Fort Portal.
Kipling Lodge – Outside Jinja
An hour away from Jinja town, Kipling Lodge is a chic boutique resort over-looking the roaring River Nile. Comprising a range of private thatched adobe huts, a large, open communal and dining area constructed with locally sourced materials and a swimming pool; the Kipling innovatively combines rustic, earthy aesthetics with modern comfort and a gourmet menu inspired by local ingredients to create a unique and intimate vacation experience with an unbeatable view of the mighty Nile river. This festive season, they have a 50% discount for a second night, and a flat rate of between 50$ and 65$ per person/night on full-board for stays from 3 days and more, for a minimum of two people per room, depending on which room one occupies.
Buhoma Lodge – Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
Plunge into the great outdoors and live amongst the boughs and vines at Buhoma Lodge, an elaborate luxury tree-house complex in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, one of the world’s few remaining gorilla habitats. The lodge’s chic, wood-based rooms give you a chance to wake up amongst the trees and immerse yourself in one of Africa’s most dense and bio-diverse forests without sacrificing the amenities that come with a world class hotel experience. This festive season, they are offering rates of $175 per person per night (sharing) and $85 for children (5-12 years old) when sharing with an adult. These rates are full board (3 meals with local drinks) including special menus for Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
Twiga Safari Lodge – Murchison Falls
Perhaps the immersive national park experience you are looking for is less lush, dense, equatorial forest with a chance of gorillas, and more of an open plain with a mighty river and some of the big five of African wildlife. A stay at the Twiga Safari Lodge which is on the banks of the River Nile and adjacent to the Murchison Falls national park will give you just that. Made up of 8 elevated cottages built in a style that fuses local thatching and building techniques with tent construction and materials, as well as a well-stocked bar and restaurant serving continental meals. Twiga provides an experience that is luxurious without disassociating you from the nature that surrounds you. This festive season, a shared cottage (of up to 3 people) will cost $75 per person, while a single cottage (occupied by just one person) will cost $90.
MFNP Boats & Cruises
Ultimately, you may not be looking to sleep over anywhere other than home and would prefer a short trip with wonderful views, good food and drinks. MFNP Boats & Cruises provides this very experience with their cruises on either Lake Victoria or at the Murchison Falls National Park. Take the Entebbe Sunset Cruise for the EAR rate of $15 per adult and half-off for children of 5-15 years with a minimum of 2 people per trip, or the Murchison Falls Boat’s Delta Trip at the EAR rate of $32 for adults with half the price off for children of 5-15 years, with a minimum of 5 people per trip. A drink and a snack are included in the price of the trip, but a more elaborate meal or spread can be arranged before-hand at a slightly more elaborate price, depending on what you require.
All the above establishments are working in conjunction with the Ministry of Health’s Standard Operating Procedures to ensure your health and safety, but it is important that as we go out to enjoy the festive season, we do as much as possible to keep ourselves safe as well. Please be sure to wear a mask properly, sanitize regularly, limit the number of people we interact or travel with and maintain social distancing as much as is possible. If we are careful and responsible, we can still enjoy the wide range of experiences Uganda has to offer and celebrate having made it through this remarkable year with a few friends and loved ones.
Marasa Africa Celebrates with a Healthy Choice this Holiday Season
Ending 2020, a year of Corona 19, we see our guests not only frustrated at the lock down lifestyle they have become accustomed to for the past year but also taking even greater value in the time spent with loved ones when exploring our landmark lodges.
Marasa Africa values every guest and has launched Marasa Cares Health + Safety program, our program ensures every guest peace of mind when world health and safety standards are combined with luxury lodges along flowing African river boat excursions, game drives and we ensure that every guest room is sanitized with specific focus on high touch point areas. Every Guests chooses how they want their guests room cleaned, once per stay, once per day, or twice per day.
Our Marasa team of dedicated staff all take extra care around the lodges to make our guests feel comfortable but before they enter any guests’ areas, all Marasa Health & Safety promises are done including thermo testing, hand washing and sanitization. This Holiday Season has been difficult for all of us and we wanted to bring you all out to explore the wonderful wildlife and rivers of Uganda at our Lodges. Enquire about our Resident rates and promotions to get your dose of our safari wonderland, a treatment everyone needs.