Lodge Report: Buhoma Lodge and Ishasha Wilderness Camp

December 14, 2011

One of our TFH tour consultants, Joan Namulya, recently visited Buhoma Lodge, situated in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, and Ishasha Wilderness Camp, located on the banks of the Ntungwe River in the southern reaches of Queen Elizabeth National Park. This is her trip report.

Our safari group departed Kampala at 8.30am, travelling in two 7-seater Landcruisers. The group stopped off at various points in the journey so that we could stretch our legs and enjoy breakfast and lunch on the road. We had time for breakfast and a photo opportunity at the Equator markers, followed by a buffet lunch at the conveniently located Agip Motel in Mbarara. Finally, as we were climbing the hills towards Bwindi, we paused in Rukungiri district to enjoy the view of the river cascading below.

Room at Buhoma LodgeWe arrived at Buhoma Lodge in Bwindi Forest, home to half the world’s population of Mountain Gorillas. We were warmly welcomed with hot towels and a fresh juice, and then sat down to enjoy dinner. The food was incredible – the stuffed tomato starter was like heaven came down. In his briefing, Ken (the Lodge Manager) had told us “The building never makes the lodge…but the people in there do. If by people he meant their Chef, I wholeheartedly agree.

Buhoma Lodge, Bwindi

The highlight of the day for me was the way the staff created a great piece of drama and theatrics around one of our group, who was celebrating their birthday on this trip. Just before desert was served, the lights in the dining room went out and an African drum rang out from nowhere. People came from everywhere, emerging from the shadows, wearing Gorilla masks and singing Happy Birthday. Of course, our group were delighted – and we all joined in!

The next morning, though a bit of a bumpy ride, the drive to Ishasha Wilderness Camp was rewarding with great views of the meandering Ishasha River, surrounding tea plantations and cattle farms. The camp itself nestles in a patch of forest on the Ntungwe River, surrounded by birdlife and occasionally some slightly larger animals (Elephants and Hippo are regularly spotted  in the bend of the river).

New Tent at Ishasha Wilderness CampWe checked into our light and spacious safari-style tents, with great views of the river. The camp has recently completely renovated their rooms, constructing brand new tents that use clever design touches to maximize natural light, and provide comfortable sleeping and ablution facilities without impacting on the local environment. Their new flushing toilets are a special eco-friendly design, and are limited to only one litre of water per flush.

Elephant at IshashaOut in the park, we enjoyed some great wildlife spotting. Ishasha is famous for its tree-climbing Lions, but there is plenty of other game to view. We saw herds of Uganda Kob and the flighty Topi, large groups of Buffalo and Elephant, the occasional Warthog, and when we returned to our accommodation, we saw two Hippos wallowing in the river just by the camp. We also spotted many different bird species including Crested Crane, Vultures, Hammerkop, Malachite King Fisher, Francolin, Guineafowl and many more.

That evening was completely awesome – we sat by the camp fire with glasses of champagne and bar snacks on hand. Neil, the manager, entertained us with his hilarious stories the whole time. If he had continued talking, we would probably go on laughing all night. I never stopped wishing for life to go on and on this way.

Sadly the trip had to come to an end – so we eventually bid farewell to staff and Neil. On our way out of the park we spotted a Monitor Lizard. On our way back to Kampala we stopped at The Queen’s Pavilion in the central section of Queen Elizabeth National Park, with its beautiful views of lakes and craters, as well as distant sightings of plains game. We then proceeded back to our day jobs, via a lunch stop in Fort Portal, dreaming of campfires and stuffed tomatoes.

Posted by Anne-Marie Weeden

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