If the Uganda Tourist Board had only one picture of one vista with which to convince people to come to the country – it should be the view from the front door of Katara Lodge.
Stepping through that door you are instantly rewarded with the majestic savannah of Queen Elizabeth National Park spread out before you. Located on the Kichwamba escarpment the view goes on for miles all the way to the imposing Rwenzori Mountains on the horizon. vantage point of the Kichwamba escarpment, the view goes on for miles, with the imposing Rwenzoris as a border.
The lodge itself is situated half an hour’s drive from Fort Portal, heading south from the main park entrance. This means that there’s no need to pay the park entry fees just to stay in the lodge. And, thanks to recent rehabilitation of the roads leading to the lodge, it is now easily passable in both the wet and dry seasons.
With such an unparalled view, the lodge itself would not need anything special for you to want to stay forever admiring the view from the lounge area. However, the accommodation is almost as impressive as the view.
Arranged as seven self-contained bandas, the accommodation has unique touches such as the Katara “star bed” which is a bed on wheels which can be wheeled out onto the banda’s deck for a romantic night under the stars – complete with mosquito net. (Although perhaps the experience should be reserved for the dry season!)
The claw-footed, free-standing baths might be Uganda’s most decadent bathing experience as from your vantage point you can watch herds of elephants meander the plains below. An exciting recent addition is an equally luxurious infinity pool atop the escarpment which definitely competes with the view from the lodge itself and rivals the view from any other pool in the country.
The staff contribute to making the stay a special one and nothing is too much trouble for them – including bringing coffee to your room at 5am to help you get up for that dawn game drive. In spite of the difficulty in getting ingredients to what feels like the top of the world, the food is extremely good, and although it is a set menu each day, there is enough choice not to feel like you are eating the same meal each day. One typical meal included a seasonal vegetable soup to start, followed by a chicken main course and local honey and fruit for dessert. A full breakfast is served after a morning game drive, and lunch can be packed to take advantage of the afternoon boat trip.
Give it a try if you want a night under the stars overlooking the savannah, weather permitted!
Give it a miss if you want no-frills budget accommodation within Queen Elizabeth National Park.