Kimbla Mantana Tented Luxury Camp: A Haven In The Wild
Kimbla Mantana Tented Luxury Camp is right inside Lake Mburo National Park and affords a proximity with the wildlife that is invigorating while still managing to feel removed from all the stresses of daily life.
Lake Mburo National Park is a four to five hour drive from Kampala and the ride is comfortable and picturesque through various kinds of Ugandan countryside. The drive from the main road to the camp is also a track through the park. There is no better welcome than a zeal of zebras crossing the road a few metres in front of your car and all around you are various bucks, topi, kobs and all kinds of bird life. The lodge has it’s own Land Rover that can be used to transport people to and from the camp.
Our driver, “Smarts” was ebullient, chatty and very knowledgeable of the park and the company. He was also very very proud of his car. I’m sure our photographer can attest especially with the the more than a few photos he has of the proud driver flanked by the car. You can also drive yourself as the drive is short and easy on mostly tarmac roads. On arrival, you are greeted with a glass of juice and a hot wet towel to wash off the dust of the journey. You are then showed to your rooms where they acquaint you with how a few things work. After, that you are invited to the main living area where you can spend a lot of time just enjoying being at one with nature.
The Main Living Area
The main living/dining area was my absolute favourite part of the whole experience. I’m a voracious reader and the area by the fire was made for those of our ilk. Furnished with wing tip chairs that are perfect for reading arranged around the brick fireplace, the area also has bookshelves filled with all kinds of books. Travel, fiction, non-fiction, magazines on Uganda, East Africa and Africa. It is the perfect place to end a long day of travelling or game watching. This reading nook is not the only thing in the shared space. There are also long comfortable couches set up so you can watch the sun set over the plains. My colleagues spent a good amount of time lying on these couches debating the merits of tearing themselves away from Instagramming the experience using the satellite Wi-Fi the camp provides.
The décor is rustic, old countryside chic with carved wooden chests, tables inlaid with coffee and beans under a glass top, wooden sculptures, painting in simple un-ostentatious framing, mirrors with carved wooden frames and even a functioning telescope through which you can see the wildlife in the park and do some bird spotting with.
This main area also has the dining tables that sit between four and six people and are set on the lower level of the wooden floor that covers the living area. The dining tables afford a great view of the national park in the distance and all the fleeting birds that surround the camp during the day are more immediate in the foreground. Breakfast or lunch to the soundtrack of bird song and silence is definitely worth the experience.
The nine tents are all laid out the same. A room is made out of two tents connected under a semi-permanent structure. You walk up to the room on to a wooden verandah with wooden camping chairs and a table set up. This area is particularly nice to have breakfast on and watch the sunrise. The verandah leads to the first room which is the bedroom tent that is lined with a mosquito net as big as the room itself. The rooms are beautifully decorated and it’s clear that a lot of attention was paid to the detail. From the wooden side tables with a rope inlay top, to the horns used as handles for the drawers, everything is a treat to the eyes.
The beds are incredibly comfortable and extra blankets are provided for chilly nights. The bedroom leads into a sort of anteroom that divides the two connected tents. This room has a wash sink with hot and cold water provided in a flask and clay jug as well as a cupboard for storage. Now, let me tell you about the shower. When you’re ready for a shower, you tell the very helpful staff who fill a tank outside your tent and with the help of a pulley system and ingenious plumbing, you step into the shower, turn it on and have a lovely hot shower. The mechanics of it were so interesting to me, the provision of modern amenities while still maintaining the integrity of the ecosystem is one of the best things about the Mantana Camp.
Lake Mburo has a very interesting mythical origin story. The myth goes that two brothers, Kigarama and Mburo lived in the valley where the lake is now. One night, Kigarama dreams that they are mortal danger. In the morning, he tells his brother, Mburo, about his dream which he believed to be prophetic. When Mburo doesn’t believe him, Kigarama leaves him in the valley and moves away to the hills surrounding the lake. The next day, the valley floods forming the lake and drowning Mburo. The lake has since been called Mburo and the hills Kigarama.
This story was told to us by Japan, our tour guide.
Lake Mburo National Park is the smallest Savannah National Park in Uganda, part of this is because of increasing human settlement given its proximity to urban areas.
However, while seated atop the hill that Mantana tented camp rests upon, it is hard to believe it is small because my eyes were able to see far off only blocked by the hills on the other side. I was able to see herds of Buffalo resting under cloud shade in the marshes.
The game drive and boat cruise
There was a lot to see on our drive to get on the boat cruise. Having headed out after lunch, we came across numerous eland, one or two quick and camera shy bush bucks, some majestic and velvet furred water bucks plus beautiful herds of zebra. These animals are very gorgeous, much more in person than off the pages of a magazine or the screen of a television. It was like we were in a farm of amazing wildlife with the frequency of which we were finding large herds of zebras, elands and buffaloes.
On the boat cruise, I got to see weaver birds and kingfishers, lots of them. However, the more exciting bird life was the one whose names are commonplace to birders of which I am merely starting to be. Birds with yellow chests, blue feet, orange beaks and most in varying arrangement. Our co-passengers were seemingly more versed with and I noted that some had birding guides to help identify which were which. Lake Mburo is very good for birders.
We saw, and were also frightened by one huge crocodile that we found resting on the banks. It lay there possum-like and we jettied closer to catch a clearer glimpse of its scaly skin. We were getting comfortable when it suddenly got up and rushed into the water as though it was ready to pounce like in those scary movies.
After having a laugh at the scare, we met an old and lonely buffalo also on the banks.
It most likely was removed from its herd by younger buffaloes and had been exiled here to die. Quite sad the animal kingdom can be sometimes.
Mantana Tented Camp is the only camp in Lake Mburo National Park and is operated by Kimbla Mantana African Safaris. I would recommend it to anyone needing a soothing date with the quiet country. The wildlife, the Lake, the tents and the great meals make for a beautiful experience.
To learn more about Kimbla Mantana Tented Camp Visit
Plot 39A / P.O Box 11060
Entebbe Berkeley Rd, Entebbe,
+256 (0)414 321552