Kipling Lodge: Redefining The Bare Necessities

By Malcolm Bigyemano

July 25, 2016

You would be forgiven for assuming the Kipling Lodge in Kangulumira just outside of Jinja was yet another safari getaway named after a British explorer, or colonial figure for two reasons: 1, Because many a tourist destination in Uganda romanticises European exploration and colonisation, and 2, because it is 2016 and the movie is always more popular than the book. What are we talking about? The Jungle Book. More people have watched the 1967 animated classic or the recent reboot than have read the book it is based on by Rudyard Kipling. Full disclosure: we haven’t either. But we had the pleasure of staying at the Kipling Lodge on the weekend it opened its doors to the public and as always, we are here to pass on the FOMO.

Central to it all, is a high-roof, open air structure that accommodates the dining area, bar and kitchen; with a cozy mezzanine* upstairs overlooking the swimming pool, which in turn overlooks the river.

It is an unforgettable scene (especially in this year of Harambe the gorilla);

a scrawny little boy perched on the rotund belly of a grizzly bear as it gently floats down the jungle river singing about “the simple bare necessities of life” brought to mind as you watch the majestic Nile flow past. The entire lodge is designed with a line of creme grass thatched cottages all looking out onto the breathtakingly expansive river snaking its way downstream.


There are five cottages for accommodation, named: Simba, Gorilla, Pundamilla, Tembo and Tumbili, two of which are deluxe and three of which are standard. A banana fibre rope cordons off the wooden deck that serves as the verandah leading into the rooms. The interior is a simplistic combination of white netting, linen beddings and upholstery accented with African patterns laid out on rustic wooden furniture made on site. The bathrooms take the rustic aesthetic even further with smooth grey cement walls and floors matching grey pebbles in the shower floor contrasting with exposed red brick on one wall and the omnipresence of white in the towels and other accessories. One gets a sense that the simplicity in decor and amenities serves to avoid the pitfalls of resorts or lodges that are so fancy they obstruct the rough-around-the-edges charm of the wild.


The beauty of the wild is celebrated in the photography that adorns a wall in each of the rooms with monochromatic prints of the animals in their natural habitat. Alexandre Van Enst, who owns the Kipling Lodge with his partners Christian, Francis and Thomas, happens to be a photographer who has worked for many years in the Democratic Republic of Congo. All over the lodge are large framed photos of scenes from Kinshasa depicting beauty, boldness, and style amongst urban decay. The Congolese influence is also visible in many old, precious, masks and sculptures on the walls, in corners and watching motionlessly from the mezzanine which is decorated with plush arm chairs, antique trunks, hand-crafted kilim cushions, rugs and thick papyrus mats woven in Kisoro. All these elements are combined and balanced to curate a space that is beautiful, thematically consistent and full of stories without being cluttered.

One, however, can not eat ambience.

We heard about the food before we saw it, were impressed before we tasted it and could not get enough once we had sampled it. On a piece of wood we were served rolls of sushi, each with a translucent rubber pipette which looks like the pump of an old school fountain pen full of soy sauce sticking up into the air. These were followed up by Lobster Creme-brulee, which has a light jelly-like consistency and boasts of a pungent taste of the sea balanced with the sweet nuttiness of dessicated coconuts, served on large flat-bottomed ceramic spoons. The balance of sweet and fishy is kept consistent with salad cones which were miniature black ice cream cones filled with a combination of smoked tilapia and mango. To wash these down, the bar whipped up a variety of interesting cocktails, including a rosemary, black pepper, tequila, and tonic mix that also made us repeat “Rosemary?” just to be sure we heard right.

What are the bare necessities of life? One would assume it means giving up the comforts of modern life, and they would not be wrong, but The Kipling Lodge redefines that. A trip out of town takes away from the stresses and demands of an ever-connected world, enabling one to switch off and forget about their worries and their strife.

*Mezzanine: A storey installed between the ground floor and high ceiling, accessed by steps or a ladder.

You can find Kipling Lodge in Kangulumira Jinja
Email :
Phone : 256 (0) 794 02 03 42

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3 Reviews

  1. K says:

    “the sweet nuttiness of desecrated coconuts”

    Good review, but the word you are looking for here is desiccated, not desecrated

  2. Vickie says:

    I like the ‘one however cannot eat ambiance’ before you switched to speaking of the food. I love this review and the lodge is so damn beautiful!

    • Pearl Guide says:

      Vickie, thanks for passing by 🙂 Surely one cannot eat ambience!! Hehe. Plan to visit! You’ll love it!

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