The Observatory: As Picturesque As It Is Serene

By Darlyne Komukama

April 27, 2015

Built into a hillside overlooking the Queen Elizabeth National Park but just its boundaries, The Observatory allows you to enjoy all the park perks without having to pay the park fees every day, fees you would have had to pay on even days when you feel like staying in and enjoying a good book on the balcony where, in between chapters, you can watch herds of elephants cross the plains right in front of you.

This one of a kind holiday home has been operational since 2011 and is the perfect place for a family holiday, a lovers’ hideaway or a friends’ getaway. This lovely double storeyed house feels just like a home, down to the little knick knacks stowed all over every room giving it the feeling of being lived in, giving you the feeling that you’re only coming back home and not visiting a whole new place.

The vases filled with flowers picked from the garden outside, board games (including Scrabble, Chess/Checkers, Connect 4, Dominoes), books filling the bookshelves and a squared away TV and DVD collection for those stormy nights when you just want to curl up on the sofa and watch a movie with some popcorn and a glass of wine, all add to this comfortable familiar feeling.

If it isn’t already evident, The Observatory isn’t your typical lodge or hotel. It’s a home, one furnished with love but one that is also functional and it must be because it’s very flexible.

Do you want to bring your own supplies and use the kitchen to prepare your own meals? You can. The House Manager will leave you to your privacy but always be a few metres away to help you with whatever you might need. Do you want to bring your own supplies but have someone make the meals for you? This is also entirely possible by bringing over the private chef to whip up your ingredients into a delicious meal. Do you want to simply go and be catered to? This is also possible.

Observatory gallery 12Whatever you decide, you won’t have to worry about anything getting mixed up as once you pay the $80 a night per adult or $55 a night for children, you won’t have to worry about sharing that space with anyone else. Essentially, for $80 a night, you can have your own haven away from all of life’s daily stresses. A literal home away from home.

Constructed in the most eco-friendly manner from stones and reclaimed wood, the house fits right into its surroundings and can easily be missed on the hillside when looked upon from the road into the Queen Elizabeth National Park. The first floor has a lovely balcony wrapping around the front and the side. The front doubles as an outside living area with comfortable couches, a low coffee table and a view of the national park. The side has an outside dining area for those days that just too beautiful for any minute to be spent inside. From here, you can also see a part of the park.

Walking in from the balcony, you are greeted by an open plan dining area and kitchen only separated by a counter that can also be used to have a quick breakfast on especially if your party is small. To the left of this two bedrooms, one twin and one double and also, the downstairs bathroom. The attention to detail is striking on the first floor. From a kitchen stocked with virtually everything you’ll need to make that perfect meal to the simple touches like a wooden sign proclaiming, “These boots were made for walking” placed jauntily next to the row of Wellingtons (gum boots) that are provided for guests wanting to venture out on a nature or village walk.

The second floor is accessed by a set of wooden stairs that look like they can be pulled into the floor to separate the floors. At the top of the staircase, looking out, you see a clear view of the park from the balcony. But before we get to the balcony, on the left and right are two rooms with a bunk bed each in them and also the upstairs bathroom. Both bathrooms are equipped with hot water that is boiled with a solar heater and incredible water pressure in the shower head.

Observatory gallery 10The rest of the open plan space is taken up by an office desk with an office chair, for those on a working holiday, to the left and a living area with sofas and huge throw cushions for the floor all around a low coffee table. This space is perfect for hanging out playing some of the board games on offer, lying on the couch and reading or even just watching a movie to end the day. We played as many card games as we could remember and learned a few new ones from each other.. The upstairs also has a small kitchenette so you don’t always have to go downstairs to get something to eat or drink. The balcony on the second floor might have been my favourite bit. With a jacuzzi in one corner, a massage table in the other and a few chairs set around an actual telescope, this was the area I’d spend all my time in while at The Observatory.

The most magical thing about The Observatory, though, must be the incredible view of the sunset. With nothing to obstruct it, the sky around the sun cycles through all the shades of colour on the warm end of the spectrum.

Going from blue to pink to orange to purple to black, watching the sunset is like watching the craziest surrealist painting only live.

The Observatory also happens to be built on the edge of a cliff making it perfect for kite flying which I did because among the homely knick knacks is a functional kite. After getting it out in the open, the kite finally got up in the air and danced around wildly and amusingly enough to keep us entertained for a long while. Nothing like flying a kite to make you feel alive again.

Observatory gallery 3In keeping with the eco-friendly theme, The Observatory is powered entirely by solar with a back-up generator. We didn’t have cause to use the generator the whole time we were there as the solar inverter stores enough energy to run all the house appliances except for the jacuzzi. The hot water in the bathrooms is heated with a solar boiler. You can see that a lot of care has gone into constructing and maintaining this home both for the visitor and for the environment. The decorative flowers aren’t the only useful things that grow in the garden, the fresh herbs available for cooking your meals as well as the coffee beans that turn into your cup of morning joe all are hand-picked from the garden.

Everything comes together in exactly the right order and right amount to make this the perfect holiday home. Put it on your list and let us know what you think when you do visit.


For bookings, contact Geolodges Africa: +256-(0)414-258-273 and

The Observatory is located in Bushenyi on the boundary of Queen Elizabeth National Park.

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