On a Friday afternoon with the sun scorching hot, we were a bit fatigued and hungry after the 3-hour drive from Kampala to Nakasongola. The ‘rolex’s’ and soft drinks Joshua and I had along the way have ‘vaporized’ from our stomachs. We were seated in the restaurant at the luxurious Amuka Safari Lodge, that’s neatly tucked away “in the heart of rhino territory” on Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary. The waiter asks if we’d like anything to drink. I beseech him to tell us rather when lunch will be ready? To which he replies “In a few minutes” “and what are we having for lunch?” I ask, “It’s always the chef’s decision” he replies. With a contented look on my face, I finally settle for a cold bottle of mineral water.
For those not familiar with Amuka Safari Lodge, it’s a luxurious Safari lodge that’s located in the center of Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary in Nakasongola District, a 3-hour drive from Kampala City. Construction of the lodge started in September 2010, the lodge now has 8 chalets with six standard chalets that have one double bedroom each, 4 chalets are deluxe chalets, each with one bedroom, a dressing room and en-suite bathroom. All chalets, cleverly built to be at one with nature, all complete with personal verandahs and safari chairs.
The main lodge consists of the restaurant and bar, walkways that lead to the bathrooms and the sun deck that also has a great swimming pool. Adjacent to the swimming pool is a newly constructed play-park for kids, bound to keep them busy while their parents can relax. The park even has boda-bodas made from old vehicle tires!
The outdoor kitchen is in view from the restaurant, creating a fusion of smells as the chefs are at work. Most of the main lodge was handcrafted using old, recovered mahogany beams and timber planks from a saw-mill abandoned in Budongo Forest nearly 30 years ago.
Yours truly decides it’s a bit hot in the restaurant, I suggest to Joshua that perhaps we should sit in the safari chairs under the huge umbrellas by the sun deck beside the swimming pool, as we wait for our lunch to be served. We are seated along the kitchen and we soon indulge in small talk with one of the two chefs in the kitchen when all of a sudden he yells, “Snake”.
You see, in the city when someone yells snake, two things are certain to happen; either people run for cover or they get clubs/ sticks to kill the crawling reptile but while you are at this safari lodge, when someone yells “snake!” you run towards it or ask where it is to catch a glimpse of it as if it’s a work of art.
With a look of disappointment on our faces, up in one of the trees near the restaurant was a small green grass snake, which we were told, is non-venomous.
Lunch was duly served and especially I, tucked away in the tasty wholesome meal, which included a refreshing desert. Satisfied and relaxed, Joshua and I decided it was time to go check out the chalets and look at where we were going to sleep. All chalets are clean, have Egyptian cotton beddings, are expanse and have exotic wooden décor with walk in showers that have solar hot water, flushing toilets and a dressing room. All the rooms have charging sockets and electricity 24hrs a day.
It was fast approaching 4pm and that called for indulging in the fun activities that awaited Joshua and I. We had it all planned out.
First up, we were going to track rhinos on foot at Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary. If you need to complete your ‘big five’ game checklist, Ziwa is the only place you can do that in Uganda. Amuka can offer a vehicle for hire and a well-trained guide who helps visitors understand more about the rhinos, their facts as well as the local botany, ‘general bush knowledge’, birds and animals seen on the savannah.
Bordering the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary is a 10km stretch of swamp called The Lugogo Wetlands Conservancy. Home to a multitude of animals and some rare birds, it provides a pristine place for bird lovers with unparalleled opportunities for bird viewing in Uganda. It is one of the few locations in Uganda where you can view the endangered and special Shoebill.
Amuka Safari Lodge also provides nature walks on which you can catch a glimpse of the various wildlife they share with the sanctuary for example Ugandan Kobs, Duiker, Bushbucks, Oribi, Vervet monkeys, waterbucks, reedbucks and if you are lucky you could catch a glimpse of leopard, Genet cats or porcupines.
Rates & Booking
The rates at Amuka Safari Lodge are charged per person in USD and an extra charge of 15% is added for a single occupation. Children between the ages of 4 to 12 receive a 50% discount while children below 4 years are free of charge. They have six packages running at the moment;
- Package No.1 inclusive of 1 night accommodation, dinner & breakfast costs $121 (deluxe chalet) & $104 (standard chalet).
- Package No.2 inclusive of 1 night accommodation, dinner & breakfast plus Rhino Trekking costs $165 (deluxe chalet) & $148 (standard chalet).
- Package No.3 inclusive of 1 night accommodation, dinner & breakfast plus Rhino Trekking & Shoebill Canoe Safari costs $187 (deluxe chalet) & $170 (standard chalet).
- Package No.4 inclusive of 2 nights’ accommodation, dinner & breakfast costs $220 (deluxe chalet) & $203 (standard chalet).
- Package No.5 inclusive of 2 nights’ accommodation, dinner & breakfast plus Rhino Trekking costs $264 (deluxe chalet) & $247 (standard chalet).
- Package No.6 inclusive of 2 nights’ accommodation, dinner & breakfast plus Rhino Trekking & Shoebill Canoe Safari costs $286 (deluxe chalet) & $269 (standard chalet).
Overall Amuka Safari Lodge is very convenient for persons that have a love and passion for nature, families looking for a relaxing environment in a private setting, makes for a convenient accommodation pit stop if you are on your way to or from Murchison Falls National Park and is a perfect weekend escape from the hustle and bustle of Kampala City.
Leave Kampala through Kawempe on the Gulu Highway
Stay on the Gulu Highway past Bombo, Wubelenzi, Luweero, Nakasongola, Mijeera. Mijeera is the last village before reaching Nakitoma where you will see Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary’s two rhino statues on the left side of the road. There are signboards 3km outside of Nakitoma from Kampala and Gulu sides indicating Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary’s turn off 3km ahead. Turn off the main road at the rhino statues. It is a 3km dirt road to the main gate. At the main gate, tell the ranger where you are heading, Amuka Lodge or Rhino Fund Reception. You can also ask the gate ranger for directions, alternatively there is a map at the main gate that you can take a look at.
From Gulu / Masindi
Travel on the Gulu Highway towards Kampala. After crossing the Kafu Junction you will pass through Kafu village, then continue for 6kms. The next village is Nakitoma where you will see Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary’s rhino statues on the right-hand side of the road. Turn the dirt road at the rhino statues and drive 3kms down the murram (dirt) road.
From Entebbe Airport
From the airport take the Entebbe-Kampala highway into Kampala (Approximately 1 hour drive) and then take the Masindi-Kampala Road North out of Kampala and continue on the Kampala – Gulu Road (Approximately 2 hour drive). Continue until nearly reaching the Kafu River bridge and 6kms before the bridge is a sign for Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary. Turn to your left and drive 3kms down the murram (dirt) road.
In case of any queries or inquiries, or if you want to make a reservation, you can contact Amuka Safari Lodge through the following contacts:
Mobile: +256 (0) 771 600 812