Uganda is one of Africa’s most underrated safari destinations. It is best known for its mountain gorillas, which can be tracked in Bwindi Impenetrable and Mgahinga Gorilla National Parks. Rather less publicized is the fact that Uganda’s biodiverse network of parks also offers excellent chimpanzee trekking and a decent chance of spotting all the Big Five. Other attractions include some of Africa’s most scenic mountains and lakes, and a checklist of more than 1,000 bird species.

As for where to stay in Uganda, the country is served by a diverse network of accommodation, ranging from campsites and backpacker lodges to five-star hotels and world-class safari lodges. Here, in alphabetical order, we introduce you to 10 of our favorite luxury Uganda safari lodges and Uganda safari camps.

 

Apoka Safari Lodge

Apoka Safari Lodge

Unquestionably the top safari lodge in northeast Uganda, Apoka stands on a rocky ridge overlooking a waterhole in Kidepo Valley National Park. Accommodation is in super-spacious chalets with canvas walls and private terraces, and there’s a wonderful natural rock swimming pool, as well as a shady thatched dining area with a view over the plains. Best of all, Apoka is the perfect base for exploring a remote and relatively little-known park where lions, elephants and buffalo are all likely to be seen on a daily basis.

Apoka Safari Lodge Tours

 

Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge

Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge

Resembling an Africanized version of a palatial Alpine ski chalet, Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge is the highest lodge in Uganda, perched at an altitude of around 2,100m/6,889ft on a forested ridge close to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park’s Nkuringo Gate. Eight cozy 80m2/860ft2 guest cottages each include a king-size bed, a spacious lounge complete with plump sofas and roaring log fire, and a stylish modern bathroom. There’s no finer base than Clouds for gorilla tracking in Bwindi’s remote southwest, and the views towards the volcanic Virungas – with active Nyiragongo glowing orange after dark – are truly stunning. Luxurious touches include a personal butler, a pampering foot massage after your gorilla trek, and superb cuisine complemented by a selection of imported wines.

Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge Tours

 

Kyaninga Lodge

Kyaninga Lodge

This luxury owner-managed property on the outskirts of Fort Portal boasts the most impressive architecture of any Uganda safari lodge. Built almost entirely from wood and thatch, it consists of eight spacious cottages spaced widely along a stilted wooden walkway on the forested rim of Kyaninga Crater Lake. The view across the lake towards the Rwenzori Mountains is sensational, there’s some great walking and canoeing on the property, and it’s one of the best places to stay in Uganda prior to chimpanzee trekking in nearby Kibale National Park.

Kyaninga Lodge Tours

 

Mihingo Lodge

Mihingo Lodge

Situated in a private wilderness area bordering Lake Mburo National Park, Mihingo is an exclusive family-owned lodge that stands out for possessing that elusive ‘wow’ factor. A dozen luxury tented chalets are scattered across a forested hill whose rocky summit offers wonderful views in all directions. There’s also a beautifully appointed open-sided dining area and a swimming pool set between the boulders. This is unquestionably the most luxurious Uganda safari lodge servicing Lake Mburo National Park. It has the added value of offering horseback and walking safaris, as well as night drives that come with a decent chance of spotting leopards.

Mihingo Lodge Tours

 

Mount Gahinga Lodge

Mount Gahinga Lodge

The standout luxury base for exploring Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, Mount Gahinga Lodge has a peerless setting below a trio of tall volcanic peaks belonging to the Virunga range bordering Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Under the same dynamic management since it first opened in 2002, the lodge comprises seven massive cottages that combine local Bafumbira stone architecture with modern comforts and excellent amenities. Being only five minutes’ walk from the main park entrance, Mount Gahinga Lodge is ideally positioned for gorilla tracking in Mgahinga, as well as other activities such as golden monkey trekking and day hikes to the Virunga peaks.

Mount Gahinga Lodge Tours

 

Mweya Safari Lodge

Mweya Safari Lodge

One of the most famous places to stay in Uganda, Mweya Safari Lodge boasts a commanding clifftop position on the Mweya Peninsula in Queen Elizabeth National Park. Overlooking a stretch of the Kazinga Channel that’s favored by thirsty buffalo and elephant herds, it offers perhaps the most reliable in-house wildlife viewing of any Uganda safari lodge. There’s also plentiful birdlife in the gardens, and on a clear day you can see the snowcapped peaks of the Rwenzori. With 54 rooms, it is not as intimate or exclusive as smaller Uganda safari camps, but the prime location and on-the-ball management ensure it remains a very popular choice on upmarket safaris.

Mweya Safari Lodge Tours

 

Paraa Safari Lodge

Paraa Safari Lodge

Among the oldest and largest of Uganda’s safari lodges, Paraa was constructed in 1959 on a slope overlooking the north bank of the Nile as it flows through Murchison Falls, the country’s largest national park. The 54-room lodge has undergone many facelifts since then, but it still enjoys a wonderful location – best appreciated from the large and inviting swimming pool. It has comfortable, well-equipped rooms and a restaurant decorated in colonial style. Logistically, Paraa is perfectly sited for boat trips to the base of Murchison Falls and game drives on the productive Delta Circuit.

Paraa Safari Lodge Tours

 

Primate Lodge Kibale

Primate Lodge Kibale

One of my very favorite Uganda safari lodges, Primate Lodge accommodates guests in luxurious stone and thatch cottages set in Kibale National Park, Uganda’s top chimpanzee trekking destination. The lodge is only five minutes’ walk from the main chimp trekking trailhead. Guest cottages are spaced out widely in an area of rainforest where you’re likely to see red-tailed monkey, black-and-white colobus and a wide variety of birds.

Primate Lodge Kibale Tours

 

Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp

Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp

Combining the feel of an exclusive safari camp with a gorgeous rainforest setting in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp is without doubt one of the best places to stay in Uganda. Accommodation is in eight large and stylish standing tents, each fitted with two queen-size beds and a private balcony set deep in the forest. There’s no more luxurious base from which to visit Uganda’s mountain gorillas, especially as it lies practically opposite the main tracking assembly point at Buhoma, Bwindi’s park headquarters. Wildlife viewing doesn’t stop when you get back to camp: forest birds include the dazzling great blue turaco, plenty of monkeys pass through on a daily basis, and it’s not unheard of for gorillas to wander across the lawn!

Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp Tours

 

Sipi River Lodge

Sipi River Lodge

Quality accommodation is thin on the ground in eastern Uganda, but Sipi River Lodge is a welcome exception. It stands in lushly wooded grounds on the slopes of Mt Elgon, an extinct volcano that ranks as Africa’s eighth-tallest massif at 4,321m/14,177ft. This is a great base for hiking in the fertile Elgon foothills and visiting a trio of pretty waterfalls that adorn the Sipi River. The main Sipi Falls is only a few minutes’ walk away, and the middle cascade actually stands in the grounds, within view of some of the cottages. With a cozy rustic feel that might be transplanted from the English countryside, this isn’t your average safari lodge, and the relatively high altitude ensures it enjoys a pleasant temperate climate.

Sipi River Lodge Tours

By Philip Briggs
South Africa ZA

Philip is an acclaimed travel writer and author of many guidebooks, including the Bradt guides to Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya and South Africa.

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