“When I showed the Nile Safari Lodge project to large companies in Europe, they all told me the same thing: that I would never manage to build a lodge of this type in Uganda”. Nathalie smiles as she pronounces these words because, obviously, not only did she manage to make that paper dossier a reality, but what is now her luxury hotel in the heart of the Pearl of Africa – that is what everyone calls Uganda, and how right they are—exceeded all expectations. But all, all.
Because there is no doubt that when things are done from love, when there is a story behind it full of effort and decision, a dream fought to be fulfilled, everything is possible. And that is the case of this family business that she, along with her sister, has run since it opened its doors in 2019. Yes, three months before the Covid came to turn —or turn— our lives upside down and they almost had to give up.
It turns out that in the same place where what is now their “first baby”, as Nathalie al Nile Safari Lodge defines, stands today, there used to be another lodge with the same name where they used to stop often during their vacations. They were absolutely in love with the enclave, so when they found out that the former owner was thinking of selling the business, they did not hesitate for a second: this space in which so many memories had been harvested had to be for them.
CHECK-IN: THE EXPERIENCE BEGINS
Arriving at the Nile Safari Lodge is not what it is said to be, it is easy. To reach this kind of earthly paradise on the south bank of the Nile itself, the longest river in the world, you have to travel endless roads and dusty tracks for hours from Kampala, the capital: it is what the hidden gems have, which are the great effort award.
But, in addition, Nathalie and her family’s luxury lodge is located on the edge of Murchison Falls National Park, one of the most extraordinary national parks in the country. That is to say: the most fascinating wildlife develops day by day, second by second, in front of its guests.
A barrier marks the place where the guards are and welcomes you to this particular Eden. They are not only in charge of controlling the entry and exit of all vehicles, but also of sounding the drums that alert the arrival of new visitors. A little further on, when you get out of the car, the staff waits with refreshing towels, fruit juice, and the best of smiles.
And then comes the first contact with this oasis . Its letter of introduction is the incredible views of the Nile, which looks elegant at its feet, but it is immediately striking that, wherever you look, there are no closed spaces: diverse and enormous structures built with local materials, such as natural fibers , give shelter to the common areas letting the wind flow and soften the usual warm temperatures .
In one of them, the hotel bar, is where check-in takes place in the most relaxed way. In another, the restaurant, with the tables strategically placed to ensure the tranquility of the diners. Here and there, corners full of armchairs and seats available for relaxation —what else does one come to look for here?—, the sun loungers that surround the infinity pool and even a souvenir shop.
Everything, very important, inspired by the constructions of local communities and completely integrated into nature. A diamond-shaped
Thus, together, they decided that the exclusivity of the place should go through ensuring its most precious asset, the privacy of the guests: 8 rooms, arranged on different levels, were more than enough for this. Not one more. Among them, a larger one with a private pool for families, and another with an outdoor bed dedicated to honeymooners. All, of course, overlooking the Nile: there was no doubt.
Another of the pillars that inspired the philosophy of the Nile Safari Lodge was, from its origins, sustainability. A green commitment to the conservation and protection of nature and the communities that surround them, which involved installing photovoltaic panels that supply the solar energy necessary to generate electricity: they have 150 batteries, that’s nothing.
They also make direct use of the waters of the Nile, which they filter and store in tanks: water that they also supply to local communities. For the infinity pool , that one with stylized lines with eternal views —again— to the river and the national park, they use salt. When building the new structure of the lodge, they also kept in mind that they would respect every tree, every root, every plant that lived in it: more than once they had to change their ways to protect them.
In the decoration, more commitment to the ecological: natural fiber lamps, designer furniture in noble woods from Rwanda, Congo and Uganda itself, including what they say is the most comfortable armchair in the world, by Rampel Designs. Cushions in sandy tones and ethnic motifs, rattan swings and even, in some hidden place, a Balinese bed from which to contemplate the beauty of the landscape in all its splendor.
Thanks to this, Nile Safari Lodge is part of Beyond Green , the prestigious international seal under which there are large luxury accommodations spread throughout the world focused on responsible tourism and care for the planet: hotels, lodges and resorts that have sustainability by flag. A clear example that, there is no doubt, in this little corner of Uganda they are doing things very well.
SLEEP IN PARADISE
Every night, at sunset, a concert of hoarse and indecipherable sounds coming from the waters of the Nile begins at the foot of the rooms. Those sounds, every few seconds, are repeated: sometimes softer, sometimes surprisingly loud, they continue to accompany in the background for hours, until sleep wins.
The protagonists of those roars are none other than the hippos, owners and lords of the Nile, who are soon joined by crickets, toads, and the odd fellow adventurer: all together they are responsible for composing the soundtrack of the Nile Safari Lodge. The vervet monkeys , small, funny and mischievous primates, can also be seen on the terraces , offering their particular show.
A show to enjoy, if you will, from the rooms themselves, all baptized with names in Swahili that pay homage to nature, such as Upepo, which means wind, or Dunia, earth. Spacious, diaphanous, with all the necessary details to turn the experience of sleeping at the Nile Safari Lodge into an unforgettable memory.
Whether from the bed —raised on a wooden platform—, from the bathtub —the bathroom that has an entire glass wall— or from the private terrace, the views of the Nile and everything that happens in it do nothing but move who beholds them . To put the icing on the cake, two showers: one inside, and one outside. And some sunsets that simply cannot be described in words.
PAMPER YOURSELF, FAVORITE VERB
Luxury can take many forms, and they know that well around here. For this reason, every aspect that can make the perfect stay is thought out so that there are no options: the experience must be 10. And that, of course, includes gastronomy: chef Melissa is the one who orchestrates the menus that can be enjoyed both in lunches and dinners, as in the hotel bar, where a menu of tapas and snacks is always available.