Whilst staying at Uganda’s Murchison Falls National Park, we stayed for three nights at Paraa Safari Lodge. It is part of the Marasa Africa group of hotels, and we also stayed at Mweya Safari Lodge whilst visiting Queen Elizabeth National Park later in our trip.
The lodge, located in the park so convenient for the safari game drives and river trips, sits on the northern shore of the Victoria Nile, and until 2021, was reached via an 8-minute ferry crossing, now it’s a quick drive over a substantial two-lane bridge.
Over chilled water melon, the receptionist bombarded us with times of every meal (early morning tea and coffee from 5.45am to 6am, breakfast 6.15am to 9.30am, lunch 12.30pm to 2.30pm and dinner 6.30pm to 9.30pm). In addition, there were the times when power was unavailable (11.30am to 2.30pm and 4.30pm to 6.30pm) and, in a nod to Covid, we had to decide how frequently we wanted our room cleaned and sheets and towels changed.
As the lodge had 54 rooms over two storeys, we opted for one of three tents, which promised a more authentic ‘safari’ experience. The downside was that it was a bit of a hike to the main building, the padlock which had to be clipped into three zips was not easy to manage particularly in the dark, and we had to be accompanied by an armed ranger when returning in the dark after dinner. However, we thought it was a good choice, as we had privacy and the wooden deck, with comfortable sofa and chairs, overlooked the Nile and attracted cooling breezes.
Our large bed had a mosquito net, unfurled at turndown, and there were bedside tables, two other tables and behind the bed, two wardrobes (with slippers and a safe) and another table. There was also a fridge, tea and coffee making facilities and Wi-Fi which was a surprise. The tiled bathroom was a good size, with a central basin and shower on one side and loo on the other. The hairdryer plugged in next to a mirror and all plug points didn’t require adaptors.
The bar and dining room in the large lodge were on the first floor and the latter had a covered terrace. Depending on guest numbers, which varied on our three nights, food was served from an a la carte menu or buffet style. Meals were excellent but when lunch consisted of soup or salad, followed by a choice of three mains – meat, fish and vegetarian (often an Indian curry) and pudding, three courses in the evening, were too much. We preferred the buffet which allowed us to manage portion sizes more easily. Tea and coffee was available self-service at the end of every meal.
When our morning game drive began before breakfast started, we took a picnic which included cold toasted sandwiches and proved to be a bit too substantial. Once again, we preferred more leisurely mornings when a buffet was available, although when I asked the egg chef for a single fried egg, I ended up with three.
There was a large swimming pool with outdoor bar, and health club. However, we didn’t really have time to make much use of either, although we did enjoy one post river cruise drinks session as we returned a bit earlier in the evening.