Whilst visiting Uganda’s Queen Elizabeth National Park we stayed for three nights at Mweya Safari Lodge. It’s said to be one of Uganda’s best with lavish accommodation and excellent services with our Bradt guidebook stating aptly described by both admirers and detractors as a “Sheraton in the bush”. Situated on a neck of land, it has perfect views of Lake Edward and Kazinga channel.
The lodge is part of the Marasa Africa group of hotels, and we also stayed at Paraa Safari Lodge whilst visiting Murchison Falls National Park. There were 2 suites, 32 standard rooms and 12 deluxe rooms, and we stayed in the latter and benefitted from the addition of air conditioning.
We were taken the short distance to room 16 by golf buggy. As the lodge is in the national park, animals can roam and whilst we could walk freely during the day, after dinner we had to either use the golf buggy or get a security guard to escort us.
Our room, at the end of a short row, was a good size, and very well equipped with lots of English style plug points, safe and spare pillows in the wardrobe, tea and coffee making facilities, hairdryer, desk and chair, but only one space for an open suitcase. There was no fridge. Beds were turned down in the evening, the mosquito net unfurled, and chocolates left, at least on the first two nights. Wi-Fi was available, but only in the communal areas.
The bathroom was modern with walk in, powerful shower, basin, loo and plenty of towel rails.
Our room had a stone terrace with two comfortable chairs and coffee table. From here we had good views of both the Kazinga Channel and animals on the other side which included buffalo, elephant and birds. Warthog grazed the lodge’s lawns and one afternoon, came very close to us.
The lodge operated a same day laundry service using what was charmingly described as a ‘laundry machine’, unlike other lodges where it was washed by hand and pressed by charcoal iron. My dusty, dirty beige safari shorts were returned immaculate within hours for the equivalent of 50p.
Our meal plan was full board. As most guests were on safari involving early morning game drives, tea, coffee and biscuits were available at the lodge from 6.15am. As breakfast didn’t start until 7am when we wanted to be on the move, we took packed breakfasts.
Depending on guest numbers, both lunch (1pm to 3pm) and dinner (7pm to 10pm) were either buffet style or a la carte with the option of eating on the outdoor terrace or restaurant. We tended to favour al fresco lunches but found the terrace a little dark and windy in the evening. Buffets included a salad bar, soup, and then a good array of both vegetable and meat dishes followed by mini desserts. The a la carte offered either soup or a fixed salad, choice of vegetarian, fish or meat main with accompaniments, followed by dessert or fruit. I invariably chose vegetarian: not only was it lighter with two large meals a day, but it included wonderfully spicy Indian curries, masalas and dals with chapatis and rice. After commenting on the flavours, I was told the chef was Indian. Portion sizes were always huge and one evening the accompaniment to paprika chicken, was nine golf ball sized potatoes! Coffee and tea were available for drinking in the spacious bar which had various types of seating, both indoors and outdoors.
The day before we arrived, we celebrated our wedding anniversary, but at the lodge where we stayed, the wine had been prohibitively expensive. It was therefore a pleasant surprise to find the wine more reasonably priced, and therefore instead of our usual G&T, we celebrated with a bottle of South African Sauvignon Blanc at 85,000 shillings (£19).
Whilst there was a beautiful swimming pool with great views, we never had time to use it.
We enjoyed our three nights in what was one of the larger places we stayed, and whilst it was comfortable, I certainly wouldn’t agree with Bradt.