Tuesday, April 22, 2008

"Old Africa" Charm

In the mood to try the “Old Africa” lifestyle? You'll find it at Ndali Lodge in the Bunyaruguru crater lake region of Western Uganda. It’s an intimate family-run place full of small pleasures and the atmosphere of the way things used to be.

The lodge sits in a spectacular location on the rim of an extinct volcano that filled with water to become Lake Nyinambuga. It is surrounded by villages of the Toro people and tea plantations, some still owned by the family of the builder of the lodge, Mark Price, whose father settled in the region in the 1920’s.

There is a main thatched lodge with bar and sitting room, reception area and dining room flanked by cottages built of local stone and thatch. The cottages face west to offer a panoramic view of the Rwenzori Mountains, also known as the Mountains of the Moon.

The lodge has no electricity, but the dining room and cottages are lit with candles and lanterns, giving it a wonderfully romantic “Old Africa” air. Fruit bats swoop through the open passage ways and in and out among the rafters in the dining room. Three rather fat and spoiled dogs wander in and out and sleep on the cottage verandas, lending a homey touch to your stay.
Ndali Lodge provides guides for walks around the 1000 acre farm and local banana plantations, coffee terraces, plots of cassava, groundnuts, sorghum and millet. You can also visit the Mahoma Waterfall. Below the lodge is a sturdy jetty set in a secluded spot on the crater lake that’s frequented by five different species of kingfisher.

Kibale Forest National park, home of what’s claimed to be the largest concentration of chimpanzees in Africa, as well as a bewildering variety of other primates, birds and butterflies is about 45 minutes away. Also close by is the Bigodi wetland sanctuary, a community-based conservation project. Ndali is an ideal stopping off place between Queen Elizabeth National Park and Murchison Falls National Park.

Dave Donelson, author of Heart of Diamonds a about in the

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