By Aggrey Nshekanabo
A new lodge; Elephant Plains Lodge has opened on the precincts of Queen Elizabeth National Park at Kikorongo. This is the second high end lodge to open within Queen Elizabeth National Park after Mweya Safari Lodge.
It has spectacular views of Lake George’s extended arm at Kikorongo the junction of Kasese-Bwera as the national park stretches eastwards overlooking the hills of Buhweju and to the South, the Kyambura escarpments.
The snow-capped Mt. Rwenzori Ranges provide an exquisite backdrop of the lodge with farmlands that spread northwards. To the South of the lodge, the park further stretches as the savannah touches the sky as Lake Edward further waves on into the Virunga Park of the D.R Congo.
According to Amos Wekesa, the proprietor of Elephant Plains Lodge and Chief Executive of Uganda Lodges and Great Lakes Safaris, the plan was to see the lodge open during this Christmas season for high end and midrange travellers.
“This becomes our fourth lodge under the Uganda Lodges stable. Compared to the others, Elephant Plains was especially built to serve high end travellers by giving them an option to enjoy exclusive and personalized lodging experiences;
Not that we do not have the same services in our other lodges. There has been demand for this kind of service on the northern side of the Queen Elizabeth and we wanted to offer that alternative,” Wekesa says.
He is quick to say that Uganda Lodges is not competing with Mweya Safari Lodge in offering this kind of service but to complement each other.
“We complement each other businesswise. We are not competing. We have what Mweya does not have and they have what we may not have and the traveller needs to be served both. So, we are here to ensure that this exclusive service is not missed at all;” Wekesa says.
According to Wekesa, the construction and furnishing has cost not less than US$3M as the lodge sits on more than 10 acres complete with a massive swimming pool and stone pathways in a bush setting.
Each of the seven chalets are constructed with exclusive views for maximum privacy and completely detached from one another. There is also one large family unit that can take in up to six people. Considering that this northern part of the park is slightly hotter than the south, Elephant Plains Lodge is completely thatched save for the main restaurant who ceiling is intentionally picked.
From the porches of most of the chalets one can easily see herds of elephants that elegantly roam about freely below the lodge; perhaps the presence of so many elephants, is where the lodge derives its name. Considering that the lodge is atop Kikorongo hill, from afar, the shape of the roofs of the units can false one to think they are elephants walking downhill to drink water from the Kikorongo arm of Lake George.
The swimming pool is placed in such a way that you have a view of the sitting area of the front part of the main restaurant and a view of the park below. The artistic works give the lodge especially the main restaurant a rustic feel of the past interspersed with modernity. The added beauty is that the lodge sits just a kilometre away from the Equator crossing at Kikorongo.
Edward Asalu, the Queen Elizabeth National Park Conservation Area Manager says that Elephant Plains Lodge is a welcome addition considering that the park is a popular destination with the highest visitor numbers compared to the rest of the 10 national parks in Uganda.
The lodge is just 30 minutes’ drive from Kasese Airstrip for which, there are scheduled flights from Entebbe International Airport and one can easily connect to Savannah airstrip in Kihiihi for a date with the Gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.