Mihingo Lodge; Wildly Wonderful
From the dining and pool area, guests can enjoy the view of a westward oriented valley and its stunning evening sunsets over Lake Mburo National Park.
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First published: May 5, 2009
Ralph Schenk went on his first wild safari tour at the age of two weeks. Having been raised in Kenya by parents who spent lots of time on safari, his business acumen increased and without a doubt, he knew that he wanted to spend the rest of his life taming the wild and touching the freedom of the unknown.
Beverley interviews Ralph.
Ralph, born to a Scottish mother and German father, has the sturdiness of a rock, just like the rocks which form the foundation of his lodge at Lake Mburo National Park. Just after Lyantonde town, about 200 km from Kampala, Ralph saw the site in 2001 and swapped his own piece of land for the massive 240 acres which was then owned by an elderly Muhima gentleman. Mihingo is also the name of the African olive wood which form the enclosure for cattle. Cattle are treasured highly amongst the Bahima.
From 2001 to 2005, Ralph's vision for Mihingo Lodge grew and after the title deed was finally processed, he commenced work. Building on rock had its perks and challenges. While the rocks formed their own foundation, the difficulty came with leveling. A lot of calculation was involved and all the material had to be carried up because machines were unable to drive up to the actual lodge site. It took one and a half years, 700 truckloads of ferrying on extremely bad roads, different advice from engineers from East Africa and Europe and in February 2007, Ralph finally opened up his lodge. His wife, who owns the popular Kampala craft shop called Banana Boat, also offered invaluable support and after assessing the rich investment climate in Uganda, they both knew they had made the best choice.
The secrets of Mihingo Lodge lie in various solitary successes like in the evenings, when it comes to feeding bush babies. Every guest has a chance to see the furry animals high up in a tree getting fed. Bush babies exist in other areas of Kampala that have plenty of trees like Mbuya and Kololo.
Bush Babies being fed at Mihingo Lodge.
One of Ralph's best moments at the lodge is when he is with one of the nine horses, galloping through the park, free from the sound of engines and free from urban insanity. Lake Mburo is the only game park in Uganda where horse meets beast on a wild trail and both continue to co-exist. Mihingo Lodge is also the only place that offers horse safaris near a national park.
Ralph says, "When I am on my horse and we come across a herd of buffalo, the buffalo approach the horse with friendly curiosity. None of these animals harms each other. Horses are also able to smell animals from a long way off and if a rider senses this, can slow down to be able to view the animals better. The Elands usually run away from humans but on a horse, they are much friendlier."
Zebra at Lake Mburo National Park.
Water Buck at Lake Mburo National Park.
The greatness of Lake Mburo National Park is limitless. A must-see is Kasoma look-out point which offers a view of all eight lakes surrounding Lake Mburo with a magnificent view into the valley. Visitors can also go for walking safaris which most other national parks do not offer.
Another unforgettable factor is the swimming pool. It is not often that a swimming pool is carved from a rock. Creating this pool took careful calculation and ingenious to make it work. Shaped like the grilled steak which the chef prepares for supper, (the best steak in Uganda), a soaking in the pool is soothing after a long day in the park.
Ralph has also tried to make the lodge as eco-friendly as possible with solar powered electricity and water pumps.
Rooms at Mihingo Lodge.
Professionalism mixed with genuine friendliness and care- the staff at the lodge were able to provide all that. As a guest, I stayed with my husband and daughter in Bush Baby, one of the ten rooms for guests. With a lot of space, hot water from the showers, a baby cot and balcony with an untamed view, Mihingo Lodge makes a weekend worth its while.
Beverley's husband and daughter at Mihingo Lodge.
On mentioning his other best places in Uganda, Ralph likes Kidepo Valley National Park, Murchison Falls National Park and Ishasha at Queen Elizabeth National Park. There definitely is a lot more to Uganda that the news tells us.
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First published: May 5, 2009
Beverley Nambozo Nsengiyunva has a baby girl called Zion Agasaro and together with her husband, tries to make each day another reason to excel. Writing has been her passion from childhood. For her first degree, her desire was to study Creative Writing which was not available at Makerere University in Kampala and so opted for Bachelor of Arts in Education majoring in Literature in English. After that, she did two certificates in French from Alliance Francaise in Kampala.
Beverley currently serves on the executive board of Uganda Women Writers' Association (FEMRITE) and also works at EASSI, an Eastern African regional organization that focuses on women's rights.
She has a collection of Travel poetry and erotic poetry and is interested in the short story genre as well. Her fist novel is expected to be out in 2010.
As we collect more articles from Beverly, for now if you wish to read more from Beverley go to her blog: The Exodus of Whatever.