Five Stars On The Shores of Lake Victoria
It came as no surprise when Uganda was named one of CNN’s top up-and-coming travel destinations for 2016. And, we wouldn’t have expected anything less from a country affectionately known as “The Pearl of Africa” for its variation of geographic landforms and wildlife. From trekking mountain gorillas in the UNESCO world heritage site, to exploring Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, to white-water rafting on the source of the river Nile and watching hippos in Queen Elizabeth National Park, travelers to Uganda have many options. What’s amazing about Uganda is that this landlocked country, comparable in size to Cambodia or the U.S. state of Oregon, contains over half of all the bird species in Africa and numerous natural wonders.
Nestled along the northern shores of Lake Victoria, in a town southeast of the capital Kampala, lies Munyonyo, and the tropical five-star oasis that is Munyoyo Commonwealth Speke Resort. Located 45km away from Entebbe International Airport by car, the Speke Resort is blessed by Uganda’s favorable climate which averages 26 degrees celsius annually (78 degrees Fahrenheit). And, built upon 100 acres of finely manicured grounds that are every lawn lover’s dream, Speke resort provides an opportunity to withdraw from the boda bodas (motorcycle taxis) and chaos of downtown Kampala, and reconnect with nature.
Travelers can expect to be welcomed by first-class service and facilities upon their arrival, and have the opportunity to arrange activities from bird watching and safaris to fishing trips and horse riding directly from the resort. The wide variety of options make the Speke Resort an ideal base to set out on longer excursions or simply visit for the day to enjoy their amenities.
With my family roots originating from Uganda, I’ve been visiting Speke Resort for almost seven years. Regardless the duration of my trip, I always make sure a trip to the resort is on the agenda. This past December 2016, my family visited the resort after an almost three-year hiatus, and I was slightly discouraged by the price increases. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find consistent service with its friendly staff, maintained property/facilities, and welcoming vibe that repeatedly brings me back.
Anyone traveling with babies or young children will also be glad to know the Speke Resort is rated the most child-friendly location in Kampala, according to insiders.
And, when you aren’t out and about exploring Uganda, here are several on-site amenities at Speke Resort to keep you busy:
The dramatic pool, with a tiki bar and underwater bar stools, is definitely one of Speke’s best features. This is the only venue in Kampala that boasts an Olympic-sized swimming pool. Even if you don’t get in, just looking at the water and taking in the scenery gives you a sense of tranquility. And, the kids’ pool is perfect for little ones to splash away. The pool is open from the hours of 07:00 – 19:00, and serves a flavorful selection of poolside food.
Speke provides a 28-horse, full-fledged Equestrian centre on its grounds, which makes horse rides for the entire family possible. To ensure kids aren’t left out of the fun, Speke also has a selection of ponies available. And, if horse/pony rides aren’t your thing, it’s still fun to watch the horses trot around. Call ahead to book individual or shared lessons with the hotel’s highly trained team of instructors.
The beautifully manicured grounds of Speke Resort provides ideal scenery for romantic walks with a loved one or family, so be sure to bring your camera! You can literally spend hours walking through the grounds, and the proximity of the resort to Lake Victoria provides the perfect backdrop. If you are into exercising, there are winding trails scattered throughout the complex that are perfect for running and exercising. Keep your eyes open as you may meet a few small guests on your journey. For those looking for something magical, catching an evening sunset over Lake Victoria is definitely one of life’s finer pleasures.
Speke’s marina offers visitors a range of water activities to explore. One has the option of renting small, private boats or you can opt for the 70-seat public sunset cruise liner. Or, if you’re feeling adventurous, you can participate in aquatic sports, rent jet-skis, or indulge in fishing day trips.
Whether you’ve traveled to the continent many times or this is your first time visiting, Uganda provides a perfect entry point. The vast amount of activities available to travelers combined with the ever-welcoming local population makes Uganda an ideal choice. If you feel inspired to book a trip, be aware that Uganda has two rainy seasons from March through May, and October to November.
Jonah Batambuze is an artist, connector, and globetrotter. A first-generation Ugandan, born in the U.S., Batambuze currently resides outside London, England with his wife and two young children. You can find Batambuze blogging, creating content, and managing social media all in the name of KampInd.