24-hour room service: Mahogany Springs, Uganda

A lodge with creatures and comfort

It's easy to see where Mahogany Springs gets its name. Standing 60 metres high, the 400-year old mahogany tree in the centre of its gardens is impossible to ignore when you're sitting on the terrace of Buhoma's newest lodge, just outside Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. "Strangely, the silhouette of the tree mirrors the shape of Africa," manager Jotham Awiti tells me "but people don't see this until they look back at their photographs."

Beyond the mahogany tree and the freshwater spring that emerges as a stream in the grounds, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest smothers the hills in the distance, taking its ominous name from the dense cover of trees, vines and shrubs. But ignore the repellent title; you can and should infiltrate the jungle, because inside lives almost half the world's population of mountain gorillas, thought to number about 340.

Gorilla tracking can be arduous, with long hours trekking through thick vegetation, but the reward of coming face-to-face with these majestic primates is immeasurable. And returning to creature comforts at a lodge such as Mahogany Springs afterwards keeps the endorphins rushing.

The men behind the luxury lodge are Barrie Gotch from the UK, and the owner of a Ugandan construction business, Allan Jamani. It opened in May after four years of hard – and sometimes frustrating – work, involving complex land ownership issues and logistical challenges in getting supplies to this remote location during the rainy seasons. Gotch had fallen in love with the area – and its gorillas - on a business trip to Uganda for his father's London-based travel company. He dreamt of creating a stylish lodge that would add another option to the handful of existing lodges around Buhoma; it's now a reality.

The main building – terracotta coloured with a thatched roof and a dark wood terrace – contains a bar made from reclaimed mahogany; the hotel claims it to be the longest in Uganda. When the ever-smiling barman David is pouring gin and tonics, there seems little reason to argue. Dinner is also served here, in an open-sided, wood-beamed room with a fireplace for chillier evenings.

Fanning out from the main building, the gardens are instantly soothing – lush green with dazzling orange marigolds and trumpet lilies, leading down to a bubbling river. And if one encounter with gorillas isn't enough, you might be granted a distant audience with a local group, Rushegura, which often appears on the hillside opposite (although you need binoculars to appreciate the moment).

Location

The lodge is in south-western Uganda, in Buhoma – a centre for gorilla tracking. You can either arrive via a pricey plane journey from Entebbe, or more commonly, a 10-hour drive.

It's only a short distance from the lodge to the Park's headquarters where you'll receive your briefing on gorilla etiquette before heading off to track one of three habituated groups and hopefully experience an unforgettable hour in the company of your primate cousins. But Bwindi also boasts other interesting nature walks and cultural experiences that add a different perspective to a visit. Unesco lists the protected forest as "a key site for biodiversity on the continent" and "a superlative natural phenomenon".

Comfort

The eight terracotta-coloured bandas (round chalets) with en-suite shower-rooms are more urban-contemporary than rustic safari-chic inside. However, they blend in sympathetically with their environment by use of wooden flooring, banana leaf ceilings and furniture made from reclaimed mahogany or sustainable pine and eucalyptus. The palette is one of soothing cream and dark wood, while fresh flowers add splashes of colour.

In deference to colonial history, the seven one-bedroom suites are named after British royalty, such as George, Albert and Victoria. They are spacious and secluded, with intricately-carved dark wood terraces that overlook the pretty gardens and hills beyond. Finally, the Presidential Suite, with its huge terrace, two en-suite bedrooms and a living area, is well-suited to families.

Mahogany Springs, Buhoma, Bwindi, Uganda, (020-8736 0713; mahoganysprings.com).

Rooms 4 stars
Value 4 stars
Service 4 stars

Double rooms start at US$403 (£268), room only.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Guru Careers: Marketing Executive / Digital Marketing Executive

    COMPETITIVE: Guru Careers: A Marketing / Digital Marketing Executive (CRM, Eve...

    Recruitment Genius: Receptionist / Sales / Customer Service Assistant

    £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: The role is likely to be 4on 4 off, days and ...

    Ashdown Group: Print Designer - High Wycombe - Permanent £28K

    £25000 - £28000 per annum + 24 days holiday, bonus, etc.: Ashdown Group: Print...

    Recruitment Genius: Business Travel Consultant

    £20000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With offices in London, Manches...

    Day In a Page

    Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

    Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

    But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
    Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

    Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

    Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
    Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

    Britain's 24-hour culture

    With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
    Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

    The addictive nature of Diplomacy

    Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
    Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

    Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

    Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
    8 best children's clocks

    Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

    Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
    Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
    Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

    The Arab Spring reversed

    Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
    King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

    Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

    Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
    Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

    Who is Oliver Bonas?

    It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
    Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

    Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

    However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
    60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

    60 years of Scalextric

    Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones