Saturday, September 20, 2008
AdvEntURe: The Nile on Horseback and a Rainforest Lodge
My back (and backside!) have finally stopped hurting enough to confirm that I won't be going horseback riding again in the near future. I did earn a badge of adventurism from my near-teens, however, so I'm glad we went and we did have a really great time.
Nile Horseback Safaris is run by a lovely english woman called Natalie, who has a well trained Ugandan staff taking care of more than 15 horses and their various guest riders like us. Her house and tented stables overlook a lovely pool in an elbow of the Nile, not far from it's source at Jinja, at the edge of Lake Victoria.
Our 2 hour guided horse ride took us on paths through villages there along the Nile, past homesteads with their ever curious children, shouting and running to watch us up close as we passed. I noted that this time their shouts were not "mzungu! mzungu!" referring to our family of foreigners, but "mbabazi!" They were so excited to see the horses! (Horses are not indigenous to Uganda, so we don't too have many here.)
There wasn't enough open space to get any good gallops in, but Lucas (11) got to canter a bit and the rest of us got bounced to near death in some lively trots. All the horses but one were very well behaved. Thomas (12) had a few troubles motivating his horse to keep up with the rest of the group, but one of our 2 guides made sure he didn't get left behind.
All in all a safe and highly recommended family adventure activity in Uganda. The minimum age for the ride is 6 though, so Natalie was nice enough to let our 4 year old Ben hang out with her toddler. He was happy enough with a quick ride around the paddock, and a promise that he could go swimming at the Rainforest Lodge later on.
Wow. What a beautiful place.
Geo Lodges Uganda has done it again. It's no surprise they've won Best Ecobusiness of the Year. Their Jacanna Lodge in Queen Elizabeth National Park has long been one of my very favorite heaven on earth places. While I still prefer Jacanna's crater lake views from every room, there is a dramatic ambiance at the Rainforest Lodge that's carried off with incredible style.
The dining hall first reminded me of something out of an old King Kong Movie set. Lit up at night, the side facing the forest was one of the most beautiful sites I'd ever seen. The buildings melt naturally into the forest surroundings, illuminating the beauty of natural wood and stone.
We loved the sauna (a real Finnish kind) and the food was really great too.
All in all, these two newish additions to Uganda's ecotourism offer were a hit with our family - and all within 1.5 hours of the capital. If you're ever in Uganda, it was a perfect way to spend a weekend.
Get ready for AdvEntURe!