Travelers revere Uganda for its gorilla-filled jungles, awe-inspiring Nile waterfalls, and untamed, un-touristy safaris. But the gorilla trekking experience, exclusive to Uganda and its two other neighbors, is frequently appearing on African travelers’ bucket lists like no other experience.
Because traveling to Uganda to watch gorillas is such an expensive venture, travelers want to spend their money well and indulge in luxury niceties for this once-in-a-lifetime experience.
The outskirts of Bwindi have luxury lodges that will get you into the African bush mood and prepare you to explore one of Africa’s most ancient habitats. Most of these accommodation choices have the misty primeval jungle in view and are nestled on ridges, among mountains, terraced hills, and rolling volcanic slopes.
These breathtaking luxury lodges in Bwindi have amenities you might not expect from their remote locations. Hot showers, walk-in bathrooms, bathtubs, and delicious culinary delights are standard.
From deluxe “glamping” cottages occasionally visited by the gentle giants of the forest to private rooms on the ridge overlooking the forest canopies to private cottages tucked into a tangle of the rainforest, here are six of the best luxury lodges in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
From US$230 per person with meals
Perched high on Nteko Ridge, the charming multi-award-winning lodge has spectacular views over the entirety of Bwindi in one direction and the majestic Virunga Mountains chain on the other.
This rural paradise getaway has earned its name as Uganda’s leading Safari Lodge at the World Travel Awards seven times in a row. The Ugandan owners have recently renovated and upgraded all the facilities, including the cottages, gardens, walkways, and main reception area, to world-class standards that leave guests blown away.
Nkuringo Bwindi Gorilla Lodge has Eleven private cottages, two family-style villas, and three luxurious suites nestled above the Bwindi on a forested ridge with distinctive elegance. Some rooms face the Virunga Mountains chain with startling luxury amid a quintessential garden of flowers and trees. Locally styled furnishings grace the spacious rooms, and floor-to-ceiling windows fill the space with natural lighting, allowing the guests to sleep in nature.
The recently added cozy dining and reception area has quirky features amid large wooden columns, beams and flooring, raffia ceilings, volcanic stone fireplaces, and walls. The place exudes a rustic charm with African-styled furniture, art, decor, fabrics, and carvings adorning the walls.
The lodge is entirely eco-friendly, using solar power for light, natural gas for heating and cooking, and rainwater harvesting. It has an onsite fresh vegetable garden to supply the kitchen with your fresh veggie delights.
Nkuringo is your unmatched base for gorilla trekking in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest; this is where you should stay!
From USD 350 per person with meals
This community luxury lodge in Bwindi consists of a chalet-like main lodge and seven guesthouses, built from local volcanic stone and outfitted with handwoven rugs and works from the country’s most renowned artists.
At almost 7,000 feet above sea level, it’s not unusual for visitors to see the Virunga volcanoes across Bwindi Impenetrable Forest glowing amber against the darkened sky.
Ten stone cottages have loft-like interiors with African-themed art, high-beamed ceilings, a spacious bedroom, a lounge area, and an en suite bathroom with a shower. A fireplace links the bedroom and lounge, ensuring the rooms are cozy and warm in the cool evenings. A private butler and housekeeper provide hot-water bottles and keep the fireplace lit on chilly mountain evenings.
Apart from gorilla trekking, one can go for forest walks with Batwa guides and visit lodge-managed community projects designed to help local subsistence farmers.
From US$250 per person
Set in the Northern Section of Bwindi, Buhoma Lodge enjoys effortless access to the park and is an excellent base from which to hike the jungle gorilla trekking and explore the area.
One of only two lodges set within Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park’s bounds, Buhoma lodge enjoys incredible views across the forest canopy.
Each of the ten chalets accentuates the natural beauty of the surrounds of the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. With stunning views from each private veranda, guests will surely gain a new appreciation of Africa’s stunning natural beauty. Each cottage contains comfortable beds, an en suite bathroom, a flushing toilet, and a hot shower, with a few having the added luxury of a bathtub. The rooms have huge windows and private sheltered verandas to take advantage of the montane forest views. Hot water bottles and luxury blankets keep you warm on the chillier mountain evenings.
Communal areas of the lodge include an elevated lounge area with bar and dining facilities. A cozy, communal lounge area surrounding a warm fireplace encourages guests to gather and share stories of the day’s adventures.
The restaurant serves high-quality four-course meals every evening, and the well-stocked bar will keep you hydrated. Relaxing around the open fireside here is hard to beat after a day tracking the mountain gorillas through the misty forest jungle.
From US$740 per person
Also set in the Northern section of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Bwindi Lodge’s most impressive feature is that sometimes the gorillas sleep on the grounds of the lodge. How cool is that?!
This luxury lodge in Bwindi has a rustic charm with a modern, sophisticated ambiance. The central lounge and communal dining area offer spectacular views of the forest below and an ideal setting for evenings around the fireplace reliving exciting gorilla sightings.
The décor in this wilderness safari lodge is contemporary and designed to meld with its natural surroundings. The eight unique cottages, each with an en-suite bathroom, are named after Bwindi’s famous gorillas and furnished with four-poster beds, hand-carved furniture, and terraces affording stunning views of the surrounding forest.
The expansive main terrace is ideal for enjoying sundowners. The view is so enchanting that even the mountain gorillas occasionally amble in to relax in the lodge’s gardens.
Guests can follow the River Trail below the lodge and take a dip, perhaps watched by inquisitive monkeys. Not much will make you want to leave the lodge’s comfort and the personal butler service. But a short walk to the local village for a tapas-style meal at the famous Bwindi Bar is a must.
From US$415 per person
Sanctuary Retreats Gorilla Forest Lodge, run by Abercrombie and Kent, is one of the two luxury lodges in Bwindi inside the park’s boundaries. The lodge’s fabulous location surprises the guests with occasional visits from one of the local gorilla groups who literally look peep into guests’ rooms—what an enchanting sight.
Gorilla Forest Camp consists of the main lodge and eight sleeping tents built with wood, thatch, and canvas. The sleeping tents are raised on wooden platforms, spacious, airy, and beautifully designed. They possess a double or twin bed, a well-furnished veranda, plenty of room to change in, and a separate bathroom. The bathroom contains a sink, toilet, shower, and a standalone bath.
The rooms feel clean, homely, and welcoming with polished wooden floors, various mod-cons, and well-chosen and locally sourced tables and seats.
The shared areas include a bar, lounge, dining area, veranda, shop, and fire pit. The main lodge is a large open plan with low surrounding walls, a peaked roof, and a comfortable and lightweight seating range.
Lit at night by hurricane lamps, guests usually – weather permitting – sit around a fire with their hosts and plan the next day’s events.
From US$240 per person
Nestled on the pristine riverbank of the Munyanga river, Mahogany Springs Safari Lodge takes its name from the 400-year-old mahogany tree that towers majestically above the lodge gardens.
From the unrivaled service and breathtaking views to world-class cuisine and gorilla trekking expeditions, the little touches at Mahogany Springs Lodge put it among the best luxury lodges in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.
This luxury lodge consists of seven large thatched cottages that blend seamlessly with the surroundings and overlook the clear waters of the Munyanga River and the dense jungles of the national park. Suites are spacious with large double doors, hardwood floors, crisp white linens, sun-soaked windows, gorgeously designed open terracotta showers, advanced mosquito net systems, and private terraces with panoramic views of the verdant valley.
From the sun’s rising through the day’s end, the main building at Mahogany Springs Lodge provides guests with an optimal place to gather. You can enjoy a glass of wine at the impressive wooden bar and relax in front of the double-sided fireplace with a book or board game from the library.
Meals are memorable, with Head Chef Subedi preparing a wide range of international flavors. Barbecue night, a favorite with guests is held once a week on the terrace, and afternoon tea is included every day alongside fresh cakes and biscuits from the lodge’s pastry chef.
Private bush breakfasts and dinners by the river put you in the center of nature’s drama, leaving you awash with magical enchantment.
Celebrate your jungle experience with a massage from the onsite masseuse or a champagne toast on the terrace. The exotic gardens and intricately designed stone pathways leading to the river invite guests to uncover every corner of this magical place, including such surprises as the homegrown vegetable garden.
All the best six luxury lodges in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest offer privacy and serenity blended with optimal comfort in one of the finest locations on the African continent, home to the last half of the world’s endangered mountain gorillas.
From the unrivaled service and breathtaking views to world-class cuisine and gorilla trekking expeditions, the little touches at these luxury lodges leave guests enchanted and wanting more of the African safari experience.
Some people may not agree with this list, adding lodges like Chameleon Hill Lodge, Mutanda Lake Resort, Gorilla Heights Lodge, and many others that didn’t make this list. Those lodges may have the facilities and great views to match our selection. But they can’t match these top-selected players’ personal service to their guests. You must agree with me on that, right?
So which one is it going to be for you? Have you stayed in any one of these fine properties? Tell me your experience in the comments below.