There is a little bit of heaven to be found on Kalagala Island situated in the Nile River, a romantic getaway by the name of “Wildwaters Lodge”. The advertisement says: extraordinary, unique, unforgettable. It is all of the above. The secluded island nestled in the rainforest is accessed by means of a five minute glide through the peaceful water by boat, trusty Johnson manning the oars.
Greeted by Winnie the manager, we were served fresh mango juice and handed cooling facecloths. We were then led along the raised walkways to the spacious open plan main lodge with its high ceiling and thatched roof atop carved beams. A bar/lounge area on a raised platform is set back from the stunning dining area which overlooks the natural rock pool and thundering rapids. A comfortable seating area to the left of the dining area hosts a well stocked bookshelf (including children’s books donated by the McLeay children and gleefully discovered amongst the paperbacks by our daughters). Fleece blankets are draped over the armchairs for use should an evening chill threaten an indulgent nightcap.
The lodge consists of 10 individual cabins, each with a private decked balcony and claw footed bath offering a sensational view of the Nile rapids. Although some guests may find the noise of the rapids to be too loud, on the contrary I found it comforting, I miss the sea! And it had the added advantage of drowning out the excited screeches of two young girls!
We were shown to the Royal guest suite, a stunning cabin split over two levels. Our bags which had been loaded onto a wheelbarrow off the boat were already there. Given the zipped canvas front of the cabin I almost felt like I was camping, but with all of the luxuries. The room boasted luxury linens, fresh flowers and soft 100% cotton mosquito nets hand-tied to the frames dangling over the beds in each room. The bathroom was a true delight with a rainfall shower and granite sink. Aluminium battery operated lanterns for use in the case of a power cut were a nice touch and the ornaments decorating the rooms were picked up by the owners during their own travels throughout Africa. Colourful robes made by local craftswomen are laid out for use.
Fortunately for us during our stay, New Zealanders Cam McLeay (the owner), and his brother Brad who built the lodge with the help of approximately 150 locals, both happened to be in residence. The brothers also own and run ADRIFT, a white water rafting and bungee jumping activities centre on the Nile. We listened with delight to the tale of how the brothers rafted past the island on more than one occasion in the 1990’s and then had the idea to build the lodge. It was no small task getting the building materials from the mainland to the island across the rapids. This was done by boat and a pulley system which still exists and can be seen in all its glory when walking around the island.
The lodge is staffed by locals from the neighbouring villages. Polite and professional the staff anticipate every need without being overbearing. Brad explained that the reward for “employee of the month” (nominated by guests) is lunch at the lodge for the employee and his/her entire family, catered to by all of his/her colleagues. The lodge has brought much income to the area. Fruit, veg, meat and chicken is all bought from the neighbouring farms, and local fishermen will serve as guides if you fancy baiting a line!
Should you ever travel to Uganda, Kalagala Island is only 1.5hrs drive from Kampala and offers welcome peace and tranquility away from the city!
For families ask for the Victoria room, it's on 2 floors.
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC