Touring Uganda: Chobe Safari Lodge

A few weeks ago I took a trip with my family to Murchison Falls National Park, in northern Uganda. We stayed at Paraa Safari Lodge for two days before heading to the newly renovated Chobe Safari Lodge, both managed by Marasa, of the Madhvani family.

Murchison Falls, by boat

The two lodges provided a very interesting contrast (while keeping ownership constant! errr…). Of course, there is far more to do around Paraa, including game drives and boat trips up to the foot of Murchison falls (do falls have feet?), and the lodge at Paraa is much more antiquated than the sparkling new Chobe. But the clientele is different as well. During the two days we spent at Paraa, the guests were almost exclusively European (many German, in fact). At Chobe, by contrast, a majority (by my eyeballed count) were Ugandan.

Pool at Chobe Lodge, overlooking the Nile

Why? There isn’t much in the way of a domestic tourism culture in Uganda, though park fees for East African citizens are a fraction of the cost for non-East Africans (though not explored here, developing domestic tourism is a topic that deserves a post of its own). So, my guess is that, since Paraa is quite far from any towns, it is not so cushy that one would go out of one’s way just for the ambiance of the lodge.  It is mainly a comfortable, rustic place to sleep and eat between game drives and boating.

By contrast, it seems that many guests of Chobe are visiting from Gulu or other nearby urban centers, and are visiting for conferences and meetings, not to see sight-see — although there are some lovely sights to see (just not many animals). You can never get tired, for example, of the breathtaking view of the Nile. The hotel grounds and dining areas are also quite beautiful, and the rooms are much more elegant than Paraa (bed firmness notwithstanding). In short, the newly renovated lodge is a very comfortable place for those with the cash (politicians and NGOs alike) to get away for a weekend retreat. Chobe today could be considered the “Serena of Gulu”, for those of you familiar with the patrons of the Kampala branch of that hotel (h/t Angelo).

Plush bar, Chobe Lodge

The ambiance and clientele of Chobe may change as time goes on, and as the lodge develops more activities (a golf course has been proposed, for example). But for now it is a peaceful, if pricey, place to recharge for a few days. And the staff are fantastic.

Chobe is a short distance from Karuma falls, and is about 4 hours from Kampala, on good roads almost all the way. I’m happy to provide more details or a more extensive review to anyone interested in visiting.

8 Replies to “Touring Uganda: Chobe Safari Lodge”

  1. Great post. I was checking constantly this blog and I am impressed!
    Very useful info specially the last part 🙂 I care for such
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  2. Hey, thx for the insight… You mention that Chobe is “pricey”. How much dent can it cause to a couple for a 3 nights weekend. How did u go about the bookings?

    1. Thank you for the official word of Group 2 s safe arirval! I had assumed from British Airways flight status although it kept saying flight departed even after posting the 6:06 updated arirval time! <:) High prayers for the ending of Group 1's experience and safe journey home and the beginning of Group 2's experience! Please hug Kate for me! Blessings to you all.xoxo Kate's Mom Mary

  3. Incredible photos. Looks and sondus like a great time!I think we missed your bday, Chris hope you had a good one! Since we didn’t get a blog about it I’m assuming it was a different kind of fun than Gill’s.

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