Set up in partnership with the African Wildlife Foundation, and managed in part by the Ugandan Safari Company, Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge is a cross-community initiative of the highest order. Located in Southern Uganda, in Bwindi National Park, in forests habituated by the Nkuringo people, it is one of the first lodges in the region with both the means and wherewithal to follow through recommendations made by the International Gorilla Conservation Programme. As such, it has quickly garnered a reputation for providing a service that is caring, innovative and far-sighted.
A family run business, and keen to add something extra to an area that is known more for its flora and fauna than it is for the level of accommodation on offer, Clouds is a large stone construct situated on Nteko Ridge. Surrounded by miles upon miles of afro-montane forest, the views are incredible.
The main lodge consists of a reception, lounge, dining area and balcony. Modern, but with a country house feel to it, the shared areas are both spacious and comfortable. The windows – multi-paned and large – allow for a great deal of natural light, and make the most of the views. French doors open out onto the balcony, the furniture – cream, sumptuous and low – is warm and comfortable, the walls are white and adorned with paintings commissioned from Ugandan artists. The overall feel, with only the giant rafters overhead, is one of great space. The cuisine is international and excellent, and the floor is headed up by Sipi, a head waiter and personal assistant known throughout Uganda for providing the highest standards of service.
There are 8 en-suite cottages at Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge – 2 of which have 2 bedrooms and would suit families or small groups. As with the main lodge, the cottages are beautifully positioned, and, in some of the rooms, the large double beds literally look out over the forested slopes. The bathrooms – double basins, European-style fittings and simple lines – are both functional and tasteful. The furniture is well-chosen, and the headboards are beautiful heavy pieces of what looks like reclaimed wood. While not luxurious, the rooms are lovely, and go some way towards setting a new benchmark standard in the area.
Activities at Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge include gorilla tracking, forest walks, bird watching and cultural visits. The local community is an important stakeholder in both the lodge and the forest, and has, through the Nkuringo Community Development Foundation, led the way in making the tracking the Nkuringo gorillas an enriching experience.