Located on the border of the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, a short walk from the gorilla trekking trails, Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge is an intimate, spectacularly positioned lodge which has won prestigious accolades for its design, luxury and all-round service excellence. Sitauted at a height of 2 000 meters, this is Uganda’s highest lodge, and also one of its most esteemed.
From the ridge it sits on, the lodge’s views are breath-taking, stretching out across dozens of lush hills towards the Virunga volcanic mountain range in the background. The volcanic stone cottages are beautifully decorated and luxurious, with a special feature being a double-sided fireplace which is lit every night by a personal attendant. Guests are optimally positioned for gorilla treks in the Bwindi Forest, and the stay can be given variety by partaking in community visits, Batwa tribe experiences, birding safaris, private dining and indulgent massages.
The Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is set on the eastern edge of the Albertine Rift Valley in the corner of southwest Uganda. It is a World Heritage Site covering an area of dense lowland forest, steep hills and deep valleys. It and has become famous for its population of 350 mountain gorillas – the largest number to be found anywhere in the world. The Nkuringo gorilla family home range is around a 1.5 hours hike away from Clouds Mountain, with the trek starting directly outside the lodge. There are an additional five habituated gorilla families that are about a 45 minute drive away.
The Bwindi Forest is one of the only forests to have survived the Pleistocene ice age, and has become a renowned biodiversity hotspot, harbouring 11 other primate species (including chimpanzees), elephants, forest antelope, around 350 bird species and over 200 species of dazzling butterflies. The thick vegetation of the park is broken up by sparkling lakes, waterfalls and the dramatic Virunga mountain range, which can be explored along several spectacular hiking trails traversing the extinct volcanic peaks.
The main lodge area features high ceilings with hefty wooden beams, cushy couches and colourful artwork from renowned local artists. Large picture windows frame spectacular views over the treetops and undulating hills, whilst the large fireplace keeps the two lounge areas and dining room nice and cosy. The main verandah is the perfect place to sit with a freshly brewed coffee, freshly squeezed orange juice or sundowner.
The lodge also has a small spa which offers a range of treatments and massages. If you can’t quite make a clean break from the realities of modern life, free wireless internet will keep you in touch with the outside world.
Accommodation consists of eight attractive cottages built from volcanic stone and thatch. Each cottage houses a very comfortable lounge that is warmed by a fireplace, while the interiors are also adorned with the colourful paintings of Uganda’s most respected artists. Five cottages come with double beds, while two have two bedrooms each, making them perfect for families or groups. The en-suite bathrooms come with deep baths and powerful showers. A wide verandah with sofas makes outdoor relaxation a pleasure.
Being a short walk from the Nkuringo trail, gorilla trekking is undoubtedly the star attraction of a stay at Clouds Mountain, and a variety of other primates and colourful birds will most likely be encountered along the way. Keen birders can arrange a specialist birding safari with an expert, trying to tick off as many of Bwindi’s 560 species as possible.
The lodge also offers visits to local villages, as well as eye-opening experiences with the Batwa Pygmies, who are the traditional keepers of the forest and have an inside-out knowledge of its intricacies.
When not out on activities, the lodge is a wonderfully relaxing place where guests can savour the beautiful views and be treated to smiling, attentive service from the lodge staff. The cuisine is just as impressive as the service, including a hearty continental and cooked breakfast, a fresh light and a wonderful three-course dinner prepared mostly with locally sourced ingredients. Couples celebrating quality time together can arrange private meals filled with romance.
With all of its comfort, character and remarkable activities, Clouds Mountain offers an extraordinary experience that will warm the hearts of everyone from nature lovers, to romantics, families and solace-seekers.