My husband, adult daughter and I thank Paraa Lodge, Chobe Lodge and Kabiza Wilderness Safaris for our recent "once in a lifetime" experience in Murchison Falls National Park. Each contributed to our experiencing to the fullest, all that this extraordinary Park has to offer. We hope our comments may assist others in planning:
We write this “open letter of thanks” to all of the Staff, Management and Owners of Chobe and Paraa Safari Lodges, and to Jon Blanc and Geoffrey Mugambwa of Kabiza Wilderness Safaris, for an absolutely marvellous 4-day safari to Uganda’s Murchison National Park over Christmas 2012, which absolutely met, and exceeded, our expectations after almost a year in planning! To put our comments into context: We are Canadians with a passion for nature. I am a 60-year-old lawyer, my husband the same age and an investment and insurance broker/agent, our daughter a BSc graduate working as a contract analyst. We have travelled widely throughout the world, and have stayed in outstanding accommodations (Fairmont hotels and resorts, Starwood hotels and resorts, “boutique” resorts recommended by Rick Steeves) in many beautiful places.
The planning by Kabiza was outstanding in every respect, and the plans were carried out flawlessly! Jon Blanc, in the planning of these four days many months beforehand, and Geoffrey Mugambwa, in his constant care of us throughout the safari, really did everything possible to make this one of the most memorable experiences of our lives! I had written to Jon beforehand, about what we hoped to experience, and his planning and the trip itself were highly responsive – including with respect to our choice of accommodation at Paraa to which Jon added the recommendation of a night at Chobe. The best use was made of every moment of the trip, with every possible need anticipated and attended to. The cost of the flights, the cost and difficulty of arrangements for my handicapped daughter's care while we were away - all was worthwhile even had we travelled to Africa for purposes of the safari alone. At the same time, given how busy wedding events in Kampala kept us (kwanjula on 22nd, civil wedding on 29th, and numerous related events etc.) we really benefited in body, mind and soul, from our time in the Ugandan wilderness!
I learned about Chobe and Paraa Lodges from the Internet, and heard very positive feedback from friends who had visited there, and from fellow travellers on another trip who had also stayed there. Both lodges were strongly endorsed by Kabiza Wilderness Safaris, when we sought Kabiza’s advice.
Accommodations at Chobe and Paraa Lodges were quiet and lovely, clean and restful and comfortable given our very busy two-week schedule in Africa and at home before and after our trip. Pleasantly and with tastefully understated elegance, each of these unique lodges fits in with the spectacular surrounding natural beauty of Murchison Falls National Park – each overlooking the Nile River with indescribable views. Beds were comfortable, bedding and linens of good quality, and bathrooms very clean, rooms very attractive and well-kept. Food at the both lodges, and at the Masindi Hotel on the way back to Kampala, was also absolutely first-rate. Employees of Chobe and Paraa Lodges were outstandingly pleasant, welcoming and accommodating in every respect. They know how to deal with tourists from afar! It would have been easy to have spent another night or two in the "luxury tents" at Chobe (on the upper level to the left of the main building as one approaches the latter) where we could hear the rapids and hippos all night long and also have fresh air. In this regard we thank Kabiza for its recommendations and organization. Unfortunately, our short trip to Africa did not allow this additional time! Our 24-year-old daughter felt very safe and content on her own in her tent, next to ours - although I had expected I might need to share with her! Nature walk as sunset approached, with the Ranger George, was lovely and informative, and coming from cold wintry Canada it was also an exceptional experience to relax at the pool and on the dining terrace so close to, and with such spectacular views of, the Nile River. Accommodations were similarly pleasant at Paraa, where Kabiza had thoughtfully booked two adjacent rooms at the far end on the second story of the row extending to the left as you enter the main building. We could still see the river from the balconies, and it was very quiet. Kabiza’s recommendation that we not bother with air conditioning, in favour of ceiling fans, was a good one: It was comfortable sleeping under the ceiling fans in the quiet rooms. The food in both lodges was astonishingly superb, for such relatively small lodges in such remote locations! There was absolutely nothing more one could have desired, whether in the natural and unspoiled beauty of the location, atmosphere/ambiance, comfort, food, services.
Kabiza’s recommendation that we use the drive from Chobe to Paraa as a "game drive" was also an excellent one. It was a thrilling experience to drive for four hours, through such stunning landscape, seeing a multitude of animals and variety of landscapes at every turn, and meeting only I think about two other vehicles - apart from which we saw no one until quite close to Paraa! Geoffrey is of course an outstanding safari guide as well as driver, and gave us a wealth of information about the animals, the vegetation and the geography. Rain and thunderstorms kept us indoors that evening but Paraa is a pleasant place to relax and talk about one's ongoing adventure! Christmas Day - from 5:00 am to 8:00 pm - was a day to remember for sure. We had spectacular game drives in the morning and late afternoon/early evening, driving down to and around the delta area. Obviously it was quite something, for us, to be able to see the famous Victoria and Albert branches of the Nile as they meet at the top of Lake Albert and with the hills in the background across the water. Even more exciting was the sight of two lions, resting on the grass near the river, close to one elephant (with others across the trail) and deer (Jackson Heartbeast) also quite close to the lions - quite a scene! On the two drives on Christmas Day, we were joined by Ranger Sarah, who was extremely informative and very helpful in supporting Geoffrey as a guide. She was able to assist in locating the wildlife we only dreamed of seeing, and she gave so much information about the behaviour of the animals, and about the vegetation. We felt privileged to have been able to have experienced both sunrise, and sunset with the moon coming up, in this stunning environment. Our trip up the Nile to the base of Murchison Falls during the afternoon of Christmas Day, was also an unforgettable experience, and an opportunity to see so much more wildlife! The "African Queen" was very clean and comfortable, and the staff very helpful. Boxing Day's drive to Murchison Falls, and our time there, was equally memorable. There were so many different spectacular views of the Falls, and we were sorry to leave. Geoffrey made the best of the long drive home, too, taking us through the forested area of Budongo I believe. He was kind enough to lend his "sim" card to my daughter, so that she might copy photos he had taken with his own camera including numerous photos of the three of us - for which we are particularly grateful since we had purchased new equipment the day before travelling to Africa and we had a hard time figuring out how to use it properly! He took some wonderful pictures of all the highlights of the safari. It is obvious that he knows and loves the natural beauty of his own country!
We felt that the cost was very reasonable, for such individual planning and attention, for such a full and rich itinerary, and for the lovely accommodations. We are glad that we had the opportunity to have had an individual safari, for we were able to maximize viewing opportunities - and there's so much to see!
We know, realistically, that this may well have been our only opportunity to visit Africa and if that turns out to be the case, we are certainly lucky that we were able to have this experience in Uganda, and that our son and daughter-in-law had told us about Kabiza! The Kabiza website also certainly appropriately engendered well-placed confidence and left us so well-informed about all aspects of Uganda that we were really as well-prepared as any North Americans or Europeans could have been. We are also very grateful, that friends, and fellow travellers, told us about Paraa and about Chobe! We do hope that circumstances might permit our return in the not too distant future, and that we might be able to be accompanied by other family and friends. If such a trip may be again possible, we will certainly be in touch with Kabiza again, with a view to planning, once again, such a rewarding experience individually tailored to our situation and interests – but a longer safari, hopefully. Furthermore, we will return to Chobe, and to Paraa, and will plan to visit the third “sister” property which we understand to be in Queen Elizabeth Park.
I should add, that our son and (now) daughter-in-law were very happy with their more modestly priced safari two years ago, and that our son, his friend and his mother were similarly delighted with their safari in December 2012 prior to our trip. Thus, as noted, ours was the third wonderful safari planned and carried out by Kabiza.
From cold and wintry (but pleasant) Napanee, Ontario, Canada - rather missing the Ugandan sun!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Established in 1954, Paraa Safari Lodge is located in northwest Uganda in Murchison Falls National Park overlooking one of nature's best kept secrets, the River Nile. Paraa Safari Lodge offers a unique blend of comfort, relaxation and adventure. Each of the rooms is a haven of style and serenity, complete with balcony and private bathroom. The safari decor of the lodges still reflects the bygone era of early explorers, enshrined with a modern touch. The luxurious pool overlooks the winding River Nile below, which was the setting for the classic Hollywood move, The African Queen". ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Paraa Safari Hotel Murchison Falls National Park
- Paraa Safari Lodge Uganda/Murchison Falls National Park