Getting There and Back Home: Bus, Shared Taxi and Special Hire
I’m back to share another perfect holiday home, getaway spot that has my heart! The Observatory. To get to the Observatory, you can either drive yourself, or take a bus heading to Mbarara road. We set off to Mbarara, with the morning bus called Trinity. In Mbarara, we found a shared taxi that would take us to the Ndekye stage at 8000Ugx. There are no buses from Mbarara to Katara, and we preferred the comfort of a shared taxi to the regular matatus (that seemed overloaded).
We were the first passengers to sit in the shared taxi that agreed to take us to Ndekye and our driver tried to get more passengers. For now, we were sitting really comfortably, anticipating our arrival to Ndekye stage soon, to meet our driver Richard.
He suddenly got fed up of trying to fill the car, packed on the side of the road, to get the 5 of us a matatu.
Tip:In the shared taxi, you can pay extra for two seats for comfort.
This experience showed us the differences in kinds of transport; bus, private car, matatu, shared taxi and special hire. At Ndekye we met Richard, who drove us to the Observatory, which was 20 minutes away (about 3 kilometers)
After our 7 hour adventure on the road, it felt rewarding to arrive to these stunning views. The Observatory sits on the Kichwamba escarpment overlooking Queen Elizabeth National Park. It enjoys views of the northern rift valley on 11 acres of land, at an elevation of 3400 feet.
We were warmly welcomed by Prisca and Grace, who gave us a brief tour of the house and showed us to our rooms. This cottage styled house, was going to be our home for two nights.
There are four bedrooms, which comfortably accommodate 8 people. On the ground floor, there are two bedrooms each with twin beds and a shared bathroom. I enjoyed a hot shower with good pressure as their which is heated by solar and wood.
Upstairs are bunk beds, next to a well-designed large living room with different traveler bits and pieces. Extra blankets for colder nights are available, as it can get cold on some nights. There is a large table where you can work.
The observatory comfortably accommodates 10 people max and bookings are strictly on reservation. This guarantees that if you and your family book here for the weekend, you have the whole place to yourselves. As the perfect holiday home, it has uniquely designed aspects with personal touches of a traveler. Sitting on the patio downstairs, one could easily be transported to an Italian summer, with views of Lake Nyamusingire, Edward and George.
Food- Just The way you like it!
The Observatory is a self-catering holiday home, with a fully equipped kitchen where guests are encouraged to bring their own supplies to make their meals as they like. For dinner, we made rice, matooke and ground nuts sauce.
For breakfast the next day, we prepared toast, eggs and freshly squeezed orange and watermelon juice. By now it was easy to find our way around the house.
The Observatory has a small garden that is managed by Grace, where they plant coffee and mangoes. The kitchen store is also stalked with the basics like salt, sugar, tea bags, coffee, salt and other seasonings. There are 6 full-time staff that maintain the house, and one available to help run errands to the market, should you need to buy some fresh vegetables from the local markets nearby. A cook can also be available on request to prepare breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Fun Things To Do:
Chimpanzee tracking At Kyambura Gorge
Close by, is the Kyambura Gorge where you can go chimpanzee tracking, after securing a permit from the Uganda Wild life authority. The permit is valid for 24 hours and you are permitted to return the next day if you don’t find the chimpanzees on day one.
Walks around the close villages are available on request.
Hike Around the Rift Valley for Epic Views
After our delicious breakfast, we were ready for the hour hike up to Rumiri. We walked through matooke, sorghum and coffee plantations, up the steep hills. This was a happy reminder of how rich and fertile Ugandan soils are. We managed to pick some fresh mangoes for the children along the way.
Once at the top, we were rewarded with views of two crater lakes. We came at the perfect time, as this was the dry season (July to August) and avoided the rainy muddy season; September to December.
In the evening we managed to watch the sun set and star filled sky at night. There is a telescope set at the upstairs balcony, for you to gaze at the stars all night. After our hike, I dashed to the upper balcony, to relax my sore muscles in the Jacuzzi, while taking in the sunset.
Swimming Pool and Fire place
A fitting addition to the Observatory will be the swimming pool should be open before the end of the year. This will be in a separate house below the main house, I also learned from the manager Grace that this area will have a fire place and massage parlor upstairs. I can’t wait to visit again with some friends.
The Observatory left me feeling relaxed, recharged and appreciative for its distinction from other lodges I visit. The unique views and coziness here are why I was sad to leave and see myself planning a trip back soon!
For more views, watch the YouTube Video 🙂
Photos By: Shot By Mu
Have a great weekend,