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Kyaninga Lodge – the dancing, running (and relaxing!) lodge

Nov 19 • 3920 views • 11 Comments on Kyaninga Lodge – the dancing, running (and relaxing!) lodge Lodge and hotel reviews, Uganda

Kyaninga Lodge‘s breathtaking views

Since the recent launch of the Disney film ‘Queen of Katwe,’ Ugandans have been discussing how we can attract the film industry to film in Uganda. I first visited Kyaninga Lodge in 2011. Since then I’ve been unable to picture the lodge without imagining James Bond parachuting down into the crater lake below the lodge and jet-skiing across it! Kyaninga Lodge is unique. Read my review and you’ll quickly see why!

Kyaninga Lodge, near Fort Portal – early morning view of the crater lake from my cottage from @CharlieBeau Diary of a Muzungu on Vimeo.

What is so special about Kyaninga Lodge?

Stunning view? CHECK!


Early morning mist hides the crater lake from view. At one point, all I could see was the peak of the volcanic ash cone poking through the mist. In the distance are the Rwenzori Mountains

Helipad? CHECK!


There’s plenty of room for you to bring your helicopter!

Well-stocked bar serving the muzungu’s favourite tipple? CHECK!


Kyaninga Lodge has a very well-stocked bar and sells some high quality crafts, such as the unique bicycle and truck bottle-holders displayed on the wall behind me. The profits from craft sales go to the Kyaninga Child Development Centre.

Swimming pool with ridiculously gorgeous view? CHECK!


As soon as we saw the swimming pool, we wanted to jump straight in! ‘Strictly no diving and no jumping’ – from the upper veranda – says the sign…

Superb food? CHECK!


Perfect – roast beef with mashed potato


Full English breakfast is a must when you plan to walk around the lake!


Morning tea on the balcony of Kyaninga Lodge outside Fort Portal

Fab company? CHECK!

Driving to Kyaninga Lodge from Kampala

Despite a warning that we might find the dirt road from outside Fort Portal to the Lodge to be tricky driving in the rainy season, we had no problem. We didn’t even need to engage the four-wheel drive. The 20 minute drive on dirt roads show scenes of rural Ugandan life at its most picturesque.

Richard gave us a lovely welcome upon arrival. The keys to each cottage come in a tiny cloth bag, complete with your own personal mobile phone for the duration of your stay. The main lodge living area, lodge manager and all the rooms have their own phone number which are already keyed into the phone. What a great idea.

About Kyaninga Lodge – geography

The view from the lodge shifts and changes constantly thanks to the combination of the Rwenzori Mountains (seen in the distance) and the deep water of the lake. At times the mountains are clearly visible, sometimes they are obscured by cloud; in the early morning, mist lies in the valleys. It’s breathtakingly beautiful.

Over time, two volcanic craters have come together to form one of the deepest crater lakes in Uganda. The lake plunges a formidable 224 metres into the earth. Although water of this depth should be very cold, thanks to the semi-active properties of these craters the water is a comfortable temperature for swimming.

According to the lodge’s owner and designer Steve, “the lake is warming up. They have been measuring the temperature for the last 25 years and it is due to erupt again in 10,000 years!”

The lake water has a very high mineral content which stops the formation of any algae. This, and the fact that the lake has no shallows because of its deep sides, keeps the lake Bilharzia-free. Kyaninga is therefore one of the very few Ugandan lakes that is safe to swim in. A path leads from the lodge to steps that take you down to a floating jetty at the water’s edge.

Kyaninga Lodge – cottages


Early morning view from my cottage at Kyaninga Lodge. Every cottage looks onto the crater lake

Each self-contained cottage is a little walk from all the others, meaning you have total privacy. Each cottage overlooks the crater lake and has a spectacular view of the Rwenzori’s. Every cottage has a wide self-contained veranda; no-one else can see you. Using your nifty little mobile phone, it’s possible to call for drinks to be served on your deck.

Thanks to its wooden construction, in and out, the lodge has a strong Alpine feel to it, although Steve told us he had never been inside a log cabin before he designed and built Kyaninga!

It’s wonderful to see how the lodge’s trees and beautifully landscaped gardens have matured. There is constant birdsong all day, always a healthy sign for the environment. In the valley to one side of the lodge is rumoured to be Uganda’s only lawn tennis court, which also doubles as a badminton court. Lodge guests can also play croquet and boules.


Paul relaxes on the walkway between the cottages and main building. The wooden walkways are well lit and have been treated so they are not slippery when wet

The Wi-Fi works well in the main lodge building and the rooms have three power points, so you’re well equipped for power. Helpfully, each room has an umbrella that you can use when moving between your room and the main building

Kyaninga Lodge cottage bedroom

Each of the huge Kyaninga Lodge cottage bedrooms has its own veranda and private view

Kyaninga Lodge is a labour of love and took six years to build. The timber (Eucalyptus and Elgon Olive) are found locally, as is the Semliki variety of grass, used for thatching.

Interesting fact: “Kyaninga Lodge is equipped with six fire hoses each capable of sending a jet of water over the top of the cabin or the main lodge building. The fire hoses are connected to a pump that is in turn connected to the swimming pool, meaning we have approximately 120,000 litres of water available – which should be plenty!”

The swimming pool itself is carved out of the rock face.

lighting fire Kyaninga Lodge living area

Lighting the open fire at Kyaninga Lodge – a welcoming start to the evening

The main lodge building sits at the summit of one of the area’s famous rolling hills. The individual cottages hug the brow of the hill and slope down to either side of the main building in an equilateral pattern. The high ceilings and bare wood give a feeling of space. I imagine it might get chilly here but every evening, around sunset, the open fireplace is lit as guests congregate for pre-dinner drinks.

In addition to the main dining area, guests can choose to dine privately in one of the upstairs galleries.

What can you do at Kyaninga Lodge?

There’s a long list of complimentary activities:

  • – Swimming in the lodge pool.
  • – Lawn tennis, badminton, croquet and boules (lodge guests can borrow tennis balls and rackets from the Lodge).
  • – Crater rim walk
  • – Two private terraces below the swimming pool are perfect for a sundowner. One of the terraces even has a small fireplace.
  • – Birdwatching
  • – Swimming in the crater lake
  • – Village and cultural walk
  • – Forest walk inside the crater for a good chance of seeing monkeys and forest birds and the chance to peer inside a bat cave!

Kyaninga Lodge, crater rim walk

On our first morning, we set off on a circumnavigation of the crater lake ‘the crater rim walk’ below the lodge. We took our time, stopping every few minutes for photographs, admiring Kyaninga from different angles as we passed through fields of crops. The farmers told us of the crops they were planting: Irish potatoes, beans, cassava and yam. We saw fabulous birds including Cinnamon-chested Beeeaters, a male black and white Pin-tailed Wydah bird (complete with its long breeding plumage), an African Open-billed stork and a striking black and red Ross’s Turaco. The walk took us around two hours.

A spot of birdwatching – before breakfast

On our second morning, we’d arranged for one of the lodge staff to take us on a short birdwatching walk in the grounds of the lodge. I’m so glad we got up early and had a chance to catch the magical sight of the mist over the lake. The birdwatching was a bonus!

Birds we spotted included: Baglafect Weaver, Copper sunbird, Black-crowned Tchagra, Fan-tailed Widowbird, White-browed Robinchat, African Fish Eagle, Red-billed Firefinch, Tawny flanked Prinia.

African Firefinch “like posho” said our guide. “You often see them congregating outside houses where people are washing their plates.”

We listened to two different types of monkey: the Vervet and the black-and-white Colobus, who were chattering and communicating with each other from different sides of the lake. The guide told us that baby Colobus are born with white fur.

He also explained the medicinal uses of the Omunyara tree and the ‘Five-fingered leaf plant.’

More activities at Kyaninga Lodge

There are a range of massages and beauty treatments available.

To explore the area further, the lodge can organise:

  • – Walks in the Great Rift Valley – at the edge of the escarpment you can see the vast expanse which is the convergence of the Congo basin and the great rift Valley.
  • – Mountain biking to Semliki Lodge.
  • – Kyaninga Lodge is a convenient base for exploring Kibale Forest, Semliki, Queen Elizabeth and the Rwenzori Mountains.
  • – Visit Toro Botanical Gardens in Fort Portal and the Toro Golf Club, a nine-hole golf course which is open to non-members.

Can you ballroom dance? Would you like lessons from a pro?

Get your dancing shoes on for traditional ballroom dancing at Kyaninga Lodge! You can even have lessons from a former Ballroom Dancing Champion! *The second ‘So Kyaninga can dance’ will be held May 13th 2017. The inaugural first-of-its-kind event was held on Saturday November 26th 2016 in aid of a very special cause… fundraising for the Kyaninga Child Development Centre near Fort Portal. The event was held on Kyaninga Lodge‘s brand new purpose-built dancefloor. (See photos above of the dancefloor being built). The KCDC supports children with disabilities “helping all children reach their full life potential.” It’s a great cause. All details are on the leaflet here.

So Kyaninga can dance May 13th 2017

‘So Kyaninga can dance’ to be held at Kyaninga Lodge, May 13th 2017

To book tickets for “So Kyaninga Can Dance” or to enquire about lodge availability, email or call +256 772 999750. Like the Kyaninga Lodge Facebook page for regular updates.

Can you run? Swim? Cycle?

Another popular event held at Kyaninga Lodge is the Kyaninga Triathlon. Registration details are on the web site Kyaninga Triathlon web site.

kyaninga-triathlon-swimming-crater-lake PHOTO Olive Nakiyemba

Triathlon competitors prepare to swim in Kyaninga’s crater lake. PHOTO Olive Nakiyemba

The inaugural Running the Rift Marathon was held in 2016 with another planned for 2017.

Before I sign off…

To book tickets for “So Kyaninga Can Dance” or to enquire about lodge availability, email or call +256 772 999750. Like the Kyaninga Lodge Facebook page for regular updates.

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11 Responses to Kyaninga Lodge – the dancing, running (and relaxing!) lodge

  1. matata m. says:

    Nagawa, This place looks beautiful and fantastic and the food looks very delicious.
    I hope i will one day visit this place
    Matata M.

  2. Les Lloyd says:

    Excellent description! It would be interesting to know how the temperature of the lake has changed over the past 25 years. What is the temperature now? Les.

    • the muzungu says:

      Thanks Les! I’ll have to ask the lodge owner Steve. He did say the temperature is being monitored…
      I took the steep walk down from the lodge to the lake and stood on the edge of the pontoon. I had planned to swim but I got the heebie-jeebies at the last moment and decided I didn’t want to swim with all those murky depths below! I wish I had now!

    • Steve says:

      Hi Les,

      The lake is 22 degrees most of the year, extremely clear and very special to swim in.

  3. David says:

    I grew up in Loverrrrrly Uganda and now I fester in London;
    SO WRONG!!!!!!!

    I know whence mine beating heart is tethered.

    Webale nnyo aka blog, mwana wafe, Nagawa…….

  4. tukie says:

    It looks wonderful, would like to go there!

  5. […] crater lakes such as Lake Bunyonyi, in the far south west of Uganda,  and Lake Kyaninga near Fort Portal are Bilharzia-free as […]

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