Ndali Lodge is perched on the rim of an extinct volcano which, since its demise, has filled with water to become the breathtaking Lake Nyinambuga 250 acres in size and 130 metres deep. There is a main thatched lodge with spacious sitting room, reception area and dinning room flanked by 8 cottages providing luxurious accommodation for 16 guests. The cottages, face west to offer a panoramic view to the spectacular 'Mountains of the Moon', were designed by Capt. Mark Price and are built of local stone and thatch. The interiors are imaginatively and comfortably furnished, the decor emphasising the using local materials.
Each cottage, large enough to accommodate a family, has en-suite facilities with bath, shower, WC and hand basin and a private verandah, perfect for watching the sun setting behind the rwenzori mountains, the snow-capped peaks of which are clearly visible on a clear day.
At night the dining room is festooned with candles - the lodge has no electricity or generators to destroy the tranquility and atmosphere. The sitting room, reception and dining room open out onto Lake Nyinambuga and are connected by two open passage-ways or breeze-ways.
Fruit bats, owls and frogs like to use them as a highway to the crater lake. Breakfast is on the verandah overlooking the lake: freshly squeezed passion fruit juice (from Ndali's vines when in season) and homemade bread with wild honey go down well with a full English breakfast. All Ndali's water comes directly from the lake, pumped up hydraulic ram based on technology invented in the 1770's.
Ndali Estate is owned privately by the Price/Sturdy families with a history in Uganda through their English grandfather, Major Trevor Price, since the 1920's. Travelling down from Cairo, Major Price's aim was to grow tea which was a scarcely developed crop in the country when he arrived, although he had heard that in the west there were ideal tea-growing conditions: plenty of sunshine, altitude, rainfall, and black volcanic soil.
He became one of the first to grow tea successfully in Uganda, developing a string of tea shambas north and south of Fort Portal (now the tea growing centre of Uganda), including Kiko and Rwetera. In the process he built roads, a school, a clinic and planted many African hardwoods. In the early 1960's he brought Ndali, but apart from some acres of tea and robusta coffee the land was left to grow wild. He developed a close relationship with the King of Toro (the Omukama) whose regalia he risked hiding after the suppression of the four hereditary kingdoms by President Milton Obote in 1967.
When all Asians and Europeans were expelled in the early 70's, Major Price was given permission by General Amin to stay on at his house at Rwetera ( a two-hour walk from Ndali), although his land - Rwetera and Ndali - had been confiscated. His house at Rwetera still stands today, surrounded by the rare conifers he brought over from Kenya. In 1991 the new government led by Museveni invited all dispossessed foreign landowners to reclaim their land. Major Price's son, Mark Price - who had spent four years in Uganda working with his father until the time of explusion - took up the invitation and began building Ndali Lodge in 1994 with moral and financial help of friends. Captain Mark Araali, as he was fondly known by the toro people, sadly died in September 1998. Since that time the lodge has been run by family and friends including his sister Caroline, his niece Lulu, who now runs the farm, his son Aubrey and Becky Holt the daughter of James, a close friend of Mark and a keen investor. Aubrey has now shed his pub in Edinburgh and has settled in Ndali permanently. He and Lulu are now the third generation of the Price/Sturdy family in the Fort-Portal area and it looks like theyre here to stay. Ndali Lodge was built using local materials and labour and designed by Mark Price to blend with landscape Using traditional rough-casting and spear-grass thatch. Light, space, simplicity and openness to nature are key qualities.
'My eyes were directed by a boy to a mountain, said to be covered with salt, and I saw a perculiar shaped cloud...which assumed the proportions and appearance of a vast mountain covered with snow. Following its form downward... I became for the first time conscious that what I gazed upon was not the image or semblance of a vast mountain, but solid substance of a real one, with its summit covered with snow... It now dawned upon me that this must be the Ruwenzori...'
HENRY STANLEY IN DARKEST AFRICA
Ndali Lodge astride the equator (0 - 291N, 301 - 62E) sits on a narrow ridge 1,524 (500ft) Above Sea Level with outstanding 360 degree views of ancient volcanic landscape, set against the backdrop of the Mountains of the Moon (Rwenzori Mountains). The area's rich black volcanic soil is amongst the most fertile in Africa producing diverse plants and herbs and a bewildering variety of crops from tea and coffee through pineapples, passion fruits, bananas, mangoes, avocado; to millet, sweet potato, cassava, sorghum, ground nuts, yams and hot chillies. All of these can be experienced first hand at the lodge.
Ndali is in the heart of Western Uganda's crater lake region; the Ndali volcanic field was formed some 11,000 years ago, possibly due to activity along the northern part of the Western Rift Valley - although local legend claims the lakes were made by the first Bachwezi King when he retired to the area after abdicating in favour of son. Many of the early explorers to the Rwenzoris remarked on the beauty of these volcanic foothills as they approached overland from Kampala.
Ndali Lodge is perfectly situated, can be reached in all weathers, and provides both a base to visit local historical and wildlife attractions, and an ideal stopping off place for parties moving from Queen Elizabeth National Park up to the famous Murchison Falls National Park; Queen Elizabeth is within 2 and a half hours drive. Kibale Forest National park, famous home of the largest concentration of chimpanzees in Africa, as well as a bewildering variety of other primates, birds and butterflies can be reached within 45 minutes. Also close by is the Bigodi wetland sanctuary, a community-based conservation project. Ndali provides local guides for walks around the 1000 acre farm, to the Mahoma Water fall, and a boat for relaxing contemplation of a large variety of birds, butterflies and primates. Walks will take you around crater rims, past alcohol brewing in oil drums, through banana plantations, coffee terraces, plots of cassava, groundnuts, sorghum and millet.
Below the lodge, on the lake itself, is a sturdy jetty, set in the most tranquil and secluded spot and frequented by 5 different species of Kingfisher. From here guests can swim in the lake, soak up the sun or simply get away from it all. Underway is the construction of a twin-hulled platform powered by electric, solar powered motors. An ideal way for guests to witness the fine array of wildlife comfortably and unobtrusively. THE perfect place. The lodge is a perfect place for a weekend retreat, to relax, recharge and watch the abundant flora and fauna a good selection of which can be seem from the verandas of both the lodge and the cottages. Ndali is a few kilometres from the heart of Uganda's tea growing region and historically has close links with Rwetera tea shamba (plantation) which can be reached by foot and is possible to visit by arrangement.
P.O. Box 70
Tel. +256 (0)772 221309, (0)772 487673
Ndali is approximately a 5-hour drive from Kampala. Local buses direct to Fort Portal leave throughout the day from Kampala bus station. From Fort Portal the lodge is a 25 minutes by taxi.
Directions from Fort Portal: Take road 11kms towards Kibale Forest, at Kisisi fork right. Stay on road for approximately 12kms until crossroads with sign to Ndali and Mbuga School on the left. Turn left to Ndali Lodge. Ndali can also be reached by air to Kasese with Eagle Aviation direct from Entebbe on Mondays and Fridays. From Kasese Ndali Lodge is a 40 minute drive.