A few months back, my parents invited us to join them for a few days in Uganda. We packed our bags and hopped on a short forty-five minute flight to Entebbe. From there, they hired a driver to take us up to Jinja which was about a three hour ride through some of the most beautiful countryside.
My mom and dad visit East Africa throughout the year because of the work they do with Reach Youth Global. I look forward to sharing more about this organization later this week, they are changing lives around the world! One of their projects is a children’s village in Wakisi, just outside of the popular tourist town of Jinja. This place is special to me because I spent a year and a half living and working here in 2009. Because of that, I’ve gotten a front row seat at the beginning stages of this project to it’s current stage. I was really excited to bring my daughter along to introduce her to some of my friends in Uganda, and to meet the children who are calling Mashah Children’s Village home. It was an amazing couple of days seeing the work that Reach Youth Global is doing in Wakisi once again, and it was even more special because I was able to share the experience with my family.
While we were in Uganda, we stayed at a beautiful river lodge called The Haven.
This was my second time visiting The Haven, although it had been five years since my first stay. We only had two weeks of marriage under our belts back then. So, while I already knew The Haven was a romantic and peaceful escape for couples, I wasn’t sure what it would be like staying there with a toddler this time around. But guess what? It’s incredibly family friendly! And there is so much for kids to do. There’s a playground, a giant sandpit full of toys, soccer balls, a see-saw, volleyball and badminton, tire swings, and a ton of green space for kids to run and be free… let it suffice to say that Shiloh enjoyed her stay at The Haven very much!
There are several types of accommodation to choose from when staying at The Haven. Luxury bungalows, luxury bandas, family bungalows, and a campsite. In the past, we stayed in one of the luxury bungalows. It was cozy and refined. This last visit, we stayed in a family bungalow. It definitely had a different feel, but was perfect for our little family of three! My favorite part about both places we stayed was the front porch overlooking the river. In fact, the family bungalow had a hammock that Shiloh and I would sit in as the sun came up and watch a family of monkeys swinging in the trees just next to us!
The Haven overlooks Africa’s longest river, the Nile. And the views are incredible. Breath taking. Insanely gorgeous. The best part about whichever type of accommodation you choose the stay in is that you get a piece of the view.
You’d think after a day or so you’d get used to the beauty of the river, with the local fishermen casting their nets early in the morning, or the fish eagles soaring above the rapids, but you don’t. It never gets old. The sound of the water just adds to the feeling of relaxation. We spent every minute we could get while at The Haven facing the rushing river. Whether we were sitting on the porch of our bungalow or watching the sunrise from our bed each morning (the windows are huge and feel more like oversized picture frames), we took full advantage of The Haven’s perfectly situated position along the Nile. In fact, when we’d go down to the restaurant for our morning coffee, it was almost too hard to carry on a conversation. We were all content just taking in that beautiful view…
The staff at The Haven are very kind and professional. They helped us with anything we needed and were good about answering all of our questions. Several of the guys even remembered us from our first visit back in 2011!
The restaurant is really nice. There is a rotating menu each day with several options for you to choose from. They always have a vegetarian option, and were very good at accommodating our family’s gluten intolerance. If you are looking for an exceptional breakfast, come to this place! Fresh tropical fruit, crepes, eggs, toast, bacon and sausage… all topped off with french press coffee. I’m salivating just reminiscing about it!
There’s also a great seating area in the lobby which we enjoyed drinking afternoon tea in when the rains came. It usually rained every afternoon we were there for at least thirty minutes. There was a basket of toys for Shiloh to play with as well, which she enjoyed. All of the artwork and masks on the wall are for sale, along with a table full of other souvenirs not pictured. If you don’t get the chance to visit the shops in downtown Jinja, you can grab a few mementos here, otherwise it’s better to wait as the prices are negotiable in town.
If you’re up for an adventure, The Haven can help arrange all sorts of activities for you and your family. You can go fishing, bird watching, canoeing, mountain biking, swimming in the river (or their new pool!), go on a sunset cruise, visit a local village, go horseback riding, quad riding, rafting, kayaking, bungee jumping, or jet boating. Some of these are organized by outside companies and some are in house. Our family has tried rafting, horseback riding, and visiting the local village of Wakisi where Reach Youth Global works.
One of the other things I personally loved about The Haven is the way the owner, Rainer, put so much thought into the design. The entire lodge was made using local materials. It uses solar power and the lobby and restaurant building even collects the rainwater through a unique funnel design for reuse.
The only thing I can think of about our experience that was negative was the lack of internet. While it is advertised that there is reliable internet, we did not find that to be the case. Honestly, I normally wouldn’t mind. It’s nice to unplug every once and a while and reconnect with loved ones without cell phones and email getting in the way. But we had a bag missing when we arrived in Kampala and had a lot of difficulty sorting the whole thing out without the use of internet. With that being said, it wasn’t an issue that would keep us from visiting The Haven again! Besides, this is Africa! Who needs Facebook when you have views like this?