IT is almost Easter time and many people are contemplating how to spend the festive season.
Raphael Okello takes you through the different options where one can have a memorable holiday.
THE ISLAND RETREATS
A streak of powdery white sand stole my view from an extensive thick forest cover as Kalangala (the boat ferry) handed me my very first sight of Bugala Island, the biggest and most developed of Sseseâ€™s 84 islands. It was a distant sight.
But as we approached Bugala, the sweeping views of what looked like a strip of sand came in full view.
Birds perched on boats that had been deserted by the beach or rocking in the lake. On the beach lay a handful of guests under grass shades.
Six well-appointed resorts may not seem bountiful to choose from, but they are sufficient â€“ Ssese Island Beach Hotel, Palm Beach Resort, Ssese Islands Club, Mirembe resort Beach and Ssese Pearl Gardens.
Accommodation can be acquired from as low as sh30,000 per night to sh100,000, depending on which resort you choose to spend the weekend. It takes three hours to get to Ssese by boat ferry (sh10,000 and sh20,000) from Nakiwogo-Entebbe.
The boat leaves at 2:00pm daily. The other option is to drive to Masaka and use the Bukakata ferry, but that is a horrendous journey you might want to avoid.
SAMUKA is marketed as an island bird sanctuary. This impression becomes a permanent imprint in the mind when you actually take a 45-minute boat ride (sh8,000 per person) from Rumours at The Source of the Nile in Jinja to this 12-acre island.
It is a small world of unspoiled natural beauty where man and birds have created a home in the islandâ€™s peaceful and isolated confines.
There are over 50 species of migratory and resident birds on the island, which is now one of few known breeding sites for long-tailed cormorants and cattle egrets.
With almost every branch of a tree having a nest, the quiet of the island is constantly under siege by the raucous bird calls â€“ it is an inconveniencing beauty.
Family and Deluxe cottages cost between $30 to $45 per night (bed and breakfast). Children between three and 12 years sharing with parents pay 50% of the applicable rate per person sharing. Meals cost anywhere between sh5,000 to sh15,000.
RUGGED hills, open grasslands, 6km of sandy beaches and 10km of shoreline, gentle cliffs, rock outcrops and tropical forests are part of the genetic make-up of Bulagoâ€™s beautiful terrain. And a small luxury lodge, with seven cottages, was established to provide a focus for a weekend holiday, leisure and water sport activities on this paradise island.
It is the most luxurious island retreat you will come across in Lake Victoria, which means you have to dig deeper in your pockets to spend the weekend.
Some of the private residences on the island may also be offered to guests if the lodge is full. Accommodation costs $89 per night, including bed and breakfast.
You can get there by air (10 minutes) from Kampala Aeroclub and Flight Training Centre, Kajjansi or by a speed boat (45 minutes to one hour) from Garuga or Munyonyo.
LAKE AND RIVERSIDE RETREATS
Jinja Nile Resort
OUTSIDE and beneath the green valley, the River Nile waters gently flow to the ocean like a dream.
The humming sound of the flowing river, filling one of the apartments at Jinja Nile Resort (3km from Jinja town), is an irresistible joy.
The quietness in the room is a compelling human sensation you can ever ask of a holiday, but a holiday that does not come cheap.
Apartments for two people cost anywhere between sh250,000 to sh800,000 for one to three nights. River-Nile-facing apartments cost more. There is a swimming pool, gym and sauna.
Outdoor games like lawn tennis are also provided. Unrivalled for its class, services and location, the resort is an icon of a holiday that grafts comfort, luxury and spell-binding water excursions.
The section that was previously consumed by a fire is soon to be opened and is as spanking as any four-star resort can get.
UGANDA in her entirety is truly gifted by nature, but Lake Bunyonyi and its surrounding area in Kabale remain one of natureâ€™s most beautiful gifts to this country.
Because of its popularity, it has over the years received a lot of media attention and countless guests; some people think it is a spent force.
But the islandâ€™s pristine beauty and tranquillity remain stored in the undulating cultivated green hills, lush island jewels strewn in the lake and panoramic views of Mt. Rwenzori.
You can choose where to stay from a number of resorts hanging on the hills that overlook the lake. Lake Bunyonyi Overland Camp, the first to be built in the area, provides a variety of accommodation options.
But other alternative accommodation areas have since emerged â€“ Bunyonyi Overland Hotel, (top of the hill) and Bushara Island.
IF there is any such thing as a budget lakeside retreat, then it would have to be Nabinoonya beach, for as low as sh30,000, you can spend a night.
There is hardly any sand at the shores of the lake, but the beauty of this place is in the large botanical gardens, teeming with birds and mischievous monkeys.
King Fisher Safari Resort
KING Fisher Resort, 9km from Jinja town, is built like an African village with accommodation units fashioned like typical African huts.
Each of them has a spectacular view of the nearby Lake Victoria. There are six double rooms (sh100,000 per night), four family units (sh130,000 per night) that can accommodate two adults and two children below 16 years.
Kampala Serena Hotel, Nile Avenue
KAMPAA, like most metropolitan cities, has a notorious reputation for noise, intense activity and in Kampalaâ€™s case, dust.
But in the newly built Serena Hotel, is a quiet residence that seems to have been cloned from the beauty of the untamed wilderness and opulence of the modern. The 152-room world-class hotelâ€™s architectural inspiration is said to have been drawn from Ugandaâ€™s rivers, lakes and vegetation.
That is why the hotel is styled around a central water theme, which manifests itself in the flowery gardens, pillars and waterfalls.
Royal Impala Hotel, Munyonyo
LOCATED on Kabaka Mwangaâ€™s Hill, one kilometre off the shores of Lake Victoria in Munyonyo, Royal Impala Hotel has the setting and mood that will connect you with its rural environment.
This little known hotel has ornamental fish species swimming in its rocky ponds. Its neatly trimmed garden is filled with exotic orchids, acacia trees, hanging baskets of wild ferns and flowering shrubs.
Rooms for two go for sh80,000 per night, suites cost sh90,000 and apartments sh150,000. A buffet meal, with the exception of breakfast, will cost you sh14,000.
Forest cottages, Naguru Hill
IT is not very often that one would be as complimentary to use the words tranquil and green about a place, 15 minutesâ€™ drive from Kampalaâ€™s city centre. But Forest Cottages, located on Naguru Hill, is like an oasis.
This is one of the few places in town that you will spend most of the day enjoying a forested surrounding and absorbing scenery.
Even during high temperatures of the day, the green gardens, awash with tropical flowers, remain calm and breezy. In case one needs a dip, there is a swimming pool.
Options for your Easter holidays