Nestled on the banks of the world’s largest tropical lake, I discover one of Uganda’s best hotels: the Lake Victoria Serena Golf Resort & Spa.
We check in after a dusty journey from Jinja, where Lake Victoria meets the source of the River Nile. A fresh fruit juice and a cool napkin are just the ticket before settling into our opulent room with its walk-in shower, TV and enormous bed. The balcony looks out onto the expanse of water below, foregrounded by acacia trees and the pristine golf course.
Settling into the rhythm of life in the resort, I swim a few laps in the pool before lazing at the water’s edge with a pina colada. Made with fresh pineapples of course. A lifeguard treats my partner to a spontaneous swimming lesson (learning to swim in the world’s best resorts is really the only way).
This is just one example of the fantastic staff. Everyone we meet is courteous yet friendly – and particularly useful when we lose our way. The winding pathways, bridges and fountains of the Lake Victoria Serena Resort make it a joy to get lost in. And yes, we even had to ask for directions on our third and final day.
Before our first dinner, we fit in a quick visit to the gym and make use of the deserted sauna and steam rooms, with an ice-cold plunge pool to boot. Our table at the fine-dining restaurant, Lago, is strewn with rose petals and makes an intimate setting for a delicious dinner. The chef serves up a hearty steak for my partner and a creamy avocado pasta for me with the aptly named ‘Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate’ for dessert.
The food at the resort is a highlight with a hugely extensive breakfast buffet as well as chefs on hand to cook up anything your heart desires. The main restaurant, Citadel, offers a delicious Mongolian-style BBQ on the night we try it out, and we visit the Marina restaurant for seafood specialities twice during our stay.
After eating my weight in fresh fruit and homemade cakes for breakfast, the resort organises a bespoke expedition to nearby Ngambe Island. A virgin island of tropical trees, birds and insects, Ngambe is also home to 49 orphaned chimpanzees.
Just talking to the staff about the chimpanzee politics on the island has me fantasizing about an alternative life as Jane Goodall, the renowned primatologist. The chimps are so human-like in their interactions with one another and their cunning in stealing food! We are told that some chimps escaped into the human-only kitchen just the day before our visit. Part of me is quite sad to have missed the drama, but also relieved to have avoided a potential monkey attack.
After a tranquil ride to get to the island, the unpredictable Ugandan rainy season makes for a very bumpy journey back to the resort. I am heartened to be back in the cosy sheets of my huge bed for a nap as soon as I get back. The perks of Ugandan storms is that they tend to pass quickly, if aggressively, and I awake to glorious sunshine. As the warm sun sets, we enjoy grilled fish and salad by the water’s edge at the Marina restaurant.
Boarding my flight back to London, I feel both exhilarated from my adventures and rejuvenated from the pampering at the Lake Victoria Serena Resort. This is the perfect base from which to take boat expeditions to islands on the lake or to recuperate after a few nights on safari with a touch of luxury. The resort is renowned for its golf course and is a picturesque setting to try out golf for the first time. For the chimps, the pool and those views of the lake, this is one special East African resort.
For more information, visit serenahotels.com.