Located in the border lands of north-eastern Uganda, in Kidepo National Park, and known for providing its guests with a luxurious and bona fide experience, Apoka is as far from so-called civilisation as one could possibly get.
Situated on a kopje, and built from mixed materials (wood, thatch and canvas), Apoka Lodge consists of a main house, a swimming pool and 10 rooms. Making the most of the kopje’s lower slopes for support and shade, the main house is a large, raised, open-plan construct, and the interior is divided into a lounge, dining area and bar. Overall, the style is largely European. A long and beautiful dining table runs adjacent to the lounge, which in the evenings is invariably dressed for a full silver service dinner. The furniture is low and comfortable.
Circular, raised and well-placed, the rooms of Apoka Lodge are fabulous. Built in the same style as the main lodge, each possesses the same dark wood flooring, thatch roofs and revealed frames. The walls – cream canvas – are broken up by well-placed windows. The en-suite bathrooms – double sinks, dressing table, tropical shower – are a joy. The beds, which are large and wonderfully comfortable, are locally made, as are the odd bits of furniture and the rugs. Each room has a verandah and an enormous outdoor tub, both of which overlook the bush. Everything about the rooms is beautifully restrained, the work of someone with exquisite taste.
Activities at Apoka Lodge include guided walks (a speciality in Kidepo), day and night drives, cultural visits and bird watching.
Wild Places is part of a group (originally called Green Wilderness Group) that has been operational in Uganda since 1992. Owned and operated by people with a true love for the country and a deep rooted commitment to the preservation of Uganda’s wild places, the business has grown slowly but steadily over the years. The group cut its teeth on Semliki Safari Lodge in the 1990′s and saved the Toro-Semliki Game Reserve from degazettement.
These efforts earned Wild Places a prize at the Investor of the Year awards for their contributions to conservation, and Jonathan Wright (our MD) was appointed to the board of trustees for the Uganda Wildlife Authority. He is still an ‘honorary warden’ . Working closely with both the Uganda Wildlife Authority and the University of Indiana, the group was instrumental in establishing and running a chimpanzee research project in the Reserve.
On the whole we strongly encourage Sustainable & Green Practices at our lodges for instance taking active measures to minimize waste, as well as use of water and electricity as well as educating visitors about how they can conserve the local environment. As much as possible our food is locally sourced, our staff at each lodge largely come from the surrounding communities, and we have established a number of projects with each of our properties in which the local communities are key stakeholders.
Virtually all the lodge staff come from the surrounding communities. We are assisting the local village, Karenga, with the construction of a village clinic which is in final stages. The funding for the clinic comes from Wildplaces as well as donors we have approached, and our guests who feel they want to contribute.
Further, we operate a small curio shop at the lodge, stocked almost entirely with items sourced from the local communities. The Karamojong have a strong tradition of beadwork, and women from the villages have made belts and jewelry for our guests.
We also offer excursions at a small fee from the lodge to the community and guests are entertained by folklore and traditional dances. This is authentic, not devised purely for the sake of tourism.