A night at the Speke Bay Lodge

Sunday November 9 2014

By Elisha Mayallah

We recently passed through the southeastern shore of Lake Victoria to explore all the alluring locations and facilities. There was just one spot on our list of places to go to that we had heard much about. This place was touted as a must go to place where many visitors in need of where to stay or break the journey, are said to visit. This is no other than the Speke Bay Lodge.

So we veered off the Musoma- Mwanza highway to find the Speke Bay Lodge, one of those better-known spots situated on Lake Victoria.

We didn’t have any expectations. What we’d seen in a write-up looked good, but as we’d learned in the week of travelling through the Lake Zone, someone else’s ideas and experiences are often vastly different from your own.

Aside from wanting to visit the Speke Bay Lodge, I had stumbled upon some enticing photos of the lodge. Based on those pictures alone, I thought that there was no way we could miss such a destination, regardless of the fact that it was only one of two reasons we would drive off the highway.

Yet, just as we arrived, Mr Elirehema Maturo from the Tanzania Tourist Board (TTB) proclaimed that this may be his best place so far to bring his family during the end-of-the-year holidays. On hand to meet us was Mr Jan Scholing, the manager.

We had visited many lodges on this trip and this one was possibly one of the best. It is not because of the structure or infrastructure and hence the ability to cater comfortably for everyone, but quite the opposite.

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It is small, basic and unassuming, relaxed and intimate in an undeniably satisfying setting. All the right things had been considered, but without affecting the ambiance of the lodge or compromising what makes for a great lodge.

Speke Bay is part of Speke Gulf, named after the famous explorer John Hanning Speke, who, in 1858, discovered Lake Victoria to be the source of the Nile.

Especially after hours of travelling, Speke Bay Lodge was a sanctuary. We took a leisurely break and stretch around touring the lodge’s sprawling area.

With a stretch of the Lake shore that’s entirely private with 12 bungalows and 12 permanent tent facilities situated in the flourishing lodge gardens, that’s virtually owned by the lodge. The tranquil here is superior.

Embraced by savannah, the Lodge looks like a small village, stretched out along the shores of the lake. We found ourselves in a lush, unique lodge, overlooking a striking beach, at a very restful and well thought out, garden-style lodge, with a bar and restaurant on the far end of the property, overlooking the lake.

The main buildings and luxury accommodation are round in form, built to perfection, painted white and thatched with grass in the traditional style of the Sukuma. The place is owned, built and run by a Dutch woman and two Dutch men. All the three live at the Lodge, ensuring constant supervision and maintenance of the lodge’s high standards.

Speke Bay Lodge is 15 kilometres from the Serengeti National Park. Proximity to an unsurpassable Serengeti has proved to be an advantage for the lodge owners, as the Speke Gulf and pristine beaches in the surroundings have made the lodge a place for everyone for every season.

For excursions in boats and local fishing – one can fish from the beach for Tilapia, enjoy the peacefulness, or wander around on the lodge’s 150 hectares of savannah, looking for birds.

There’s canoeing in which the lodge hires canoes from the fishing village, Mwabulugu. The lodge makes the locals as part of a visitor’s experience by outsourcing their facilities and hence creating a kind of partnership. A canoe trip starts around 9.30 am, so guests can take a leisurely breakfast. There is a possibility to meet fishermen bringing in their catch.

For those who like bikes, there are a few bicycles to paddle later in the afternoon as it gradually becomes cooler. The lodge’s guides can take guests out to spot some of the colourful birds in the surrounding savannah. For those who like to stay indoors a cup of hot chocolate is always readily available.

This grand lodge is a resort where intimacy and luxury go hand-in-hand. In the last hour of our visit. The best part was seeing the friendly staff who were immaculately dressed. Everyone, from the bartender to the receptionist will ask you as to when they would see you again, on your way out.

Email: elisha.mayallah@gmail.com

 

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