Lweza Forest Resort: Like a national park brought closer to the city

Every time it clocks midday on a Sunday, it becomes clear that the weekend is fast coming to an end. If you are like most, you start dreading the idea of beating two hours of traffic jam commuting to work tomorrow morning. The fact that you haven’t rested enough in such a long time doesn’t help matters. 

So you panic. You have to do something to unwind and the only thing that your soul yearns for is nature. Because when you live all your life in an unforgiving forest of concrete, glass and asphalt, both at home and at work, you are prone to start yearning for the simplicity of nature. 

Intuitively, most of us seem to sense that taking a walk in an actual forest with trees and flowers and bird song is good for us. It breaks the monotony of our insufferable daily lives. There is beauty and peace in spending time in a natural setting. Entering a forest is akin to returning home, where you reconnect with who you truly are, amongst those that reciprocate your love.  

There are studies that have showed that visiting a forest, even for five minutes, has quantifiable health benefits, both mental and physical. But in a place like the Greater Kampala Metropolitan Area (Kampala, Mukono, Wakiso and Mpigi Districts) where public parks seem to have been outlawed for political reasons, there is barely anywhere to go for residents. This, however, doesn’t take away the innate need for nature, and one prudent tourism professional has decided to turn that need into a business.


Lweza Forest Resort is a 14-acre forest, just 10 milometers south of Kampala. While most of it is natural in as far as the indigenous trees and shrubbery were left untamed and wild, a small section of it was filled with beautiful hardwood trees for aesthetic purposes. 

Upon entry into the property, having parked your vehicle in the expansive parking area, what takes your attention is the lush forest itself. The tropical architecture that houses the restaurant, bar and tourist lodge. All the buildings were all designed to blend into the forest and play a background role to this oasis of wild in the heart of the metropolis. You instantly realize that the main attraction is the forest and the lawns, not the buildings. 

The property was opened on December 23rd 2021, according to the Robert Begumisa, the man behind the initiative. 

My experience at the Lweza

It is 4PM on a Sunday and the place is teeming with people. Under the thick canopy of a well manicured forest, a woman lazily lies in a garden couch, reading a book, while her toddler daughter is slobbering her whole body in ice cream. Waitresses are traversing the 14 acres, checking on everyone and trying to interest them in a drink or a snack. It’s like a city park but with hospitality services. 

An elderly lady walks in one the stone-paved trails with her twin grandsons who are skipping about like little goats. On one end of the forest, a young cameraman is snapping pictures of three ladies in a garden swing chair near a small fountain. At the other end, in a clearing outside the little forest near the swimming pool, a group is gathered together in some sort of informal party. A heavily pregnant lady seems to be the center of the party so one could guess that it’s a low key baby shower. 

At the opposite end, in another clearing with a beautiful lawn, a more formal baby shower complete with blue balloons and a ‘high table’ for the lucky lady is going on. A party of about 12 is seen talking and laughing as a camera crew takes their pictures and videos. In a trail behind them, an old couple walks past them, hand in hand, with knowing smiles on their faces. 

The children’s play area is completely full of happy children, playing in the swings, and the bouncy castles and the slides as some parents stand around watching, while others are seated in garden furniture, relaxing with drinks and snacks. 

The swimming pool is full of swimmers, the pool bar is filled with patrons and the garden bar is also hosting a few parties. But its the thick forest down the hill that makes such a place a necessity to townspeople. 

Initially meant for tourists

Clearly, this is the kind of place you come to when you want to be one with nature without traveling for hours out of the city. While one part of the forest is well-tended and manicured for the benefit of playing children and small family celebrations, the other part is left to be completely wild and untamed. 

It’s like a national park brought closer to the city. The whole property has an aura of a tourist destination. All the furniture, art work and shutters in the utility facilities have that rugged rustic persona that is reminiscent of tourist lodges. 

Man behind the business

Robert Begumisa, the man behind the business, has been in the tourism industry for 22 years, having started out as a tour guide in 2001. That same year, he was able to buy this very property. In 2006, he registered his Abacus African Vacations, bought a tourist lodge in Bwindi together with an expatriate friend and has been involved in the tourism industry all his working life.

“I initially wanted to built a tourist lodge in this place but in the middle of the planning, I realized that Ugandans would love such a facility too. As I was building, I started receiving visitors, from the community who loved what I was doing, so I changed my plans,” Begumisa says.

He says he changed his mind because there is a conflict between serving tourists and serving Ugandans.

“Ugandans love music and loud sound generally but tourists don’t. When Ugandans started showing interest in the place, I provided some music and slowly, I turned a tourist lodge into a place that could serve the community instead,” he says.

The property has about 10 rooms for those seeking accommodation in the wild. They are designed in tourist lodge style, so they are cozy, rustic and surrounded by shrubbery and trees. Here, creatives that are working intense projects come to not only soak in nature but also in search of change of environment, just so the creative juices can probably flow. 

“I plan to have one stop center for hospitality that is not only affordable and nice, but also exclusive in its own way. I also want to attract groups of people who are looking for a secret meeting place in Kampala, where important deals can be cut without the possibility of anyone eavesdropping on their conversations.” 

Not a bed of roses

Trying to run an untamed forest in an orderly manner is no easy feat. There are mosquitoes to worry about and snakes to fear. While there is a simple solution to these, which is fumigation, there is a larger problem of serving very large crowds in a 14-acre forest. 

“Some weekends can be very hectic because of the huge numbers of people we receive, but that fades in comparison to what we have seen around Christmas holidays,” he says. 

Clearly, this is a lucrative business simply because there is a desperate need for the service. A man so passionate about tourism has brought a national park closer to the people that need the most; nature-hungry, knackered city dwellers.  


By Tony Mushoborozi