Nestling in the foothills of the dramatic Virunga mountains, conveniently placed close to the gorilla trekking trails of the Volcanoes National Park, Sabinyo Silverback Lodge has gained an international reputation for excellence, offering great accommodation in Rwandan-style suites, cottages and a family cottage. The lodge offers equal doses of style, adventure and natural beauty, whilst treating guests to all-encompassing service and top-class cuisine.
The lodge is just a 15 minute drive from the headquarters of the Volcanoes National Park, where activities such as gorilla and golden monkey trekking, and a variety of breathtaking hikes start. After a day in the park, a massage in the spa should rejuvenate the weary.
A variety of other activites are offered, including guided walks and mountain biking excursions, as well as visits to the Iby’iwacu Cultural Village, where you will visit the house of a local king, watch the preparation of herbal mixtures, enjoy traditional dancing and drumming and try your hand at archery.
The lodge’s lodgings all have fireplaces to keep guests warm in the high altitude climate, and verandahs to soak up the beautiful volcano and forest views.
Established in 1925, Volcanoes National Park is one of the oldest parks in Africa, and attracts a constant flow of tourists from around the world. Stretched across the forested Virunga volcanic mountain range on Rwanda’s western border, the park’s main attraction is its population of mountain gorillas. Watching these gentle and peaceful giants at close quarters is without a doubt one of the most thrilling and poignant experiences in the world of wildlife.
The 16 000 hectare park has an altitudinal range of 2 400m to 4 500m, encompassing six extinct or dormant volcanic peaks and different types of forest. Eight gorilla groups have been habituated to humans, and are undisturbed by the presence of hikers who have taken the guided treks to find them. The magnificent golden monkey is the park’s other primate, living almost exclusively in the bamboo forests. Bird-watching is spectacular, with over 290 species observed, 20 of which are endemic.
Several hiking trails will lead hikers to the summits of most of the volcanoes. The duration of hikes varies from between a few hours to several days, and hikers need to be accompanied by a guide at all times.
All areas of the lodge are built from stone, with roofs constructed from attractive terracotta tiles. Inside, the decoration could be described as Rwandan-chic, with earthy colours and patterned fabrics merging with contemporary influences. The main lodge has polished wooden floors and large couches in front of a roaring fireplace, while the bar and dining area are also kept cosy by a fireplace. A variety of board games and books will keep guests entertained on rainy days.
The eight lodgings all have fireplaces in the large sitting areas, as well as sheltered verandahs, dressing rooms and en-suite bathrooms with sizable bathtubs, showers and twin basins. The family cottage has two en-suite bedrooms connected by a shared verandah.
Outside, there are several wooden decks to enjoy al-fresco drinks and dining overlooking the lush, mountainous landscape. Another special feature of the lodge is its community awareness centre, which shares interesting snippets about the area’s colourful local people. A curio shop sells a variety of traditional goods.
Most guests at Sabinyo Silverback Lodge are there to enjoy a luxurious base for treks to see the gorillas. Tours depart daily from the Volcanoes National Park headquarters. Various hikes, forest walks and a trail to see the grave of Dian Fossey also depart from here, a does a trek to look for golden monkeys.
Closer to home, the lodge can arrange fascinating guided walks and mountain biking excursions of the surrounding areas, with guests learning about the lives of the local people on the way. For a more in-depth view of Rwandan culture, be sure to visit the cultural village, which turned former poachers into cultural performers.
The lodge’s lush, expansive gardens are a haven for more than 40 species of birds, and bird watchers are able to book a specialist birding walk with an expert.
You can ask the lodge staff about a variety of other excursions to places of interest, including lakes, colourful towns and hidden sacred forests. If you plan to be out for the most of the day, a delicious picnic lunch can be packed for you.