Virunga Lodge occupies a truly stunning location on a high ridge overlooking emerald green hills, the Virunga volcanoes and the twinkling twin lakes of Bulera and Ruhonda. The lodge features an organic, laidback feel and very comfortable facilities. It is the ideal base for gorilla trekking in the Volcanoes National Park, as well as a host of other activities.
With one side of the lodge facing the dramatic extinct volcanoes, and the other looking out over the lakes, guests will be treated to some of the best views in Africa. The lodge offers the opportunity to walk to Lake Bulera or along a wonderful crater trail, and will also take guests on tours of the surrounding villages to enjoy the most touching and colourful aspects of the local culture. A visit to the grave and research camp of famous gorilla researcher Dian Fossey can also be arranged. A scenic drive will take guests into the Volcanoes National Park; home to gorillas, golden monkeys and a glittering array of birds. One complimentary massage is included in the full board rates for all guests.
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 giants at close quarters is without a doubt one of the most 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.
A team of builders and architects were called in to give the lodge an authentic Rwandan feel, which is achieved through the use of volcanic rock, locally-made terracotta tiles and brightly patterned interior decorations. On warm days, guests will want to spend relaxation time on the two terraces, which offer outstanding views beyond the colourful terraced gardens.
The gardens also hide a magical sunken area that offers complete tranquillity. During rainy and cold weather, the lounge area is a welcoming fireplace-warmed retreat, where guests can play board games or bury themselves in a book. The lodge’s excellent cuisine is served in an equally cosy dining room.
There is also a tranquil massage room in which to enjoy your complimentary massage, as well as a small curio shop selling a variety of clothing and merchandise. If they want to connect with the outside world, guests are free to use the wireless internet in the main building.
The lodge’s bandas include four twin rooms, four double rooms and two larger deluxe rooms. Each named after one of the regional lakes, the bandas have terraces with volcano or lake views, as well as bathrooms with double vanities, low-flush toilets and showers. The especially private deluxe bandas have the addition of a large living room (with a fireplace) for relaxation or romantic private dining. In accordance with the lodge’s eco-friendly approach, electricity and water heating are managed by solar power.
The lodge offers transport to Volcanoes National Park, where unforgettable gorilla and golden monkey tracking experiences can be had. Nothing can prepare you for the impact of encountering a fully grown sliverback gorilla, up to three times the size of an average man, yet remarkably peaceful, playful and tolerant of human visitors.
Close to the lodge, you can take hikes to Lake Bulera and various crater lakes, or take a stroll along the lodge’s incredible Crater View Trail. Guests have the opportunity to interact with the local community with visits to a local school, traditional village and orphanage. Long-staying guests can explore Lake Kivu and Gisenyi town, climb various volcanoes or visit Kusenyi, where Dian Fossey is buried next to Digit, her favourite gorilla.
While at the lodge, guests can expect stellar service and top quality Rwandan-infused international cuisine. You can kick back here in absolute comfort, surrounded by colourful wild flowers and a host of softly-singing birds.