Last month, Travel Director Donna returned to Rwanda and shares with us her experience of Bisate Lodge located on the edge of the Volcanoes National Park, home to Rwanda’s Mountain Gorillas. Bisate is a pioneering example of eco-luxury, conservation and community partnership. Here is why Donna thinks it should be on everyone’s bucket list….
What’s Hot: Bisate Lodge
In October I had the pleasure of experiencing Bisate Lodge. It is hard to believe that a luxury eco-retreat could exist on the incredibly steep hillside, but the eco-design shelters a hidden gem. The villas are odd looking thatched domes designed around the traditional Rwandan homestead structure. Unique and surprisingly spacious.
As you round the steps to the main area you enter a sumptuous open lounge and are faced with a jaw-dropping view which immediately transports you into the land of a thousand hills. Frankly a photograph cannot do the view justice.
We were greeted by American managers Hadley and Jomi who sat us on a plush couch with a drink as they welcome us to the lodge and described each of the six volcanoes we could see whilst providing a fascinating summary of the conservation work achieved in less than a year since Bisate opened.
So how does it look inside? I expected the room to be stunning, but I was still blown away by the size and opulence of it. Massages on arrival, same-day laundry service, extensive cocktail list, wine cellar and TV/library for viewing documentaries, plush sofas, enormous bathrooms with extravagant baths and power-shower, a double-sided glass fireplace between the bedroom and lounge, a well-stocked kitchen, super-king-size beds, and best of all a private terrace from which to enjoy the views. I woke at 4.30am, took my tea outside and watched the clouds clear and re-settle on the top of Bisoke Volcano from my bed. It was magical, and it got even better when room service delivered our exquisite breakfast.
‘Tree, meet guest. Guest, meet tree’
The evening prior we received a delivery in our room. Two baby trees with a note attached ‘Guest – meet tree’. Every guest is a conservationist at Bisate and later that morning manager Jomi escorted us on the nature trail where we planted our baby trees on the hillside and I confess I felt emotional as I thought of my little tree eventually joining up with the Volcanoes National Park and sheltering a Mountain Gorilla. Indeed, my tree joins over 24,000 trees planted since the lodge was built. A remarkable achievement.
The nature trail around the 42 hectares of Bisate was easy walking and offered beautiful views over the hills. We were eye-level with birds of prey soaring in the skies. Jomi checked his wildlife camera traps and pointed out the on-going projects to clear the forest of the ‘wrong’ trees and plant the ‘right’ ones. (These being ones gorillas like!)
We concluded with a tour of the local village community led by local guide Jean-Pierre who explained the positive impact the lodge has had on his village. I met some amazing people including my dear little friend (pictured) who insisted on holding my hand the whole tour – releasing it only to allow me to purchase something from the craft hut and the delightful 6 year old Patrick who insisted on shaking my hand so he could make ‘proper introductions’ as he had learned in school that week.
So, it was not just the amazing rooms and incredible food and service which impressed me at Bisate Lodge, but the ethos and vision of the property. Staying here felt like joining a family and I felt inspired by the eco-credentials and level of social responsibility which underpin every aspect of Bisate.
Indeed, if you want to be clean and green without roughing it you have come to the right place!
Stay a while in Rwanda…
Rwanda has changed a lot since my last visit and there is a genuine feeling of regeneration and optimism. I wish to encourage more people to staying longer in Rwanda, it has so much to offer and a stay here is life-changing.
Wilderness will be opening another property next year; Magashi Camp in Akagera National park, which will have similar eco-conservation values and we are excited to be offering a special-offer combination safari with these two exceptional properties.
Wish you were here?
Bisate Lode operates on a 2-night minimum stay policy and with just 6 luxury villas it books out nearly a year ahead so early planning is recommended. A two-night gorilla trekking packages start at around USD $5,500 per person. A stay at the new Magashi Camp in Akagera starts at around $650 per person / per night. Please contact email@example.com for further details or to discuss how we can shape your wildlife adventure of a lifetime and experience the land of a thousand hills.