Rwanda, previously torn apart by genocide, is now one of the most talked about safari hotspots in the world. This remote, intimate and peaceful East African country is still essentially under-the-radar of mass tourism. To come here on safari feels like having Africa all to yourself; just you and the wilderness.
The environment is pristine and spectacular. Mountains meet savannah amidst the glittering tin roofs of unspoilt villages, forests rich with mahogany and cedar, vertiginous hillsides, deep valleys, bamboo groves and rice paddies. The rehabilitation of this country is everywhere to be seen. Largely driven by the strength and determination of local communities, wildlife numbers are recovering and conservation is of key importance.
Trekking to see mountain gorillas is a truly authentic safari experience. These wonderful primates live in the lofty cloud forests of Virunga, amongst the volcanoes created where Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo collide. Fiercely protected by a rigourous conservation policy, only a small number of guided treks are allowed to visit each day.
These social animals enjoy long lunches, grazing on shoots and leaves continually to satisfy their need for substantial calories. For the human observer, they display so many similarities to ourselves; from the expressive eyes to the hand gestures, hugs and playfulness. Coming face-to-face with a mountain gorilla is a unique and life-changing experience.
Bisate Lodge is one of Africa’s most exclusive safari lodges. As part of the stable of eco-pioneers, Wilderness Safari, Bisate sits just outside the Volcanoes National Park. It’s a mere twenty minutes drive from the park headquarters and starting point for daily mountain gorilla excursions.
Designed by Johannesburg-based architect Nick Plowman, the design follows the fluid lines and traditional materials of the former Royal Palace in Nyanza. The lodge has close links with the local community, using local artisans to create many of the beautiful furnishings and accessories decorating the space as well as employing many local people to work in Bisate.
Guest accommodation is in six thatched round villas nestling on the steep hillside with balconies looking out over Mount Bisoke. Luxury is as much an element of Bisate Lodge as the authenticity of the experience. Living spaces have custom-made armchairs, log-burning fireplaces and huge bathrooms with black oval resin bathtubs and walk-in showers.
In the communal areas, fine dining brings together European and African cuisine paired with fine wines and intellectual company. Evenings are often spent curled up at the fire talking to the other guests or resident experts about conservation or wildlife.
When not out visiting the gorillas, you can walk through the national park with a local guide, join the reforestation project planting trees, visit local farmers or trek to seek out the golden monkeys.
Rwanda is a place to be humbled, inspired and nourished.
Our top reasons to go to Bisate:
- access to exclusive areas of African wilderness
- opportunities to contribute to the local biodiversity, community and conservation through hands-on projects
- easy to combine with other African experience camps as part of a purposeful itinerary