Trek with Mountain Gorillas at Rwanda’s Otherworldly Bisate Lodge

For decades, Northern Rwanda has been a go-to destination for adventure travelers. The country’s aptly named Volcanoes National Park is home to a rare population of mountain gorillas and is one of Africa’s biggest draws for wildlife-lovers. The area’s newly opened Bisate Lodge is so lavish and incredible, it’s a worthy destination in its own right.

Tucked into the eroded cone of a dormant volcano, Bisate Lodge is no doubt the area’s swankiest hotel. The overall design tastefully incorporates elements of the King’s Palace in Butare with weaver bird nests found along Africa’s riverbanks. Each of the lodge’s six private forest villas is a masterwork of architecture and design, blending traditional materials with modern elements in a way that’s at once beautiful, familiar, and otherworldly. All feature a spherical, pod-like design with a high, synthetic thatched roof and liberal use of local materials like wicker, rattan, stone, and raw wood — all of which creates a warm, organic feel.

There’s plenty to remind guests that this is no ordinary African lodge. Luxury amenities in every 980-square-foot guestroom include gas fireplaces, soak tubs, double vanity sinks, and free Wi-Fi. Large, private balconies also ensure breathtaking views to Bisoke Volcano, while some offer glimpses of the area’s two other prominent volcanoes, Karisimbi and Mikeno. The lodge’s central lounge houses the on-site restaurant, a gorgeous tile bar, and an extensive library of books detailing the area and its unique wildlife.

The main attraction for most travelers to this region is the mountain gorilla trekking. Just 20 minutes away, Volcanoes National Park is renowned as the place to experience walking safaris with the critically endangered creatures, as well as the lesser-known golden monkeys. The rugged, high-altitude landscape is home to twelve habituated troops of gorillas. All can be reliably tracked by the park’s expert guides, who lead daily journeys through the Afro-alpine forest.

The eco-tourism group that runs Bisate Lodge, Wilderness Safaris, has a strong focus on bolstering local communities and the environment. Hotel guests are invited to join in guided community walks to meet and interact with families of the nearby rural town of Kinigi. A comprehensive reforestation project is also underway; more than 15,000 indigenous trees have already planted to help regenerate the lodge’s 35-hectare expanse. Guests can explore the property via two dedicated nature trails and take part in a tree-planting ceremony of their own as well.

Rates start at $1,100 per person per night, including all meals, beverage service, and excursions.

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