Africa’s most luxurious safari lodge is in an unexpected place
Rwanda is full of surprises – and this remarkable hotel is just one of them
Words by Ute Junker
Pack your sense of wonder when you come to Rwanda. Tourism may be in its infancy here, but Rwanda delivers one of Africa’s most memorable visitor experiences. The biggest draw is, of course, a close-up encounter with the famous mountain gorillas, but there is much else to marvel at, from the country’s spectacular scenery to its surprising sense of peace and purpose.
Less than 30 years ago, Rwanda was convulsed by a bloody genocide. These days, peace has been restored, investment is flowing, and the country is learning to showcase its many attractions.
That includes its stunning landscapes, its verdant hills alternating with tranquil lakes. Apart from Volcanoes National Park, home to the famed gorillas, the country’s loveliest national parks include Nyungwe Forest National Park, where you can track chimpanzees, and Akagera National Park, where giraffe, hippos and lions roam. Equally inviting is the magnificent Lake Kivu, one of Africa’s Great Lakes.
The country’s capital, Kigali, is worth a visit in its own right. The fascinating Kigali Genocide Memorial does a remarkable job of explaining Rwanda’s darkest chapter – when one million Rwandans were murdered in 100 days – while other attractions include a surprising number of local art galleries, lively markets (check out the magnificent textiles) and East Africa’s only whisky distillery.
Rwanda is also home to some of Africa’s most luxurious lodges, including the marvellous One & Only Nyungwe House), For sheer wow factor, however, Wilderness Safari’s remarkable Bisate Lodge is the one to beat.
Your first glimpse is enough to realise that this is not your average safari lodge. Perched on a jungle-covered mountain ridge, the accommodation consists of six pods, shaped like beehives and appearing to have been woven like baskets. Up close, the unusual design – inspired by Rwanda’s traditional royal architecture – is more of a figure 8, with walls that curve up into the domed ceiling like space pods.
There’s a king-size bed, two balconies, magnificent views onto the nearby peaks and a volcanic stone fireplace; perfect for curling up in front of during misty afternoons. The bathroom is huge, with a sexy black free-standing tub and a volcanic-stone shower.
Need more reasons to indulge in a spot of cocooning? The food is superb – the menus change daily – and the service is stellar. Come in from a trek and your muddy shoes will be whisked away, to be return later freshly cleaned; a laundry service does the same for your clothes. In-room massages are available, and whatever else you might need – from a cappuccino to help stoking your fire – is instantly delivered with a smile.