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. Apart from a close-up gorilla encounter – which is a simply unforgettable experience – travellers can also pay a visit to colonies of chimpanzees and the bamboo forests that house golden monkeys, roam through tea plantations and even enjoy a drink at one Africa’s only whisky distilleries.
Perhaps the most remarkable thing about Rwanda’s tourism renaissance is its luxury lodge boom. New openings include One & Only’s elegant Gorilla’s Nest and Singita’s sleek Kwitonda Lodge, but for a memorable place to wake up, Wilderness Safari’s remarkable Bisate Lodge has a special place in my heart.
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.