Virunga Lodge Volcanoes National Park
Virunga Safari Lodge is built on a 2’300 m high mountain with a terrace that offers breathtaking views of the Virunga volcanoes and the Ruhondo and Bulera lakes. The lodge comprises eight large bandas with stylishly furnished rooms that exude a comfortable atmosphere, ensuring a relaxing stay for guests.
All rooms offer views of the lakes or the volcano, and come with a small garden and veranda for private use. The central lounge is the lodge’s social hub, where guests meet for dinner and exchange stories by the crackling fireside; further entertainment is provided by a local dance troupe. This eco-lodge has been built with local natural materials and runs on solar electricity.
Volcanoes National Park is covered by approximately 160 km² of cloud forest, and home to the Rwandan Mountain Gorilla. Six inactive volcanoes, Muhavura, Mt Gahinga, Karisimbi, Visoke, Mikeno and Sabyinyo, create an incredible backdrop. Volcanoes National Park is known for the scientific studies carried out here by Dian Fossey, who was the first scientist to make detailed studies of the Mountain Gorilla.
Virunga Safari Lodge is situated on a spectacular slope overlooking the Ruhondo and Bulera lakes. The drive to the national park’s headquarters takes about an hour; Kigali is located about 3,5 hours drive away.
The Mountain Gorilla (Gorilla beringei beringei) is threatened with extinction. There are approximately 800 Mountain Gorillas left in an area covering the northwest of Rwanda, the southwest of Uganda and the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park (BINP) in Uganda is home to a gorilla population living in an area covering approximately 330 km². A further population is located in the Virunga Volcano Region, which traverses the Rwanda, Uganda and DRC border. Although a single ecological unit, the Virunga Volcano Region is split politically into three national parks: Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Unganda, Volcano National Park in Rwanda and Virunga National Park in the DRC; the whole region encompasses some 300 km². The gorillas live in stable family groups headed by a dominant silverback.
Gorilla trekking involves an early morning drive to the park’s headquarters where guests are separated into groups before receiving exact details about the upcoming tour. Each group visits a different gorilla family – when guests and guides are ready, your private guide will drive you to the starting point of the trek. Depending on the gorilla family, this will take from twenty minutes to 90 minutes. A maximum of eight guests, the porters and two rangers will then set off. The hike can be short or strenuous, depending on the gorilla group and the location of the gorillas. The first guests are back in Ruhengeri at 11 a.m., the last at 4 p.m. The maximum length of stay with the gorillas is unfortunately only one hour, then you have to say goodbye.
Although the highlight, gorilla trekking is not the only activity this region has to offer. Guests also have the possibility to climb the Visoke and the Virunga volcanoes, track the rare Golden Monkeys or visit the Karisoke Research Station set up by Dian Fossey.
Good to know
The lodge is situated quite high and the climate is usually cool so please remember to pack enough warm clothes.