Virunga Safari Lodge
Deluxe Banda Main building
Deluxe Banda
Main building

Virunga Safari Lodge

Volcanoes Safaris, the No.1 Gorilla Safari Company in Uganda and Rwanda, was the first international upmarket safari company to start taking clients to see gorillas in Rwanda in 2000, as the country settled down after a decade of conflict. Set on a stunning hilltop in a spectacular location, the magnificent Virunga Lodge offers panoramic views of the Virunga volcanoes and shimmering twin lakes Ruhondo and Bulera. Opened by Volcanoes Safaris in 2004, Virunga Lodge has frequently been described as having ‘the best view in the world’. This charming lodge is the ideal place to base yourself when visiting Rwanda’s rare mountain gorillas.

Country

Rwanda

Highlights

• For guests looking for a truly unique and exclusive experience, take a helicopter from Kigali to the lodge, which offers spectacular views of the “Land of a thousand hills”. • Honeymoon couples can now enjoy ultimate luxury in one of our new deluxe bandas and be received by their very own gift hamper. • In 2009, the Volcanoes Safaris Partnership Trust (VSPT) was established by Volcanoes Safaris Ltd. VSPT is a non- profit organization that undertakes community and conservation activities in areas that neighbour all four Volcanoes Safaris lodges and great ape habitats. The VSPT aims to create long-term, self- sustaining projects that will enrich the livelihoods of local communities, promote the conservation of the great apes, restore natural habitats and work with communities and institutions to reduce human-wildlife conflicts in the areas neighbouring our lodges. The objectives of VSPT are achieved through regular donations from Volcanoes Safaris who contribute a voluntary donation of $100 from every full cost safari purchased. • Mwiko Primary school is situated near Virunga Lodge and has over 800 children and only 12 dedicated and hard-working teachers. Over the last 4 years the VSPT has built the school a new classroom, a water tank, repaired the roof, built latrines, helped with grounds maintenance and bought uniforms and materials for the school. • We also support organizations such as the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project, who carry out vital work on gorilla conservation by inviting them to give talks to guests at our lodges and channeling donations through them.

Need to Know

• The lodge is a scenic 3-hour drive from Kigali. Alternatively, it is about 20 minutes in a stunning helicopter transfer from Kigali direct to the lodge. • Altitude: 2200-2300m • Wi-Fi in the communal area only • Charging of electronic gadgets can be done in the main public area • Complimentary laundry and boot cleaning service is available (in the rainy season it may take up to 48 hours for the return of clothes). • Our hot water is solar heated – in rainy seasons we provide hot bucket showers in the event there is no sun to heat up the water sufficiently. • Fully stocked bar with a selection of complimentary soft drinks, beers, wines and liquor. Bottled water is also provided. • Each room is equipped with a safe. • Extras must be paid for in cash - we accept UG Shillings, US Dollars, GB Pounds or Euros. We cannot accept credit cards. • Gratuities are at the discretion of guests and greatly appreciated; they are best given in post 2006 US Dollar cash. For lodge staff we suggest $5-15 per day per guest. For Volcanoes Safaris’ guides we suggest $10 or more per day, for park guides $10-20 and for trackers and porters $20 per guest. Make sure you bring enough cash with you. • Phone: (+250) 07882 594363 • Email: salesrw@volcanoessafaris.com


SafarisSafaris


4-day safari - Gorillas in PNV offers gorilla and golden monkey tracking as well as a chance to visit Dian Fossey’s grave and the Karisoke Research Centre or climb Mount Visoke. Driving: From US $ 3,417 Flying: From US $ 5,261 6-day safari - Gorillas in PNV and Culture in Mgahinga offers gorilla and golden monkey tracking as well as a chance to participate in the culture and traditions of the local Batwa pygmies. Driving: From US $ 4,333 All VSPT and lodge activities are included in the price of your safari. All park activities should be pre-arranged with our sales team at the time of booking. Any extra park activities will need to be paid in cash at the start of the activity. • If you are gorilla tracking be sure to order an early wake up call with tea, coffee or hot chocolate and breakfast (we suggest 5.00am & 5.30am respectively) in order to be at the park for your briefing by 7am. • Breakfast is served from 5am to 10am. • While gorilla tracking please follow the rules given to you: • Viewing time is limited to 1 hour with 8 visitors per group • Please maintain a distance of 7m • No flash photography is permitted • You may not be allowed to visit the gorillas if you are sick with a cold or other contagious human diseases. • It is advisable to take layers of clothing, we recommend a fleece or light sweater, long sleeved shirt, strong waterproof walking boots (comfortable for going up and down steep hills, waterproof trousers and waterproof jacket. • We also recommend you take sunglasses, a small torch, binoculars, sunscreen, a hat, gloves and a small backpack • Porters are available to help carry your things. Currently the charge is $20 • The lodge will provide you with a packed lunch and water. • Typically, tracking takes 3 to 8 hours and requires some agility and fitness. • Mountain gorillas live at high altitude, which may cause difficulties. You should walk slowly and drink plenty of water.

Wildlife HighlightsWildlife Highlights

The Parc National des Volcans (Volcanoes National Park) makes up one part of the Virunga conservation area, which spans the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda and Rwanda. Evolved from the oldest National Park in Africa, today PNV covers an area of about 160 km2, ranging from 2,400m to 4,507m and contains five volcanoes; Karisimbi, Visoke, Sabinyo, Gahinga & Muhavura. The park was established in order to protect the mountain gorilla, Gorilla beringei beringei, and was brought to the attention of a global audience by Dian Fossey, through her research on the gorillas there and her autobiography Gorillas in the Mist. The Virunga eco-system is composed of four major vegetation zones: bamboo, Hagenia-Hypericum forest, Sub-Alpine and Afro-Alpine. Secondary thicket, meadows, marshes, swamps and small lakes also occur but their total area is relatively small. Although most famous for the gorillas and the endangered golden monkeys, the park is also home to black-fronted duiker, buffalo and bushbuck - elephants are also reported to be in the park, though these are now very rare. The park also boasts approx. 200 bird species, with 13 species endemic to the Albertine Rift. Today there are estimated to be approximately 480 mountain gorillas in the Virunga Conservation Area. PNV has 10 habituated gorilla families used for tracking - almost double what it was 5 years ago.

Local ActivitiesLocal Activities

Park Activities: • Gorilla Tracking (must be booked in advance) • Hike to Dian Fossey’s Grave – Located between the Karisimbi and Vicoke Volcanoes, graves of some the research gorillas as well as Dian Fossey’s can be seen. Takes about 6-8 hours. • Golden Monkey Tracking – One of the most endangered primates in Africa, guests can spend one hour with the monkeys once they have located them in the bamboo forests. Takes 5-6 hours. • Climb Karisimbi Volcano – Known as the ‘white shell’ due to its often-white capped summit, this is the highest volcano in the Virungas (4,507m). Takes two days and guests will camp on the mountain. Requires fitness and good health. • Climb Visoke Volcano – This has the ‘perfect’ conical shape of a volcano with a deep Crater Lake found at the summit (3,700m). Takes 5-8 hours and requires fitness and good health. • Visit Iby’Iwacu Cultural Village – Learn about Rwandan culture and the ancient ‘King’s palace’ and enjoy traditional dance, song, hunting techniques. VSPT Community Projects: • Visit Mwiko Primary School – Enjoy a 30 minute walk from the lodge to the school and help the local children practice their English and see how the schooling system works in Rwanda. (Closed at weekends and holidays) • Watch the Intore Dancers – In the afternoon enjoy a performance by the local community’s traditional dance troupe. Lodge Activities: • Walk to Lake Bulera – This 3-hour walk takes you through local villages and farmland, covering 5km to beautiful views of the lake. • Complimentary Massage – Please book your complimentary massage at the lodge and if the lodge is full please be patient with the masseur. • Crater View Trail – this short trail on lodge property offers an incredible view of both lakes as well as a huge caldera. • Visit Lake Kivu – The sixth largest lake in Africa, Kivu lies on the border between DRC and Rwanda. 1.5 hour drive from the lodge • Visit Roz Carr’s Imbabazi Orphanage – Situated in the picturesque hills of the Virungas, near Gisenyi, it is about a 1.5 hour drive from the lodge.

FacilitiesFacilities

• Wi-Fi available in the main lodge building. • Charging facilities in the main lodge building. • 10 stone guest bandas with tiled roofs (4 doubles and 4 twins). • 2 Deluxe guests bandas with private sitting room and fireplace. • 240v lighting (with emergency solar lamp & torch provided), plus a private terrace offering spectacular views over the volcanoes or lakes. • En-suite bathrooms with flushing toilet, double vanity, showers with hot & cold running water (solar heated) and biodegradable hand & body wash. • Tranquil massage room to enjoy a complimentary massage. • Gift shop offering Volcanoes Safaris merchandise and local handmade crafts. • Terraces with scenic panoramic views.

AccommodationAccommodation

Virunga Lodge is a luxury eco-lodge perched high ‘on top of the world’. The main building provides a cosy refuge to enjoy meals, a drink around the fire or a chance to relax with a book. While the terraces are the ideal place to take in the stunning scenery, with one side of the lodge facing facing the twin lakes Ruhondo and Bulera, and the other side of the lodge looking out over the Virunga volcanoes. The lodge’s eight tiled bandas are each named after African lakes in the region and offer elegance and great comfort. Their ‘organic, bush-chic’ design reflects the local building style. Each banda has its own en-suite bathroom and private terrace with spectacular views of the volcanoes or lakes. Virunga also features two new honeymoon bandas, larger and more private; they also include an open and comfortable living room area with central fireplace. These bandas are ideal for a honeymooning couple or family. The interiors feature brightly coloured Kitenge furnishings, the fabric commonly used for traditional clothing, providing a wide variety of exciting colours and complex patterns, adding to the local feel of this eco-luxury lodge experience.

AccoladesAccolades

Trip Advisor - 2013 Certificate of Excellence Conde Nast Traveler – 2013 World Saver Awards, Small Hotel Chains Doing it All Gold HSMAI Adrian Award 2013 Global Vision – Sustainability Award, 2012 National Geographic – Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth, 2009

SeasonSeason

Rwanda enjoys a warm climate all year round, however rainfall patterns and altitude play a role in day- to-day temperatures. At night it can be chilly (duvets, blankets and hot water bottles are provided). • Average daytime temperatures range from 15oC/59oF to 25oC/77oF • Average night time temperatures range from 5oC/41oF to 15oC/59oF • Drier months – January, July and August to mid-September • Wetter months – February to June and mid-September to December

Average StayAverage Stay

2-3 nights

Average PriceAverage Room Prices

(per person per night unless otherwise stated)

US $700 per person sharing (High Season) US $630 per person sharing (Low Season)

Children PolicyChild Policy

Children are welcome, though we do not have childcare facilities at the lodge. Children under 15 years of age are not allowed to visit the gorillas; families travelling with children aged 15 years and below will need to arrange alternative activities.

Contact and Social Media

To find out more call us on +44 (0)1865 982290 or email us at enquiries at safariawards.com.

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Safari Awards Results History - Africa

Year Category W RU 3rd HC F N
2017 Best Community Focused Safari Property Runner Up Finalist Nominee
2017 Best Design Finalist Nominee
2017 Best Ecologically Responsible Safari Property Runner Up Finalist Nominee
2017 Best Family Safari Experience Finalist Nominee
2017 Best Location Finalist Nominee
2017 Most Romantic Safari Property Finalist Nominee
2016 Best Community Focused Safari Property Finalist Nominee
2016 Best Design Finalist Nominee
2016 Best Ecologically Responsible Safari Property Finalist Nominee
2016 Best Location Finalist Nominee
2016 Best Safari Cuisine Finalist Nominee
2015 Best Community Focused Safari Property Finalist Nominee
2015 Best Ecologically Responsible Safari Property Finalist Nominee
2015 Best Safari Cuisine Finalist Nominee
2015 Best Value Safari Property Nominee
2014 Best Community Focused Safari Property Finalist Nominee
2014 Best Ecologically Responsible Safari Property Finalist Nominee
2014 Best New Safari Property Finalist Nominee
2014 Best Safari Cuisine Finalist Nominee
2014 Best Safari Guiding Team Finalist Nominee
2014 Best Safari House Finalist Nominee
2014 Best Value Safari Property Finalist Nominee
2014 Best Walking Safari Finalist Nominee
2012 Best Safari Property

Safari Awards Results History - Rwanda

Year Category W RU 3rd HC F N
2017 Best Community Focused Safari Property
2017 Best Design
2017 Best Ecologically Responsible Safari Property
2017 Best Family Safari Experience
2017 Best Location
2017 Most Romantic Safari Property
2016 Best Community Focused Safari Property
2016 Best Design
2016 Best Ecologically Responsible Safari Property
2016 Best Location
2016 Best Safari Cuisine
2015 Best Community Focused Safari Property
2015 Best Ecologically Responsible Safari Property
2015 Best Safari Cuisine
2015 Best Value Safari Property
2014 Best Community Focused Safari Property
2014 Best Ecologically Responsible Safari Property
2014 Best New Safari Property
2014 Best Safari Cuisine
2014 Best Safari Guiding Team
2014 Best Safari House
2014 Best Value Safari Property
2014 Best Walking Safari

- Winner (W)   - Runner Up (RU)   - Third Place (3rd)   - Highly Commended (HC)  
- Finalist (F)