Virunga Safari Lodge
Deluxe Banda Main building
Deluxe Banda
Main building

Virunga Safari Lodge

CELEBRATING TWENTY YEARS OF GORILLA AND CHIMPANZEE TOURISM IN UGANDA AND RWANDA
1997-2017

Twenty years ago we were the first to set up simple camps in the areas around the gorilla parks. Today, Volcanoes Safaris is the leading luxury lodge company in Uganda and Rwanda:

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

  • The Dian Fossey Map Room available to all guests staying at Virunga Lodge

 

Need to Know

• 10 luxurious bandas (6 Doubles, 2 Twins, 2 Deluxe). Each banda has a private terrace from which our guests can watch the sunrise over the dramatic landscape of mountains and lakes. Luxuriously appointed, with the accent on vibrant Rwandese fabrics and stylish locally inspired furniture

• All rooms are complete with a fireplace, en-suite bathrooms with flushing toilet, double vanity and shower with hot & cold running water.

• Wifi access in the main lodge building and Dian Fossey Map Room.

• One complimentary massage per guest. The new Spa will open in May 2018.

• Full board accommodation including all soft drinks and house alcoholic beverages. Premium beverages paid at consumption. 

• Complimentary laundry and boot cleaning service.

• Personal butler service for all guests.

• Guide cottage available.

• Bandas are individually named after lakes in the area.

• Power sockets/charging facilities and hair dryer in the rooms. No air conditioners.

Getting to the Lodge

20 minute helicopter transfer from Kigali International

Airport direct to the lodge

3 hour drive from Kigali International Airport

2 hour drive from Mount Gahinga Lodge

6 hour drive from Bwindi Lodge

7 hour drive from Kyambura Gorge Lodge 

Useful information

  • Visa/MasterCard accepted
  • Gratuities are at the discretion of the guest. 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 $15-20 per guest.
  • Children under 15 years of age are not permitted to track the gorillas. They are very welcome at the lodge, but please be advised we do not have childcare facilities.
  • Check out time for all guests is 11am on the day of departure


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 $ 5,333 in high season and  US $ 6,288 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. 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

• 10 luxurious bandas (6 Doubles, 2 Twins, 2 Deluxe). Each banda has a private terrace from which our guests can watch the sunrise over the dramatic landscape of mountains and lakes. Luxuriously appointed, with the accent on vibrant Rwandese fabrics and stylish locally inspired furniture

• All rooms are complete with a fireplace, en-suite bathrooms with flushing toilet, double vanity and shower with hot & cold running water.

• Wifi access in the main lodge building and Dian Fossey Map Room.

• One complimentary massage per guest. The new Spa will open in May 2018.

• Full board accommodation including all soft drinks and house alcoholic beverages. Premium beverages paid at consumption. 

• Complimentary laundry and boot cleaning service.

• Personal butler service for all guests.

• Guide cottage available.

• Bandas are individually named after lakes in the area.

• Power sockets/charging facilities and hair dryer in the rooms. No air conditioners.

AccommodationAccommodation

 

The magnificent Virunga Lodge is the premier luxury gorilla lodge of Rwanda and one of Africa’s finest and most renowned lodges. The lodge is perched high on a ridge with stunning views of the Virunga Volcanoes and the Musanze valley to the west and Lake Bulera and Ruhondo to the east.

It offers the finest views in Africa, uniquely decorated rooms in the Rwandese style, fantastic food and exceptional and personalised service by our carefully trained staff. It is the first accommodation choice for the luxury traveller tracking the endangered mountain gorilla.

Each of our ten luxurious bandas has a private terrace from which our guests can watch the sunrise over the dramatic landscape of mountains and lakes. Luxuriously appointed, with the accent on vibrant Rwandese fabrics and stylish locally inspired furniture.

Each Banda has an individual fire place, a luxury shower room with a double vanity, and charging station.

The two deluxe bandas – called Ibirunga and Ibiyaga added in 2014 have their own private sitting room and more refined interiors.

Each of our ten luxurious bandas has a private terrace from which our guests can watch the sunrise over the dramatic landscape of mountains and lakes. Luxuriously appointed, with the accent on vibrant Rwandese fabrics and stylish locally inspired furniture.

Each Banda has an individual fire place, a luxury shower room with a double vanity, and charging station.

The two deluxe bandas – called Ibirunga and Ibiyaga added in 2014 have their own private sitting room and more refined interiors.

AccoladesAccolades

TripAdvisor - 2013 Certificate of Excellence

TripAdvisor - 2016 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 

Africa’s Most Romantic Hotel at the World Boutique Hotel Awards 2016.

SeasonSeason

The Equatorial climate of Rwanda is a major attraction with temperatures on the plains ranging between a very agreeable 21°C and 30°C. The climate does not change much, meaning both countries are ideal holiday destinations throughout the year.

In the mountainous areas it is colder than on the plains (especially at night) and the rainfall is greater. Temperatures in the mountainous areas can go down as low as 10°C in certain months.

The rainy seasons tend to be from March to April and October to November, but this varies and it can rain any time of year, especially in the gorilla park areas. Travel can be slower in the rainy season but the views are often better as the rain clears the air of dust.

Gorilla tracking can be muddier during the rainy season but with the right equipment and a helpful porter to guide you, gorilla tracking still remains open to visitors.

Our advice is to travel when it is most convenient for you. Visitors generally agree that the rain, which is usually just for short periods of time, is part of the great travel experience.

Average StayAverage Stay

3-4 nights

Average PriceAverage Room Prices

(per person per night unless otherwise stated)

US $910 per person sharing and USD 1090 for single occupancy (High Season) US $500 per person sharing (Low Season)

Children PolicyChild Policy

At Virunga Lodge, children of 12 - 16 years staying in the same room as their parents pay US $100 per child per night. The minimum age limit for children at Virunga Lodge is 12 years.

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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