Virunga Lodge is a stunning wonder sitting in a shroud of mist on top of a beautiful mountain in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park. The ideal spot to base yourself when visiting the area’s famed Mountain Gorillas, Virunga lodge offers comfortable luxury and a respite for tired feet after a day of meeting the park’s gorilla families.
I stayed here before, 5 years ago, and loved it now just as much as I did then. Aside from friendly hospitality and the most incredible views, the lodge is a place where peace and quiet take on a whole new meaning.
I arrived to the lodge after a four hour drive from Kigali in the evening. The staff greeted me with open arms and led me to a beautiful stone house on the edge of the mountain with views across the valley and into Uganda.
The stone house was large with two beds dressed in colorful, local fabrics, a writing desk, huge bathroom and fireplace. This was instantly a place I knew I could stay for days – soaking-in the views and enjoying the fresh air.
My guide from Primate Safaris, Sula, stayed nearby with easy access in case I needed something. But, the lodge did everything in their power to make my stay comfortable. The vine was quiet as the country was just reopening from closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but I enjoyed the silence. In the evening, the main lodge was warmed by an open fire as the bartender poured a lovely cabernet from South Africa. The food presented at Virunga Lodge is gourmet in nature, but composed of local ingredients freshly grown – never preserved. And, it was delicious. Though I had come with a mission to visit the gorillas yet again, I couldn’t help but want to stay put.
The next day I was taken to base camp, some 30-minutes down the road. Here is where your permits are organized, paperwork is filed and temperatures taken to be sure you are suitable for entering the Mountain Gorillas’ habitat without getting them sick. Because the gorillas’ DNA is so similar to humans, and with an ongoing pandemic, Rwanda takes extra care to protect the animals and masks are required when climbing up the volcano to experience them. This wasn’t a bother for me, as I had the same desire to protect the gorillas had I been carrying an unknown sickness.
Of course, without fail, the encounter with the Mountain Gorillas was transformative. There really are no words to describe the feeling and overwhelming sense of gratitude when in the presence, so close and personal, of these creatures. I was permitted to stay one hour, which I enjoyed immensely. And, just like that, was whisked back to Virunga lodge for tea.
My stay in Volcanoes National Park and at Virunga Lodge was enchanting to say the least.
Here you become family and an honorary part of the team. It’s an experience you will never forget and there’s nowhere else I’d rather stay.