Reviews of Mountain Gorillas Nest
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
Good convenient base for Gorilla Trekking
This was a good base for our purposes (e.g. gorilla treking) and it served us well enough. I'm not sure whether it is trying to be an African safari lodge or a fully funactional hotel. There are building works going on at present and I believe they will soon be pulling down and replacing the main reception/bar/restaurant.
The weather during our stay was cold and wet. And yet, the bedrooms and public areas all seemed designed for keeping cool in tropical heat. Accordingly, when we went for meals, we wrapped up in jumpers and jackets - and kept them on throughout the meal! Our bedroom had a lovely view but faced away from the sun, and it was therefore even colder inside the room than outside. We had to get into bed to keep warm.
In common with many lodges, the lighting in the bedroom was very poor and we were unable to read without the aid of a torch. There was very little pressure in the shower/bath water meaning that the water just trickled out. And, unlike much of Africa, this region has no water shortage! Then the plumbing gave up altogether and we had no hot water on our last evening and on the morning of our departure.
The food here is very basic European stuff - sandwiches, pizzas, pastas, burgers and chips. It was OK but the menu never changes and you soon get bored with the choice. Nothing was offered of a more local or African variety. There is good local beer at a reasonable price. But the wine was outrageously priced with the cheapest bottle costing over £30.
After our morning gorilla and golden monkey treks, there wasn't a great choice of activity - we visited the local village and the market and we took a drive up to the nearby lakes - but the options were limited. When we visited the local market, we were accompanied by the lodge's community representative.
Whist in the market, I declined to take any photos as I knew how it could upset some local people. But the lodge's community guide said this was nonsense. To show me, he took my camera and started taking pictures. Suddenly, there was a terrible commotion as one of the market sellers took offence. We were followed by an angry local woman all the way back to the hotel and, at one point, were surrounded by a crowd that was attracted by all the commotion. He should really have known better!
Mountain Gorillas Nest review
This appeared to be the best of the choice for lodges in the area to be able to view and treck to see the gorillas.
Ok it is in a good location only being 10/15 minutes from the guide registration and start point. But it is pretty dated and lacked any sophistication and warmth, basic rooms and poor lighting and also as their is no heating they'd be pretty cold at some times of the year.
Poor meals and despite the very good and friendly services they could not salvage it. The only salvation was a reasonable bottle of red wine but at a price.
Mountain Gorillas Nest review
As it was the low season, there were very few guests indeed.
The staff went out of their way to make me feel welcome and do whatever they could to help. The food/service was excellent. The setting and views were great.
The only adverse comment I would make was that the rooms had no heating at all, and this was a disadvantage when cold and wet!
Mountain Gorillas Nest review
The hotel was much more comfortable than we had expected. The staff were friendly, we had hot water for showers throughout the day. The only problems were with the restaurant. The breakfasts were excellent but all other meals were of rather poor quality. We're not complaining - it's a poor country were tourism is in its infancy - but it's worth pointing out to prospective visitors.
A particular problem for us was that they simply had no concept of vegetarianism. When beef was served and Kerstin said she didn't eat meat, she was offered pork instead! She had requested fish or vegetarian with the booking, and several times during our stay, but it just didn't register.
Again, this is not a complaint, for reasons already stated, but strict vegetarians should be aware.
3 night safari at Gorillas Nest Lodge
We had a marvelous time at the Volcanoes National Park! Our activities included a golden monkey outing and 2 gorilla visits. The gorillas that we visited were at about 2600 meters elevation. It was a challenging, but quite doable, walk through the fields and the bamboo forests.
On the first day, through our driver, we asked for the guide Francois (who had worked with Dian Fossey). He was excellent! He was very informative about plants, animals, farming, and local customs. He was very energetic. We used the services of a porter to carry our daypack. This cost $10 per day.
Also, the trek included 2 armed guards provided by the Rwanda army to protect us and the gorillas. While we brought rain gear, our morning treks were sunny and clear. On the first gorilla outing, since there was so much underbrush, the guide let us stay another 10 minutes beyond the standard hour visit. The gorillas were fascinating. We were very close to the gorillas. We highly recommend the gorilla visits.
The golden monkeys were very fast when jumping from one bamboo tree to another. Photos were not easy to take. For the most part, we just leaned back, looked up and enjoyed the activity. We were glad we signed up to see the monkeys.
The lodge was very convenient to the park headquarters. The room at the lodge was very cold. During the days we opened the doors to try and get some warmth into the room. We asked for and recieved an extra blanket. The bathroom appeared to need a bit of repair and cleaning (mold removal, caulk and grout repair).
The grounds (flowered pathways) and setting (backgound of mountains, forests and terraced fields) were beautiful. The lodge had a golf course (which nobody seemed to be using) that added to the open view. Local dancers came in the evening and provided a 45 minute show for tips. The food was primarily buffet style, with a local flavor. Soups were very good. Main courses included fish, pork, beef and goat. Also, we had 2 excellent lunches at the hotel that our driver stayed at in town.
Rwanda is a very clean country. According to our driver there are periodic national clean-up days. It shows. There is no litter or piles of garbage!! It was a 2 hour drive form Kigali to the park on good roads. The children were very friendly. They sang and danced when they saw us drive by. However, some were begging for $, pens, bottles. This was discouraged by our driver.
Our driver, Arthur, was very friendly and informative. He was very helpful in helping us to understand the Rwanda genocide. We talked quite a bit about the future of Rwanda. We also talked about possible activities for tourists. It seemed that once we completed the monkey/gorilla outings, we had open time in the afternoons. We did go to the Virunga Lodge for the views and drinks. It seems like there could be some development to provide additional outdoor activity opportunities for the tourists.
We talked about renting kayaks, canoes, bamboo rafts on the lakes and rivers. We talked about escorted bike trips and village treks that could include local dancing, handicraft shops or local cafe at the destination points. We talked about walking tours of a local village by a village elder. None of these are available now. I think that Rich and I might have signed up for 1 or 2 of these if they had been available. It seems like most people that we talked to saw the gorillas and left. Perhaps, if there were additional activities, they may have extended their stay.
One bad day, one good day
Again we had the misfortune to overlap with a large group. These ones were American, elderly and demanding and had resulted in the hotel being overbooked, the staff exhausted and the other guests most unhappy. The first evening was grim.
The following day we came back from tracking golden monkeys to an empty lodge, smiling staff and a totally relaxed atmosphere. We went for a very interesting walk with one of the hotel staff to visit the local community, meet people, chat to the children (the older ones being desperate to practise their English) and tour the market - a highlight of the holiday.
There was a lot of rain by the time of our stay here and it was not warm - so by way of warning (not complaint) - visitors need to be prepared for damp clothes you can't dry and getting cold, there is no heating in the rooms - but wonderful charcoal fires in the bar and dining room.
Regarding the Golden Monkey tracking: Do this before you visit the gorillas - you don't get as close, the photos won't be as good but the monkeys are well worth the visit and somehow the more different groups of primates you get to watch, the more you will get out of each group. We got to see vervet and baboons (in Akagera) chimps, colobus and mountain monkeys (in Nyungwe) and the golden monkeys before seeing the gorillas. It gives a perspective ....