Ruzizi Tented Lodge

Ruzizi Tented Lodge: Our full report

Rooms
9 tents
Traveller's rating
Excellent (100%) From 4 reviews
Children
Best for 10+
Open
All year

Since it was opened in 2012, Ruzizi Tented Lodge, has proved a welcome addition to Akagera National Park. It’s a simple, eco-friendly lodge located within the park itself, in a good position to explore the varying landscapes of Akagera.

Ruzizi is located on the shores of Lake Ihema, which is Rwanda's second- largest lake. The lodge has been built in harmony with its environment, so trees grow through gaps in the roof, and the walkways are molded around the vegetation. In keeping with its aim of minimum impact on the environment, it is entirely powered by solar, and also has a minimal-plastic policy, with drinking water in the camp served in recycled glass bottles.

In the main area, the reception leads to a small bar area, with comfortable seating in close proximity to the lake; if you can’t see the hippos, you’ll no doubt hear them from here! An indoor dining area for those rainy days is decorated in earthy tones, with splashes of colour from traditional woven baskets fixed to the walls, and bright paintings by local artists.

Moving outside, an outdoor pizza oven is located next to the path, which leads to a large deck with lovely views of the lake. In good weather, meals are served here and on our last visit, in May 2017, we found it a perfect spot to listen to the hippos, or watch the stars. There is a central firepit to keep you warm on cool evenings.

Raised walkways lead to Ruzizi’s tents, which are spread throughout the grounds, all separate from one another. Low wire fences stop hippos or other animals from getting to the tents, and there is a fence around the perimeter of the lodge to discourage larger animals from wandering through.

Each of the nine tents has an en-suite bathroom (with hot running water), a dressing area and a queen-size bed, or two small doubles. Each also has a private patio at the front, with a carved wooden table and canvas directors’ chairs. A large wooden chest houses thick blankets for any colder nights,

The focus of activities at Ruzizi is the relatively unvisited Akagera National Park, with guided game drives and boat safaris, though fishing is possible. Although this isn't a place for top-level guiding or great game, plains game such as impala, zebra and topi are commonly seen, as are crocodile and hippo. Hyena, jackal and leopard are supposedly present, too – although much more elusive! The re-introduction of 18 black rhino and two male lions in the spring of 2017 means that Akagera is now home to the ‘big five’ (lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo, and rhino), and we hope game sightings will improve within a few years. During our last visit, we saw several different antelope species and plenty of plains game, though the predators were particularly elusive. The birdlife was fantastic, especially on our guided boat safari, and we were able to spot different species of egret and stork along the lake shores, crowned cranes with a family of tiny chicks, and the beautiful malachite kingfisher.

African Parks have trained up a team of freelance guides from local communities, and they offer a range of alternative activities for guests in Akagera, including cultural visits to local communities and villages and a behind-the-scenes tour of the park headquarters. They also offer an opportunity called ‘Walk the Line’ when, along with a trained guide and armed scout, you’ll walk 7km along the national park fence line, and learn how the fence works and its importance for the park and the local community.

Our view

Ruzizi Tented Lodge is a simple but comfortable safari lodge, with a commendable eco policy. The food is excellent, considering the location and the power sources, and the location beautiful and serene. This is our top pick of the accommodation in the Akagera area, and makes a nice stop as part of a longer trip around Rwanda.

Geographics

Location: Akagera National Park, Rwanda

Ideal length of stay: Stay here for two nights to explore Akagera National Park. Ruzizi also combines nicely, in season, with its sister camp, Karenge Mobile Bush Camp. A night at each allows you to make the most of the park; call us for more details regarding the bush camping.

Directions: Akagera is about 2–3 hours drive from Kigali, with the last 10–15km on gravel roads.

Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer

Key personnel

Owner: African Parks

Food & drink

Usual board basis: Full Board

Food quality: During our last visit to Ruzizi, in May 2017, the food was excellent, especially considering the remote location and limited power resources. Both meat and vegetarian options are available.

Breakfast is served from 5.30am, either out on the deck or in the dining room; we enjoyed our breakfast watching the sun rise over the lake. The menu includes fresh fruit, toast, and eggs to order, accompanied by juice, tea and coffee.

Generally you will be provided with a packed lunch – which for our full day in the park included sandwiches, crisps, fruit and home-made chocolate muffins. For those staying in camp, there’s a limited à la carte lunch menu, with a variety of freshly prepared wraps and burgers.

Dinner is a set menu, preceded at around 7.00pm by drinks and snacks around the fire. We had arancini with mozzarella and chorizo to start, followed by deliciously fresh fish brochettes, with couscous and kachumbari. A light and creamy vanilla pannacotta was perfect to finish the meal.

Dining style: Individual Tables

Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining

Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included

Drinks included: The water is not suitable for drinking, but filtered water is provided in the tents and during mealtimes. Tea, coffee and juice are included at breakfast. All other drinks are at extra cost.

Further dining info: Room service is not available.

Children

Attitude towards children: Children are welcome.

Property’s age restrictions: There are no age restrictions.

Special activities & services: None.

Equipment: Camp beds are provided but not cots.

Notes: Children should be supervised at all times as there are hippos and crocodiles around camp.

Infrastructure

Power supply: Solar Power

Power supply notes: Batteries can be charged in the tents, or in reception.

Communications: The cellphone signal is limited, but there is a phone at reception for guest use.

TV & radio: None.

Water supply: Borehole

Water supply notes: The bathrooms have fully plumbed hot and cold showers, and flush toilets.

Health & safety

Malarial protection recommended: Yes

Medical care: A first-aid kit is located in the reception, and staff are first-aid trained. The nearest hospital, in Kayonza, is a 30-minute drive away.

Dangerous animals: High Risk

Security measures: Guards patrol the site throughout the day, and are on hand to accompany guests to and from their tents at night.

Fire safety: Fire extinguishers are located in each tent, and in the main area, and staff are trained in their use.

Extras

Disabled access: On Request

Laundry facilities: A 24-hour laundry service is available, at extra cost.

Money: Each tent has an individual safe.

Accepted payment on location: Visa and Mastercard are accepted. Cash payments may be made in US dollars or Rwandan francs, or bills can be settled via bank transfer before departure.

X  Close