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Virunga Lodge
Virunga Lodge
Virunga Lodge
Virunga Lodge
Virunga Lodge
Virunga Lodge
Virunga Lodge
Virunga Lodge
Virunga Lodge

Virunga Lodge: Our full report

About a 50 minute drive from the headquarters of Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park, Virunga Lodge certainly ...

... has one of the most spectacular locations of any camp in Africa – high on a ridge overlooking the twin lakes of Lake Burera and Lake Ruhondo.

The lodge has ten spacious stone rooms – eight standard rooms and two ‘deluxe’ rooms – each named after an African lake. They have a rustic design with a neutral colour scheme, and have been finished to a high standard. All have wooden floors, chunky wooden furniture, large verandas and a fireplace to keep you warm in the evening. the spacious en-suite bathrooms have flushing toilets, twin sinks and walk-in showers. The ‘deluxe’ rooms are a little larger than the standard rooms, and each has an adjoining lounge with a number of comfy sofas.

The communal areas of Virunga Lodge are set at the top of the hill. Here you’ll find a cosy lounge with sofas, coffee tables and bookshelves arranged around a central stone fireplace. There’s a bar in one corner, with friendly staff on hand to serve you a drink. The adjacent spacious dining area houses a large wooden dining table with guests coming together in the evenings to share a meal.

One of the newer additions to Virunga Lodge is the Dian Fossey Map Room. This is a light, airy space with lots of windows giving panoramic views of Lake Ruhondo and the volcanoes beyond. The room was built in tribute to Dian Fossey, who was instrumental in establishing the gorilla conservation and research programme in the Virungas. The walls are covered in prints featuring old maps, famous explorers and gorilla conservationists. The map room functions as a second lounge, and is a great place to relax and take in the afternoon sun.

Activities from Virunga Lodge focus on gorilla trekking, although guests should be aware that it’s a good 50 minute drive from the national park headquarters. Typically, you’ll spend your first day acclimatising, and taking a fairly gentle hike to the golden monkeys. On the following day or two, you’ll do a more strenuous hike to see gorillas – you will usually be able to see two different groups of them over two days.

Back at the lodge, there is a small spa, and all guests can enjoy a complimentary 30-minute massage during their stay, which after a full morning in the mountains is a welcome treat. In addition, a local Intore dance troupe performs regularly in the beautiful terraced gardens. It is also possible to arrange a visit to one of the local villages or to go on a guided walk along the shore of Lake Burera.

Virunga Lodge has some good eco-credentials, and aims to minimise its impact on the local environment as much as possible. Much of the electricity comes from solar panels, and rainwater is collected during the heavy rains. The lodge is highly involved in the local community, and supports a number of charitable projects in the area. These include starting up a bee-keeping project, a mushroom growing project, and they also support a local Intore dance troupe.

Note that Virunga Lodge is located up a very steep access road.


Our view

Virunga Lodge is an excellent lodge offering a good level of luxury and stunning views. Although it is slightly further away from the park headquarters than most other lodges around the Volcanoes National Park, we feel that its rustic charm and picturesque location helps to sets it apart, and it is more reasonably priced than some of its luxury competitors.

Jessica Plumb

Jessica Plumb

Rwanda expert

Geographics

Location
Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda
Ideal length of stay
Stay for four nights to have three full days in this area.
Directions
Virunga Lodge is approximately a three-hour drive north from Kigali.
Accessible by
Fly-and-Transfer

Food & drink

Usual board basis
Full Board
Food quality
We did not eat at Virunga Lodge on our most recent visit in 2019, but we understand that the menu is fairly international in style.

Dinner is a three-course meal. When we visited they were serving starters of French onion soup or smoked salmon paté. Main courses included marinated pork medallions, marinated paneer and vegetable skewers, and a ‘taste of Rwanda platter’. Dessert was warm chocolate and cashew brownies with homemade ice cream.

Special interests

Walking
Virunga Lodge is one of the top lodges in the area around Volcanoes National Park and certainly has the most spectacular views. Walks along the lakeshore or in the nearby villages are an interesting activity when you are not hiking to see primates in the park.
See ideas for Walking
Luxury
From Virunga Lodge’s stone terrace with comfortable rattan furniture you’ll get miraculous views towards Lake Burera and Lake Ruhondo. A central fireplace with locally crafted furniture and colourful cushions invite guests to relax and unwind during their luxury holiday.
See ideas for Luxury

Children

Attitude towards children
Virunga Lodge does not accept children in the high season between July and November.
Property’s age restrictions
No children under 16
Special activities & services
None
Equipment
None
Generally recommended for children
Virunga Lodge generally has an adult atmosphere, and children are accepted only during the low season, between December and June.

Our travellers’ wildlife sightings from Virunga Lodge

Since mid-2018, many of our travellers who stayed at Virunga Lodge have kindly recorded their wildlife sightings and shared them with us. The results are below. Click an animal to see more, and here to see more on our methodology.

Mountain Gorilla

100% success

Buffalo

0% success

Elephant

0% success

Pangolin

0% success

Spotted Hyena

0% success

Communications

Power supply notes
There is a back-up generator.
Communications
There is WiFi in the central area.
TV & radio
There is no TV at Virunga Lodge
Water supply
Other

Sustainability

Virunga Lodge sustainability

Equally protecting communities and wildlife

A stay in one of Virunga’s 10 luxury bandas is a unique chance to relax in the first lodge built near the gorilla park after the war in Rwanda. Staying true to its roots, Virunga is deeply involved in protecting the endangered mountain gorilla, and is now the only luxury lodge to offer tourists the opportunity to join in their efforts in tracking these animals. Carefully designed to minimize the possibility of humans passing on diseases to the animals, the lodge only carries out the activity with a maximum of 8 people at once, and requires them to keep a distance of 7m from the gorillas.

Simultaneously, Virunga Lodge is an active supporter of the local community’s wellbeing. Perhaps the most relevant example is the ‘One Sheep per Family’ project with the goal of providing each of the 140 families in the Sunzu community with one sheep. To work effectively, the lodge has divided the locals in 14 groups, and allocated 9 females and one male to each group, which in time led to genetic diversity. The project is beneficial for reaching a self-supporting community, as sheep can be a source of food, and lambs can be sold for an extra income for the family.

The goal of the project was reached in May 2017, and is now being replicated in the nearby village. Tourists have the possibility to support the project by donating $40 – the equivalent of one sheep, and help support the neighboring Bugeyo community.

See more great sustainability projects in Rwanda

Health & safety

Malarial protection recommended
Yes
Medical care
Staff are first-aid trained, and there is a hospital an hour’s drive away in Ruhengeri.
Dangerous animals
Moderate Risk
Security measures
There is 24-hour security around the lodge.
Fire safety
Fire extinguishers are found in all areas.

Activities

  • Birdwatching

    Birdwatching

  • Canoeing

    Canoeing

  • Cultural excursion

    Cultural excursion

  • Helicopter

    Helicopter

  • Primate trekking

    Primate trekking

Extras

Disabled access
Not Possible
Laundry facilities
Laundry is included.
Money
There is a safe in the main office.
Accepted payment on location
Virunga Lodge accepts US dollars, Rwandan francs, euros and GB pounds. They also accept major credit and debit cards, including American Express, although there is a 3% surcharge on credit cards.

Other lodges in Volcanoes National Park

Alternative places to stay in this same area.


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Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge

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In a fine location close to Volcanoes National Park, Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge is a very comfortable lodge with wonderful views.


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Gorilla's Nest

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Gorilla's Nest is a very high-end lodge in a great location near the Volcanoes National Park headquarters, from where all gorilla trips start.


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Bisate Lodge

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The exclusive and luxurious Bisate Lodge, close to Volcanoes National Park, is one of the best places to stay in the area.


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Bishop's House

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In the town of Musanze, a half-hour drive from the Volcanoes National Park headquarters, Bishop's House is well placed for gorilla trekking.


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Kwitonda Lodge

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Close to the edge of Volcanoes National Park, the luxurious Kwitonda Lodge opened in 2019. Ask your Expert Africa specialist for the latest news.


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Tiloreza Eco Lodge

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Five Volcanoes offers mid-range hotel accommodation around 15 minutes' drive from Volcanoes National Park headquarters.


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