Bisate Lodge, Rwanda
Clinging to a lush hillside like perfectly formed thatched orbs, Bisate Lodge is an uber-luxurious retreat on the edge of Volcanoes National Park. Ensconced in the natural amphitheatre of eroded volcano cones, each of the six thatched villas looking out onto a spectacular trio of volcanoes – Karisimbi, Bisoke and Mikeno. In fact, Bisate is a word which translates from Kinyarwanda (one of the official languages of Rwanda) to ‘pieces’, in reference to the eroded cone it’s within. Everything about Bisate Lodge points towards Rwanda. The villas themselves are designed in likeness to the former King’s Palace in Nyanza, the textiles which decorate the rooms and communal spaces are authentically Rwandan and the detail even extends to the staff uniform, which are made from traditional kitenge fabrics. With its dramatic natural setting, modern-but-traditional design and Rwandan heart, Bisate Lodge is the perfect primer for your date with the gorillas.
There’s only six villas at Bisate Lodge, all offering unrivalled privacy and epic views over the emerald-wrapped volcanoes beyond. They’re all elegantly appointed and huge – each around 1,000 sq ft in size – with a bedroom, living area and bathroom, so you can spread out. A central fireplace keeps the whole villa toasty, especially if you’re sat on the custom-made armchairs just in front, accompanied by a cowhide rug. A big, black oval bath is the magnificent centrepiece in the bathroom (there’s also a walk-in shower), while a bamboo balcony gives you incredible views towards brooding Mount Bisoke.
Meals are always served in Bisate Lodge’s restaurant or adjoining terrace. Like the lodge itself, the food focuses on traditional Rwandan cuisine, with signature dishes including liboke (chicken cooked in banana leaves) and kachumbari (tomato and onion salad). Ingredients like plantain, kale, wild honey and pineapples are sourced from a local market and coffee drinkers will be in heaven – the Rwandan Gato Keza blend is from the nearby Kigufi Coffee Estate. Make a beeline for the comfy leather sofas in the lounge area after dinner – they’re made for a nightcap!
Gorilla trekking is the obvious draw here and Bisate Lodge is within easy reach of the Volcanoes National Park headquarters, where the gorilla treks (a permit is required) begin from. Guides take you deep into the park in search of a troop of mountain gorillas (which will hopefully include some babies if you’re lucky!), where you’ll get to spend one precious hour in their captivating company. The journey to get to them can be strenuous but it is well worth it. Don’t be fooled into thinking that gorillas are all to see here, with hikes to see golden monkeys less celebrated but just as rewarding. Guided nature walks help you understand more about the stunning environment around you, there’s treks to amazing lakes like Ruhondo and Burera and the eye-catching Musanze Caves. Twitchers can go hunting for the 13 endemic bird species found flitting among the mahoganies, too. It’s not all walking, either – village visits give you fascinating insights into local community life and tea and coffee sampling are a true taste of Rwanda. In many ways, the real joy of staying at Bisate Lodge is the fact guests can get involved with heartening conservation projects such as tree planting and visiting the Karisoke Research Centre, which was set up by iconic gorilla conservationist Dian Fossey.
There’s currently no pool or dedicated spa at Bisate Lodge, but there is a team of masseurs which can provide you with a selection of massage treatments in the privacy of your own villa. Included in the price of your stay is a complimentary shoulder and back massage.
Where is Bisate Lodge?
Tailor-made Holidays with Turquoise
Every Turquoise holiday to Rwanda is tailor-made and expertly crafted. Please contact our team of travel specialists on 01494 678 400 or via our online enquiry form for a bespoke quotation and we’ll happily source the best available offers for your travel dates.
Sign up to our newsletter for the latest news and offers