Rwanda has adopted a tourism strategy that safeguards its attractions for the long-term: deliberately restricting visitor numbers and focusing on the high-end traveler. I love this approach, as it fosters sustainability. Moreover, you can make a difference in Rwanda, even as a family.
Rwanda has experienced an influx of new eco-luxury properties: One & Only now have two properties in Rwanda: Nyungwe House for viewing chimpanzees and Gorillas Nest for, well, gorillas.
And even more recently, Singita opened two properties, Singita Kwitonda Lodge and Kataza House near the gorillas.
And to complete the “awesome foursome”, Wilderness Safaris has opened the incredible Bisate Lodge near the gorillas and Magashi Lodge in Rwanda’s Akagera National Park.
Set in the magnificent northwestern reaches of Rwanda, right on the edge of Volcanoes National Park, Singita Kwitonda Lodge and Kataza House form part of an ambitious conservation partnership with the Rwandan government and local communities.
The One Planet sustainability framework, which supports all of Singita’s operations, is at the core of the construction of Singita Volcanoes National Park, which was designed with respect to and in acknowledgment of its remarkable location.
This conservation philosophy translates to sourcing local materials, minimising waste, saving water and conserving energy, and it’s part and parcel of Singita’s continuous commitment to sustainability. At Singita Volcanoes National Park, the décor and design of Kwitonda Lodge and the four-bedroom exclusive-use villa, Kataza House, incorporates locally sourced and produced materials for walling, ceilings and surface finishes, while celebrating the handiwork of local artisans such as stonemasons, weavers and ceramicists.
Their striking handcrafted details and the prevalence of local expertise and artistry not only ensure an authentic aesthetic that is true to the lodge’s geological setting but also ties in seamlessly with Singita’s goals and desire to partner with communities in and around its lodges.
The lodge and villa are set against the backdrop of the dramatic Virunga Mountain Range – home to the critically endangered mountain gorillas and also one of the most biologically diverse areas in the world, enveloping everything from steppes to swamps, lava plains, savannas, and dense high-altitude forests.
Bisate Lodge, adjacent to Volcanoes National Park, combines the bucket-list gorilla trek with a pioneering vision of reforestation and community partnership.
Bisate is located in the natural amphitheatre of an eroded volcanic cone, with dramatic views of the peaks of the Bisoke and Karisimbi volcanoes rearing up through Afro-alpine forests. Encountering one of the gorilla groups in the nearby Volcanoes National Park is a unique experience.
Six opulent en-suite forest villas maximize comfort and views while adhering to environmentally responsible principles and reflecting the rich culture of rural Rwanda. Bisate is within easy driving distance of the Park Headquarters, from where gorilla treks depart daily. Walks on Bisate’s property offer birding and participation in the reforestation program.
Akagera National Park is one of Africa’s great wildlife success stories, and complements the gorilla treks, and Magashi Camp is situated in the productive and phenomenally diverse north-eastern corner of Akagera National Park, overlooking beautiful Lake Rwanyakazinga. Akagera comprises some of the most scenic savannah in East Africa – open plains, woodlands, lakes, swamp, and grassy low mountains – and is home to one of Africa’s highest hippo densities, some very large crocodiles as well as well as the rare sitatunga and more than 520 bird species.
Teeming with plains game, Akagera now also boasts a healthy population of lion, which were reintroduced into the park in 2015 after a 20-year absence, as well as black rhino which were reintroduced in 2017. Magashi – the only exclusive-use area in Akagera – also harbors a good density of leopard.
Six spacious and airy tents offer uninterrupted views over Lake Rwanyakazinga, while Magashi’s main area comprises a luxurious lounge, dining and bar area, pool, and expansive viewing deck with a convivial fire pit. The architecture and interiors pay homage to traditional Rwandan culture.
Make a difference in Rwanda whilst staying at these amazing properties
You can make a difference in Rwanda by teaching English to young girls from difficult backgrounds who are eager to learn and improve their chances of finding gainful employment.
So you can stay at these incredible new properties whilst making a lasting difference and leaving a legacy – explore these enchanting destinations, encountering Mountain Gorillas, Golden Monkeys and Chimpanzees in Rwanda (plus enjoy the hippos, crocs, lions and birdlife of Akagera National Park).
Christopher Hill is Founder and CEO at Hands Up Holidays. Hands Up Holidays is an award-winning travel company specialising in tailor-made luxury family trips that combine sightseeing with hands-on service projects.
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