Bisate Eco Lodge is tucked into the south-western slopes of a small extinct volcano offering stunning sunset views of two of the eight largest volcanoes in the Virungas (Karisimbi and Bisoke). The Virunga Mountains are a chain of mountains forming part of the Albertine Rift, and are the result of a geological fissure that divides Eastern Africa from the Congo Basin. This remote corner of Africa is most known for being the home of Mountain gorillas (Gorilla beringei beringei), and the lodge is within a short driving distance of the Volcanoes National Park (Parc National des Volcans) headquarters, and most of the parking spots from where visitors set out on foot tracking these intriguing and majestic giant apes.
The lodge consists of a main building and six individual and unique chalets, all imaginatively built to resemble reed or grass thatched structures that may have housed Rwanda’s royal family in pre-colonial days, or perhaps been an elven village in the Lord of the Rings! They are interesting from the outside, and stunning from within.
The main lounge exudes space, with high ceilings and large open areas incorporating a lounge area, the crucial bar in the central part, and an area dedicated to delicate and delicious meals, all offering views into the park to the south-west. From the dining area it is possible to explore underground, descending a spiral staircase and arriving at the wine cellar, replete with select South African wines. From here you can escape through a door onto the path that is close to chalets 1 and 2, and that also leads to the car park. Alternatively you can leave from the main entrance near the bar, along passageways that conjure ancient African empires, gently curving walls carefully built into the side of the hill that lead you onward, to chalet 3, or upward, as you suck in the light mountain air and slow your pace, to the other chalets or onto a forest trail that takes you to relaxing view points, and around the volcanoes’ rim.
On entering your chalet, the impression is of carefully thought out utility envisaged with comfort and design. The whole interior blends well, encouraging you to relax and slow down, and take it all in. There is the entrance passage with mini bar, coffee maker, kettle, selection of teas and safe. Then the airy bedroom warmed by strategically placed fireplaces (one between the bedroom and the bathroom, warming both areas). The bed impels you to collapse onto it, allowing you to lie there and gaze out of the large sliding glass doors at the scenery. If you don’t doze off, you can sun yourself in a lounge on the verandah and watch iridescent sunbirds flit in and out of the vegetation. The bathroom comprises a huge tub, large washbasins and plenty of space for any toiletries, and cabins provide the loo and the shower with their own spaces.
The cuisine fuses perfectly with the architecture, blending exotic African with the healthy. The lodge is part of a grand picture, one of conservation and sustainability. This land, once all cultivated, has been replanted with indigenous trees, including four hagenia (Hagenia abyssinica) trees planted kindly by Wilderness Safaris in our name! Many of the employees are from the neighbourhood, and as much produce as possible is sourced from the community.