At a Glance
A series of otherworldly spherical fiber-thatched pods built into the side of an eroded volcanic cone make up the extraordinary Bisate Lodge, which sits adjacent to Volcanoes National Park. The Wilderness Safaris property draws its design inspiration from the King’s Palace at Nyanza, formerly the seat of Rwanda’s last traditional monarchs. Each of the six suites has a bedroom area and a grand bathroom with a deep soaking tub and a shower carved out of volcanic rock—with impressive views through the floor-to-ceiling windows. Interiors reflect Rwandan craftsmanship, incorporating locally made woven baskets and colorful kitenge fabrics, and the emerald green in the chandeliers, created from recycled glass, represents the green hills of Rwanda’s countryside. Imigongo tiles with geometric patterns also turn up throughout the property. From this fabulous home base, guests can go gorilla trekking, visit local villages and lakes, take birding walks and plant trees as part of Bisate’s forest rehabilitation program or enjoy a private meal in the wine cellar.
**The Standout:**The extraordinary architecture of the thatched suites, which sit flush **Don’t Miss:**The community-oriented outreach programs, including the reforestation project, which is adding trees back to the land and attracting silverback gorillas into new areas
- Visiting nearby villages
- Gorilla and golden monkey trekking in Volcanoes National Park with incredible guides
- The design, both exterior (suites are clad in swatches of recycled plastic made to look like thatch) and interior (highlighting the best of traditional Rwandan handcrafted treasures)
On a stunning hillside near Volcanoes National Park, a series of thatched huts that resemble peanut shells appear almost like a mirage. Volcanic stone steps lead up to the main building, which houses the lounge, bar, dining area and the lodge's six suites. Fiber-thatch, which looks like leaf thatch but is made from recycled plastic strips, adorns each structure and is a testament to the focus on sustainable design throughout Bisate. Volcanic stone walls and fireplaces emphasize the grandeur and the durability of the surrounding volcanoes, which are always on view from the terraces, where black and white striped chairs and loungers invite all-day lingering before and after gorilla-trekking.
The six suites consist of a bedroom area and a large bathroom with a soaking tub, both with knock-out views from floor-to-ceiling windows. Interiors draw on traditional elements of Rwanda such as the bright colorful fabrics of the Great Lakes region. The emerald green in the chandeliers of recycled glass pay tribute to the deep green hills of Rwanda’s countryside. The traditional craft, Imigongo—geometric-patterned tiles made from cow dung—appear in spaces like the wine cellar, which is a perfect spot for a private meal. The culinary program at Bisate is incredible, given the property's remoteness: guests can enjoy delicious sweet potato gnocchi and mezze platters at lunch and fare including butternut squash with wild rice, chickpeas and feta for dinner.
While the rates at Bisate do not include gorilla permits, which must be arranged separately, activities offered by the lodge include trekking to see the gorillas and the golden monkeys but also visiting local villages and lakes, birding walks and participating in the forest rehabilitation program. The lodge has an agronomist who is in charge of an ambitious reforestation project, and guests can spend time meeting with him and planting a sapling to help increase the gorilla habitat. And after a long day of trekking, there's no better way to relax than with an in-room massage.
It is common on a visit to Volcanoes to primate trek on your final day in the region (often before flying out of the country on late flights that same day) and all lodges have early check-out times. To solve this problem, Bisate recently unveiled a first-of-its-kind stylish new day lounge called Kwanda located at the base of Bisate Lodge. Kwanda offers four spacious en-suite relaxation rooms, each with a bathroom and lounge area allowing guests to shower and change or also opt for an in-room massage before leaving property. The lounge has a spacious circular open-plan featuring a traditional center fireplace, comfortable leather couches for lounging and the Bisate Boutique, which is stocked with local art and artisanal crafts. Guests can also enjoy lunch at the Bisate Kwanda restaurant (don’t miss the pizzas from Bisate’s brand new pizza oven!), which has both indoor and outdoor seating - the lounge is set in Bisate’s organic vegetable garden. The day lounge makes it even more challenging to leave the property and this option also prevents guests from needing to pay for a day-room once back in Kigali before flights out of the country. A win-win all around.
Who Should Stay
Adventurers seeking the thrill of gorilla trekking, authenticity and ultimate intimacy and luxury.
Who Should Not Stay
Anyone with mobility issues; there are a lot of steps to climb to and from rooms. Also larger groups or people who are looking for a communal experience with other guests, as rooms are spread out and the emphasis is more on privacy than camaraderie. This lodge is also not for those looking for the amenities of a larger resort. If a spa, pool and wellness center are of interest than One&Only Gorilla's Nest is the better option.
Written by Melissa Biggs Bradley