Le Pays des Mille Collines
The journey from Kigali to the volcano home of the mountain gorillas takes about four hours along a good road that winds between a few dozen of the “mille collines”. Look closely and you’ll see that every “colline” or hill is encrusted with terraced cultivation and small farming settlements.
Land is uniquely precious in Rwanda and at 1250 people per square mile, it’s the most densely populated nation in Africa. The fact that almost everywhere is hilly makes this all the more challenging! Yet the people are up for the challenge; hard working and positive minded they are determined to become one of the leading African information technology based economies.
Journey’s end is heralded by the sight of looming volcanoes cloaked in the rainforest greens and shrouded in mists. This is the unmistakable homeland of King Kong straight out of the film set.
Six Chic Suites at Bisate
If you’re a regular safari-goer you’ll know that there are some extraordinarily exclusive places to stay in Africa’s wildest and least likely locations. If this is your first time on a high-end safari, then you have a real surprise in store.
We’ll happily arrange your very comfortable stay in one of several outstanding small lodges, but for central African chic, consistent quality and a spell-binding location it’s hard to beat Bisate Lodge.
Six uniquely designed suites look like pairs of “thatched eyes”, staring at you through the forest, which clings to the forested volcanic slopes. As soon as you’ve been shown around your simply elegant suite you’ll head through the glass doors to the veranda.
Covid lockdowns are banished to distant memoryland as you sit and gaze towards Bisoke and Karisimbi volcanoes. A frosted glass of wine in hand, your recurring thought is “just leave me here”.
Ten Parties of Six Go Gorilla Trekking
Out of all the people in the world only 60 can go gorilla trekking each day in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park. So it’s a pretty exclusive experience and by now you’re working out that you need to get in quick if you want to do it – especially if you want to do it from Bisate!
Of the twenty gorilla troops in Rwanda, it is possible to visit ten. Some live a long hard trek away near the summits of the volcanoes. Others, more considerate, prefer to live on the lower slopes perhaps an hour or two away.
Anyone with reasonable mobility can do this and the guides allocate less mobile people to the more accessible gorilla families. You have all day to find them so there’s plenty of time to enjoy your rainforest surroundings and savour the anticipation of your encounter.
Suddenly your guide will signal you to stop and be silent. Your heart leaps to your throat as you realise that you are close to a family of gorillas. The powerful silverback watching intently, females chewing bamboo, babies playing and tumbling about like kids the world over. Amazing!
Your hour among the gorillas passes in a blur of emotion, frantic photography, awe-struck contemplation and whispered conversation as you drink deeply from this privileged experience.
You Can go Twice
For a real treat you might like to book two gorilla treks so you can visit two separate families on different parts of the volcano.
The Virunga volcanoes are also home to a large colony of extremely rare golden monkeys. If you fancy another trek you can spend an hour among these lively, beautiful primates as they forage and play in the trees above and around you.
Remembering the Five Hundred Thousand
If you have time back in Kigali we will arrange for you to visit the Kigali Genocide Memorial. Described as “a place of remembrance and learning” it is a remarkable memorial to the victims of genocide in Rwanda and worldwide.
By looking at the events of those three months of 1994 in the face, the memorial aims to educate and so prevent further tragedies of this kind. It is also a testimony to the forgiveness, healing and reconciliation that has been central to the Rwandan journey of the last 25 years.