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Le Bambou Gorilla Lodge
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Reviewed 8 March 2014

Our stay was characterised by fantastic service....nothing was too much trouble for them and they were very thoughtful.

The separate bungalows were modern, spotless and well appointed.

Highly recommended.

David and Gail, Australia

Stayed: March 2014
Thank David300300
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 18 February 2014

So having gone through a safari agent like many do en route to Ruhengeri, I had limited information about where we would stay. I stayed here while on a Primate Safaris tour, whom I recommend, but I have also encouraged them to reconsider this lodge.

Visited the first week of February 2014 and myself and 2 friends were the only guest. They shared one room and I had a single.

Welcome drink, awkward greetings on a cool rainy day. We ordered lunch then went to our rooms to settle in for a few minutes while it was prepared. Food here is barely edible outside from breads and the avocados they (sometimes) have. Alcohol prices are cheap but no ice cubes or competence in making things, so pick a simple mixed drink or beer/boxwine from South Africa.

Rooms are huge and space mismanaged. Hot water was mostly okay for me but my friends in the room on the other side of same 'house' had none for 2 days. Electricity was okay. ZERO WIFI CONNECTIVITY AVAILABLE HERE AND NO TVS. You are here for the gorillas, so understand that.

Weird welcome dance by local kids at 5pm that felt heavy tipping pressure. This is common in Rwanda, so get used to it. Sweet kids and the three of us did give them 10 us dollars in total for about 10 kids. We thought it fair.

The following day we get a mostly edible breakfast. Omlette station was set up for just 3 of us, kind of odd. Coffee is instant but put in a thermos for the psych factor that it's fresh.

After you return from your gorilla hike they will offer to clean all the mud from your shoes. What they do is drop it in a bath tub. None of our shoes were dry even 2 days after. Make sure to tell them only to clean the outsides. You do get another lunch and a chance to go back to your room and clean up a bit, but this is standard.

People were well intentioned and lovely working here, and I'm sure things are either really great or really bad during peak season, so I'd say assume the latter and try to stay elsewhere.

Really - stay elsewhere if you can, and if you have to stay here, plan to feel safe, bored, and hungry for better food for the prices we pay to go on these gorilla tracks!!

Room Tip: One where the water gets hot fast and lasts for more than 3 minutes. Safes and WIFI are not available so don't ask.
  • Stayed: February 2014, travelled with friends
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3  Thank Zach F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Kevinmugabo, Manager at Le Bambou Gorilla Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded 11 June 2014

we have tried to change the way of removing mud on the shoes that we use a wet material to remove and the shoes will not be wet and with our food we have have employed an experienced chef in our rooms we have changed the water heaters now any time we have hot water

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 13 February 2014

We stayed here for 2 nights in January and have no complaints at all. After reading reviews and looking at the hotel information we got exactly what we expected from a lodge which caters for people who are there for the gorillas and wanting clean comfortable (not luxurious)accommodation at a reasonable price.

We were the only people staying in the hotel at that time so had the full attention of all the staff who were extremely helpful and attentive. The food was lovely, because we were the only ones staying there we ordered what we wanted in advance, (the soup was absolutely delicious so I ended up having that every lunch time!) The room was clean and comfortable with a lovely open fire which they lit for us in the evenings and the hot water bottles we were given every night helped us feel snug and warm. The atmosphere in this area is very damp so there is a constant feeling of dampness on everything from clothes to bedding this is not the hotels fault, it is just one of those things. There was the odd power cut in the evenings (this is Africa!) but there was always someone who quickly arrived with a torch until the generator kicked in.

The hotel arranged for us to go on a walk to the cultural village with a local guide Lucky. We found this very interesting and informative, the people there were very friendly and happy and the children absolutely delightful. On our return to the hotel a dance group was waiting to entertain us which surprised us with us being the only ones there.

The hotel is located conveniently for the gorilla trekking (which is amazing and well worth doing)
The locals we met while outside the hotel grounds were very pleasant, we were not pestered by anyone though occasionally stopped for a chat by people wanting to practice their English but at no time did anyone ask for money or try to sell us anything which was really nice and helped us to enjoy speaking to them without suspecting their motives.

If I ever return to this area I would definitely use this lodge again.

Rwanda is a lovely country, absolutely no litter to be seen, lovely friendly proud people. If you have time when in Kigali try to make time to go to the Genocide Memorial Centre (take plenty of tissues with you, especially for the childrens room).

  • Stayed: January 2014, travelled as a couple
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Thank CaroleH500
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 8 February 2014

I stayed here with my husband and our two small children (age 3 and 1), my father, and our nanny on our recent visit to the gorillas. I chose it based on the good reviews here and the reasonable prices compared to many of the super expensive options around.

I emailed back and forth with the reservations agent several times to make the reservation. We booked a family cottage which had one room with a king bed and one with 2 doubles. The originally told us on the phone that they had cribs but when we got there they didn't. Luckily we had a travel crib for our 1 year old. They initially said they had no cots or anything for the 3 year old but in the end once they realized the sleeping situation brought a full size bed into the room that fit in the corner beautifully for our son to sleep in. There was a nice common room with a fire place that they lit each night. The beds weren't luxury by any means but were acceptable and clean. Our bathroom was the most disappointing part of our stay. The toilet leaked a big puddle next to it every couple of hours so everything was soaked. They tried to cover it up by putting a doormat in from of the toilet but it squished when you stepped in it - which I made the mistake of doing in my socks the first night - from then on we all wore shoes at all times. The shower stall shower didn't work at all though the shower head in the bathtub (with no shower curtain which is pretty typical in Rwanda) did suffice. The towels even when we first arrived were folded up on the rack and supposedly clean but still wet. Yuck!! I'm sure they just line dry and didn't have time to dry them fully before our arrival but a cold wet towel (and not just a little damp - wet!) is just unpleasant and unacceptable for a hotel claiming to be of this level. My dad's bathroom was totally fine without the floods and associated grossness but still with wet cold towels.

The service here really was incredible though. They greeted us on arrival with delicious ginger tea, settled us in our room with a fire in the fireplace, served us a good Rwandan buffet dinner and then gave us hot water bottles to warm our beds and keep out the mountain air chill. The first night dinner was quite late because we didn't arrive till 6 and then it took them over an hour to get it ready so our kids (who normally eat at 5) were a bit exhausted. But the next day they served breakfast and lunch at the times we requested. Dinner was a bit late again despite the fact we asked for it to be at 5 because even though we didn't return to the hotel from our gorilla trek till 4 they saved lunch for us (which we weren't expecting nor did we want at that hour). Next time I wish they'd just offer a boxed lunch or something. The food was all good and they catered to our vegetarian diet on request quite well. Pretty much everyone we encountered there gave excellent service and couldn't have been nicer.

Definitely take them up on having someone escort you to the gorillas. Johnson was great - he rode in our car and then got a ride from someone back to the hotel. He helped us not only find our way (which we could have handled on our own) but knew who to talk to, skipped us to the front of the line of people waiting to register, and got us in the Susa group that my father was coveting. They next day he accompanied us to the cultural village as well which we probably couldn't have found our way to without a bit of difficulty.

So this would have been a decent review, right? Disappointing bathroom and unacceptably wet cold towels but great service and otherwise nice rooms.

But then we went to check out and they tried to claim we owed double what they had quoted us. I had emailed back and forth with reservations several times getting quotes, asking questions, etc. We wanted one of the single budget rooms for our nanny which they tried initially to quote us $150 for and then came down to $100, which was still over what I see in the guidebook but we decided was acceptable. But then at check-out we found out that they didn't put our nanny in a guest room they decided on their own that she was a servant and put her in the room "we give to drivers". I was angry that they would make that assumption and wish I hadn't told them that she was the nanny - we wanted to get her a regular room and it sounds like they charged us regular room price and then put her in a "staff" room. Our family cottage was quoted to us at $200 USD full board per night for 3 adults and 2 kids. This sounded like such a better deal than the single room that I didn't really believe it, so I emailed to clarify whether this was a per person rate or for all of us. They emailed back that it was not per person but per room and even did the math at the bottom of the email stating it would be $200 per night for 2 nights so $400 USD total. But when we went to check out they claimed that the family cottage was 2 rooms so we owed 400 USD per night for $800 total. Even after showing them the email they claimed that is what we owed. They had my husband talk to the hotel owner on the phone who said he was losing money on us because of the food. Having lived in Rwanda for 6 months now we know quite well that the food prices here for vegetables, rice, potatoes, eggs that we were served are very cheap - especially for locals, and that staff are also paid very inexpensively (average well paid staff even in the capital are making only about $150 USD per month). He said he'd have to make up the difference himself - but given that he is the owner this makes no sense. He just makes less money off of us but I'm quite sure was still net positive for the weekend. We refused to pay the double price given that we had email proof of our quote - and they let us check out and leave begrudgingly.

We never would have stayed here at 400/night. We would have gone to the luxury place down the street and had a clean dry bathroom, dry towels, and a comfortable bed.

So in summary great customer service, average accomodations except for our flooded bathroom, wet cold towels, good food - but beware of last minute price changing and please don't pay $400 per night for this place - that is such a rip off for the level of hotel.

  • Stayed: January 2014, travelled with family
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4  Thank Samantha R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 20 January 2014

If you are looking to book a gorilla trek on your own without going through a safari company this is a great way to do it. We were able to book everything right through this lodge through the manager, Emmanuel. Along with our 3 nights full room and board, he arranged RT private transport from Kigali, transport for our gorilla trekking, transport for golden monkey trekking, and our gorilla permits! Everything was done through email and bank transfer and worked out perfectly! We were able to save quite a bit of money compared to booking through a third party safari company.

Our driver throughout the stay was Jacky, who runs the lodge with her husband (Emmanuel). She was wonderful! Such personality, and she truly cares that her "brothers and sisters- not customers" have a delightful stay. She was also able to negotiate that we trek the Susa group (which was beyond amazing!!!).

The rooms were quite comfortable, but you need to set realistic expectations. You are out in the remote mountains of Rwanda, people! Keeping that in mind you will be more than please with the cozy bed kept warm with hot water bottles, fire place, and electricity for limited hours each day. The shower had hot water, but again level set your expectations that the water pressure will not be the same as a metropolitan city. It is very cold up here, so pack accordingly.

The dining area ambiance has room for improvement, but the great food more than made up for that. Surprising selections of soups, salads, pasta, and meat dishes were served for lunch and dinner. Breakfast was a simple but filling selection of porridge, eggs made to order, meat, and fruit.

The staff here went above and beyond. They were really terrific and made us feel at home without being overbearing. They also arranged a local children's dance group to perform which was very nice. In the room you will find a pamphlet to visit the local community with a guide. We went on a village walk and it was really worthwhile. 60% of your fee goes right to the community, and the children there are heart-warming. Even with no possessions they have huge smiles and happy dispositions.

Location of the lodge is about 5 minutes drive from park entrance where you show your permit and get assigned to a gorilla group. From there you need to drive to the start of your hike (Susa is the furthest away; about one hour drive.) The overall area of Kinigi felt very safe; crime is low and the people have great character. Very glad we visited the gorillas in Rwanda, and we would def. stay at Le Bambou again if we return!

  • Stayed: December 2013, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank Katyquite
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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