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“Volcanoes Safaris Virunga Lodge - magnificent!” 5 of 5 bubbles
Review of Virunga Lodge

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Virunga Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
Whistler
Level Contributor
88 reviews
62 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 91 helpful votes
“Volcanoes Safaris Virunga Lodge - magnificent!”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 20 March 2011

The start of our 16 day trip with Volcanoes Safaris - what a start!
The Lodge is magnificent - 360 degree views of volcanoes, lakes and the most beautiful countryside.
The accomodation in very private bandas is over the top. Private view terrace, views from every room - including the bath! Great linens and staff that are amazing.
You can also visit the local school - stop and buy pens and notebooks in Kigali for them.
The 2 days we spent with the gorillas - one of the best experiences ever - and we have travelled alot.
If you can - stay here and use Volcanoes Safaris for your trip. Ask for Moses as your guide.

  • Stayed February 2011, travelled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
2 Thank WanderingCdns
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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249 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (67)
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English first
Boston, Massachusetts
Level Contributor
19 reviews
14 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 154 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 7 March 2011

My wife and I stayed at Virunga Lodge for 5 nights, beginning 25-Dec 2010. Our room was Cyahafi, also known as room #3. We had a view toward the east, and we had amazing sunrises over the lake almost every morning. Each day when we were gorilla tracking or going on hikes we were gently awoken at 5 am with tea or coffee and biscuits (ordered the night before at dinner). Breakfast at 5:30 (also ordered the night before) was a selection of local fruits, toasts, and a choice of eggs or oatmeal. There wasn't anything terribly special about the breakfast, but the fruit was fresh, the eggs cooked to order, and was always just enough to get one ready for a big day ahead. Before leaving for the day the staff also supplied box lunches, which were always way too much to eat. They included a sandwich; a hard-boiled egg; an empanada; a banana and/or pineapple spear; and a box of juice. (We shared ours with our driver, and others at the lodge gave the lunches to their porters for the day.)

After arriving back from hiking the staff would greet you with smiles, swap out your muddy boots for clean clogs, and by the time we'd get back from dinner the boots would be in our banda waiting for us, clean as a whistle. The afternoons were lovely to relax on the patio reading, taking in some of the trails around the lodge, or heading up to the main lounge area for a drink or to read a book. My wife and I never even got our complimentary massages; we were more than happy to sit on the lodge's deck and looking at the gorgeous Virungas. Most of the guests gathered around the fire by 6 pm to share a drink and the stories of the day. At seven we'd gather in the dining room and continue making new friends. I'd rate the dinner meals at above average -- not world class, but a good mixture. Being there 5 nights we saw several different meals come by, but our favorite was the Christmas Night meal of a traditional Rwandan barbecue. It included chicken, pork, beef, and goat. Other nights were more standard "Western" fare, with a meat or fish, potato or rice, and a veg. There were several vegetarians staying at the Lodge during our stay, and the chef was always happy to accommodate those requests.

The banda we stayed in was AMAZING! The bathroom was spacious with incredible views of Lake Burera. The water is all solar heated, and perhaps it was due to cloudy days the last days we were there, but we didn't have hot water a couple of times. Also, our first couple of nights we had some problems sleeping as there seemed to be a creature scurrying across the roof. (One of the staff said it was the local cat, although I was skeptical as it sounded like it was between the ceiling and the roof tiles.) Either way, it would go on its way after a few minutes, and after the 2nd night we never heard it again. Keep in mind that the bandas do NOT have any outlets in them at all. If you bring anything with you that needs to be plugged in you'll need to utilize the powerstrip outlets in either the lounge or their office.

But the wonderful experience at Virunga Lodge really begins and ends with the staff. Their smiling, warm faces made every minute we spent at the lodge a real treat. From the moment we arrived, when we were greeted with smiling faces and open arms, all the way through to our sad departure, we felt entirely welcomed and cared for. I was continually amazed by how the entire staff seemed to be 5 steps ahead of us! From the cleaning of our boots after our hikes and treks, to the chef coming down to our room for our nightly dining options, to the wonderful turn-down service (and ESPECIALLY the hot water bottles in the bed!), we felt pampered every minute we were there. They also kept our room well-stocked with drinking water, and always knew when we may need a hand with bags, a flashlight, or information on the town.

One note about the travel to/from the Lodge. It's about a 10-15 minute drive from the main road outside Musanze to Virunga Lodge, depending on your driver. It's a dirt, rutted road that often has steep drop-offs on both sides. For those that are susceptible to car sickness or motion sickness, you may want to hit some Dramamine before the ride. But that definitely shouldn't stop you from going!

While this may have been our first visit to Rwanda, it most certainly won't be our last. My wife and I are already anticipating our next trip to see the gorillas, and when we do, it'll be hard not to stay at Virunga Lodge again.

  • Stayed December 2010, travelled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
4 Thank MookieDoug
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Kailua-Kona, Hawaii
Level Contributor
55 reviews
15 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 25 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 12 January 2011

We were on Volcanoes Safari 8 day trip. It was fantastic. Virunga was our first lodge. What a location this lodge has. We had views of a lake on one side and views of the 5 volcanoes on the other. The staff were so nice and attentive that we felt at home. Our driver Sam who we had for the 8 days was excellent. I'm a vegetarian and they made the most amazing meals for me. Then you get to see the gorillas. It was a trip of a life time.

  • Stayed November 2010, travelled with friends
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank konatourguide
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
United States
Level Contributor
14 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 27 December 2010

My mother and I stayed at Virunga Lodge in 2007. It is the most beautiful place on earth! We awoke each morning to the birds chirping and to the cow mooing in the distance from the farm below. The views of the volcanoes were incredible. The chef was trained in French cooking, so we had delicious meals every day. We had a hot shower each morning. Our dirty cothing was sent our, washed, dried, and folded in our rooms within a day. David the lodge manager was very hospitable. Our guide, Paul R. was incredibly knowledgeable and very kind. After a day of gorilla treking, my mother who was 69 years old, was very exhausted so much so that we were concerned about her health. Paul stayed until after dark to make sure that she was alright and did not need a doctor. We had a lovely time at the lodge. Well worth the price for this once in a lifetime vacation.

  • Stayed February 2010, travelled with family
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank lpeacock1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Swindon, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
39 reviews
18 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 8 November 2010

The views are incredible, the staff eager to please. The champagne and cake in our room on arrival for our wedding anniversary was a lovely surprise and the cake very tasty. We were apprehensive about the bathroom facilities but the loos are flushing and the solar shower provided ample hot water for both of us to shower even on overcast and cloudy days. The food is simple but tasty and plenty of it, the bar area cozy with the firepit though don't take a book to read in there as the light is very dim in the evening. Staff cannot do enough for you, the massage was excellent and much needed after a days trekking and the boot cleaning service if you go Gorilla trekking is a very nice touch, don't think my boots have ever been so clean! Its not cheap but it is worth every penny to wake up to the most spectacular views

  • Stayed September 2010, travelled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank sll63
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Crows Nest, Australia
Level Contributor
52 reviews
20 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 83 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 6 November 2010

We recently stayed here for 3 nights while gorilla trekking. Our agent recommended this because of the views and the price being less than the higher priced ones closer to the park headquarters. I can't really express how much we loved staying here .

I had read that some of the bungalows had been newly renovated with plumbing, so we requested one. I do not know if all of them are the same, so you may want to ask. Our bungalow was very large with a big patio in the front, large bedroom with enough room for a sitting area and a desk, and more. The bathroom was large, had two sinks, a big shower and flush toilet. There was hot water, but it took a
l-o-n-g time to come out of the faucet. Everything here is solar, so hot water and electricity is limited. Since we took our showers in the afternoon after returning from the trek, we had hot water. I think one night we wanted a later shower and didn't have hot water. Some people might not be satisfied with this, because although it was less expensive than the higher priced option, it is still pretty expensive. BUT, we think it was well worth the price to stay here. Taking into consideration how much it cost to build this the way it is, how much to keep it running so smoothly in this area, and that the locals really do benefit from it, I can't call it too expensive.

The lodge is about 45 minutes drive from the park headquarters. In spite of the really terrible, bumpy road up the hill, we enjoyed the drive, because it was just so beautiful and so interesting to drive through the villages and town, especially since early in the morning everyone is up and about, going here and there, and the roads are just full of people. The lodge itself is up on a ridge overlooking two beautiful lakes, and all the villages below, plus the 5 volcanos. The views are absolutely stunning and worth every penny we paid just to be able to enjoy them over and over. In fact, other lodges and guides bring their guests up here just to look at the views, but nothing could beat being able to see the every day.

The staff is just wonderful. The chef even comes down to the bungalow personally to tell you what is on the menu and get your order for dinner! The communal areas are lovely, well decorated, comfortable, and cozy. The food was very good for Africa, and the staff was shy but professional. And they really care about doing a good job. They all came down to welcome us, and then again to say farewell when we had to leave. I'm sure that all of them are from the local villages.

The locals also have one of the two best dance troupes in Rwanda, and they will perform for the guests on the big grassy plot above the lodge, which is actually now used also as a helicopter pad for transfer to and from Kigali. I highly, highly recommend going to the dance performance as it is just wonderful, and performed by several dozen young people, and a musician. Very colorful, professional, beautiful and lively. The dancers will come over to you personally and explain the meanings of the different dances.

We did the loop walk around the front of the property, and as soon as they saw us, about 15 village children came running up the hill to meet and talk with us. It was just the warmest, most wonderful experience, including one of the children even singing a lovely song for us.

I heard from one of the guests that the massage offered was very good, but was so taken with the beauty that I kept forgetting to book one.

As with most African lodges, they do laundry and clean your shoes after trekking.

I could not recommend Virunga Lodge more highly, and hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

  • Stayed September 2010, travelled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
3 Thank tinydancer2010
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Atlanta, GA
Level Contributor
23 reviews
18 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 35 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 22 October 2010

An amazing place in an amazing country. Virunga Lodge is a special place - beautiful views, accomodations and people. We were picked up by Francis of Volcanoes Safaris at Kigali Int'l Airport. Nevermind that Kenya Airways gave up our confirmed seats and we were 3 hours late. Francis waited for us and went above and beyond. He was our guide for five nights and couldn't have been better - patient, informative and affable. Good guy. At the lodge, Balam, Dedas, Ronnie, Grison, Lubin, Reuben and especially Robert were equally great. My wife loved Robert!
The gorilla treks are beyond words, but the people are what make Rwanda stand apart. We visit Mwiko primary near the lodge and I wish we had visited Musanze for a day.
We'll remember this trip for the rest of our lives. Thanks for making it so memorable.

  • Stayed September 2010, travelled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank DonnieKat
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Virunga Lodge

Property: Virunga Lodge
Address: Lake Bulera, Ruhengeri, Rwanda
Region: Rwanda > Northern Province > Musanze District > Ruhengeri
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 16 Speciality Lodging in Ruhengeri
Number of rooms: 8
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
In a spectacular location overlooking the Virunga volcanoes and shimmering lakes Ruhondo and Bulera.The magnificent Virunga Safari Lodge, set on a stunning hillside, has eight bandas with a panoramic view of the Virunga volcanoes and the lakes Ruhondo and Bulera. The terraced gardens on this high ridge are now well established, with a magical sunken paradise garden as their focal point. Aside from gorilla tracking , clients can climb a volcano, track the golden monkey, visit Dian Fossey's grave or go for gentle strolls around the picturesque villages near the lakes. Three hours' drive from Kigali or a long day's drive from Kampala. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Virunga Hotel Ruhengeri
Virunga Lodge Rwanda/Ruhengeri

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