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“Heaven on Earth”
Review of Virunga Lodge

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Virunga Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
Chicago, IL
Level Contributor
5 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
“Heaven on Earth”
Reviewed 22 January 2008

I recently returned from a trip to Rwanda to do two gorilla treks and felt compelled to comment on two lodges I stayed in near the Volcanoes National Parc. The first is the Virunga Lodge which was heaven on earth. And because of where the lodge is situated on top of a very lodge hill I felt like I was in heaven. Especially when I sat on the porch of my cottage and watched the sun come up over a gorgeous lake. It's an ecolodge so be prepared for long-drop toilets, showers by water in a bag and limited electricity. Also be prepared for breath-taking views from the lodge and your cottage, a wonderful Rwandan atmosphere, a cozy main lodge with a nice fireplace and good wine, wonderful food and fabulous hospitality. Didas deserves a special call out for making our stay extra special right down to the gifts he gave us when we left. I want to go back. See Sabyinyo Lodge review for a different type of lodge experience.

Helpful?
1 Thank windycitygal
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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258 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
  • Sleep Quality
  • Rooms
  • Service
  • Value
  • Cleanliness
Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (71)
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English first
San Francisco, USA
Level Contributor
11 reviews
11 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 23 helpful votes
Reviewed 16 January 2008

The lodge location and views are truly spectacular and convenient for gorilla trekking trips, it's a short drive to Park HQ.
As this is a remote Eco Lodge, don't expect 24hr electricity, mains hot water, plumbing etc. That said, the staff do a wonderful job to make your stay very, very comfortable. Spotless comfortable rooms with views, morning hot water delivery and bed-warming service make this a luxury wilderness experience.
The staff are super friendly, polite and accommodating; but you should not expect 1st world luxury hotel training. The dining experience is good and wholesome, but not gourmet cuisine.

  • Liked — views, friendly staff
  • Disliked — N/A- do expect limited amenities
  • Stayed December 2006
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank hfl
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
SF
Level Contributor
262 reviews
37 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 151 helpful votes
Reviewed 3 January 2008

We stayed here as a splurge during our Gorilla tracking safari for 3 nights - heaven.
Situated on top of the hill it has fantastic views all around. On arrival, the staff met us with fresh passionfruit juice and the check in process was quick and seemless. The staff are very responsive, not obtrusive, always preparing fresh tea, coffee or juice on request. We had an all inclusive deal, and they made sure they poured us our favorite beverages and refilled the glasses as soon as the level got low.
The food was very good and fresh. they surprised us with an Indian lunch, unasked for, one afternoon as a special treat. The other guests got western food. In addition we went shopping in the local market for local vegetables and they cooked this up at the last minute for the whole group using Rwandian flavors.
The rooms are clean and the eco-toilets were good, and I am NOT a camper!!
Overall, great experience and would highly recommend.

  • Stayed December 2007, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Khaja
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Kingston, Surrey
Level Contributor
9 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
Reviewed 28 November 2007

Wow what a wondeful place. We stayed here for 3 nights whilst we went to see the mountain gorillas. It is expensive but worth every penny. It is an eco lodge so there isn't continuous electricity or hot running water (or heating!). This didn't spoil our stay though. The views from any point at the Lodge including our banda were just stunning. That alone was worth paying the extra money for. Our banda was lovely, very clean and nicely furnished. Comfy bed. The bathroom had a long drop toilet and a shower that was filled with hot water at a time to suit you and was quite rustic but still very nice. As it is cold in the mornings, the staff put a hot water bottle in your bed at night and then bring you a hot flask of tea or coffee to your room in the morning. All food was good and hearty which is what you need when you are trekking. The chef also made us a wonderful cake (we were on honeymoon) saying "Happy Marriage" which was fantastic and a real surprise! All wine and beer is included in the price and there was a good selection of Rwandan beer and South African wine. Also tea and coffee. Overall I think this is a wonderful place with wonderful staff and would recommend to anyone to stay here. There has been mention of the extra time to drive to the Gorilla trekking base as the Lodge is on the top of a hill (with a very bumpy road to get there) but it doesn't take very long in the whole scheme of things and is not something to deter you staying here. Just a brilliant and magical place.

  • Liked — Stunning views and wonderful staff
  • Disliked — Nothing!
  • Stayed September 2007, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank HandP
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
California
Level Contributor
77 reviews
20 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 67 helpful votes
Reviewed 17 August 2007

We stayed here 3 nights while gorilla trekking. If you go gorilla trekking booking with Volcanoes Lodges is a must! The lodge and food are far better than any other option. The lodge is beautiful and the accommodations were better than imagined. They have solar electricty in the rooms. Water is heated and brought to your rooms when requested so you could have a hot shower. They pack a lunch for you when you are trekking that make other trekkers envious as they eat their bland sandwich. The staff is so genuine and accommodating it made the stay even better. The guide was also exceptional. I cannot praise this lodge enough. You have to see it for yourself. It is located in one of the prettiest places I have ever been to.

  • Liked — the location
  • Stayed August 2007, travelled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank leo28
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
331 reviews
305 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 492 helpful votes
Reviewed 29 June 2007

We stayed here for 3 nights as part of a one week's Gorilla Trecking holiday in Rwanda and Uganda. The lodge is owned by the company Volcano Safaris, who also arranged all our transportation and permits in both countries. Our guide was excellent and we have only good memories of Volcano Safaris Limited.
The lodge is set on top of a hill with the most fantastic views of the surrounding countryside (see photos). It is about a 15 min drive to the Park Headquarters and so is further away than the Gorillas Nest. However, its location is worth the drive and according to other people we spoke to the comfort is much better at Virunga Lodge.
Our cottage came complete with an en-suite bathroom. The toilet is of the long-drop type, but it never smelt. Showers are bush-type, as there is limited electricity (solar powered) and so you need to ask for one about 30 mins in advance. One of the lodge staff then fills the bag and off you go. There was always enough hot water for my husband and I to have a good long shower.
The cottages can get a bit cool at night but a hot water bottle was placed in our beds as we retired. The linen was very clean and our verandah was perfect for resting on after a hard day's trecking.
The accommodation was on an all-inclusive deal and so all meals were provided. Breakfast was hearty, lunch was a picnic and dinner was very good. All drinks (including spirits) were also included and so we enjoyed some very good Rwandan beers and South African wine around the huge fire every evening in the main lodge building.
The staff could not have been more friendly, helpful and efficient. Laundry was also included with my husband accidently leaving quite a bit of local money in his pocket. This was quickly returned. The staff also cleaned our boots every evening. In fact we were treated like royalty.
After our 2 days trecking in Rwanda we drove to Uganda for another 2 days. We would certainly recommend Rwanda for Gorilla sightings above Uganda as the family groups always seemed to be nearer, the trecking was not so arduous and there were fewer tourists.
We were in the area during the rainy season, which is a good time, as the gorillas are to be found lower down the mountains. We were told that as the area becomes drier their favourite food becomes more scarce to find and so they move higher up the mountains and toward more light. It did rain every afternoon, but only for a few minutes and always after we had finished trecking.
Tips for gorilla trecking include, good walking boots, gaiters and thick gardening gloves. Insects or leaches were not a problem.
It may be very expensive to see gorillas but we thought it worth every penny. There are only about 750 mountain gorillas left in the wild, so go and go quickly.

Stayed May 2006
Helpful?
3 Thank heb999
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 17 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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