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“Far exceeded our expectations” 5 of 5 bubbles
Review of Virunga Lodge

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Virunga Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
Cincinnati, Ohio
Level Contributor
12 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
“Far exceeded our expectations”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 14 August 2013

After spending two weeks in Kenya, often staying in very basic accommodations that were below US standards, we were agog every minute in Rwanda, and the Virunga Lodge was spectacular in every way. The views of two beautiful lakes and volcanos in three countries (Rwanda, Uganda and DRC) were out of this world. All Trip Advisor ratings below the top level were from 2009. It is well worth the extra driving up the mountainside as it is not close to the gorilla trekking. There is a 5 AM wakeup call with a tap on the door (with tea and coffee), a full breakfast at the lodge with interesting people and on your way to the thrill of the gorilla or golden monkey trekking. The lodge will provide gators if needed, box lunches (as well as lunch back at the lodge), gratis wine & beer or whatever you want, and a free massage. The traditional dance performance was not to be missed. A++++.

  • Stayed August 2013, 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?
3 Thank karaben
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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249 reviews from our community

Traveller rating
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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)
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Portuguese first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Banstead, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
16 reviews
14 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 12 August 2013

Rwanda (the land of a thousand hills) was just so green, clean and beautiful. The local people and children we met were just wonderful. Virunga Lodge was just stunning and only wish we had stayed there longer but we moved to a nearer lodge for the gorilla trekking but in hind sight it would have been better to travel the extra 45mins to one hour every day. (The other lodge was a bit of a let down)
The drive up to the steep mountain to the lodge was spectacular and we loved the children running up to us singing and waving.
The staff were there ready to welcome you back. We all sat together for the evening meal, the food was delicious and the conversations exciting all relaying our safari or gorilla trekking experiences. The rooms and bathrooms were a good size. Loved eating our breakfast which is made to order of course just taking in the wonderful views and tranquillity.

Room Tip: all rooms have lovely views
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  • Stayed July 2013, travelled with family
    • 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 LesleyHickman_12
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Eagan, Minnesota, United States
Level Contributor
6 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 3 August 2013

The location, views from the hill-top overlooking the twin lakes and mountains and the accommodations all make this a highly recommended lodge when gorilla trekking. The staff is very friendly and welcoming. The food is delicious whether as a packed lunch to go along on the trek, happy hour snacks or dinner in the cozy and nicely decorated dining room. Communal dinners are served at a large table that is still conducive to good conversation along with ample wine or other beverages of choice. My banda was spacious, beautiful and clean and made me wish that the wake up call wasn't at 5 AM! I really appreciate the eco-lodge commitment and support for the local community. It's great to be able to enjoy luxury and feel good about contributing to the local economy and education for the young people of the village.

  • Stayed July 2013, travelled solo
    • 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?
1 Thank Cheryl N
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 31 July 2013 via mobile

My husband & I stayed at Virunga Lodge after our trip to see the gorillas!
The view from our room was exquisite!
As soon as we'd settled in to our room lunch was laid out for us. Private dining overlooking the lake- perfect!
For dinner we were seated in the restaurant round one table with the other guests. It was a lovely experience chatting with everyone about their holiday experiences.
The food was fantastic! Credit to the chefs having to work with limited electricity & producing such lovely food.
Only negative we could say was we didn't stay long enough!

  • Stayed June 2013
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Fionalouuk
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Boca Raton, FL
Level Contributor
32 reviews
30 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 34 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 30 July 2013

This lodge is remote and is all about gorilla treks. Rwanda reminds me of Italy in Africa with bad roads. There are magnificent hills with terraced farmlands and clear lakes. Rwanda is a beautiful country, where the entire population spends a day per month cleaning up the country. As a result, Kigali is the cleanest big city I have seen in Africa. In some areas it is Tokyo or Geneva clean. The Virunga mountains are the jewel of this beautiful country, and the Lake Bulera region is the showpiece of the Virunga area. So the setting of the lodge is spectacular.(see photos) It is doubly remote as it is at the top of a winding, scenic, mountain dirt road. But it is located very convenient to the base for the gorilla treks.
The lodge has no electric outlets in the units, so there is no hair dryers, ladies. Because of the mountain location, the mornings and nights are cool. The food is truly local farm to table and the prep is excellent. Avocados are a big local crop, so we had an excellent Mexican lunch with guacamole. The meals were very much home cooked, with a highly skilled touch. The food was terrific. The lodge and the walkway to the lodge has a view that reminded me of the Lake region of Italy. The entire Virunga area is spotlessly clean.
The dining area is intimate and has outdoor dining options for lunch. The outdoor tables are serene with magnificent views. The setting for dinner and breakfast is communal, and we enjoyed the company of the people we met at the lodge--professional photographers, businessmen, private investigators, honeymooners, and nongovernmental organization executives. They hailed from Europe, Australia, North America and Asia.
The scenery in the lodge area was wildflowers (see photo) and lake scenery. There was no direction to turn to that was not scenic. The high altitude meant that mosquitos were not a problem.
The service and staff were excellent, and there was decent wifi and electricity for recharging batteries and smartphones. There are afternoon activities, and we chose to see the local village which was colorful and fascinating. I also had a massage, which was okay, and complementary other than a tip that I gave the masseuse.
The lodge is all about the extraordinary gorilla treks, so I will include my observations about those treks. They are reputed to be extremely arduous, but some of that is because they take place at an altitude of 8000 plus feet. The treks last as long as it takes to find the gorilla family. My wife and I took two treks in two days, on the basis that if we didn't have a great trek on the one hour in one day, we wanted an insurance trek. We signed up for medium to hard trekking, but the treks both took around forty-five minutes. It is hiking uphill and some of the terrain is uneven and dense, but it was not that hard, and my wife and I are not super athletes, and are in our mid fifties.
The gorilla guides we had were both excellent, and there were porters available to carry camera equipment and water. There is also an armed forces escort with automatic weapons to each group of up to 8 tourists who are assigned to each of the gorilla families. The submachine guns are supposed to be to fire in the air in the event of forest elephants or cape buffalo. In contrast to many situations, being on a larger group of tourists is not bad, as the bigger tourist groups (7 or 8) tend to be assigned to the larger gorilla families. The gorillas were magnificent, both fearsome looking and gentle, playful, emotional and mischievous. There were touching scenes between the young gorillas and the silverbacks. (see photos) It was a magical experience and worth all the trouble and travel. The Virunga lodge is an excellent choice to facilitate that experience.
My only criticism besides the warning about the eco lodge having no hair dryers or electric outlets in the units is that while the staff and service were wonderful, we did not have much interaction with the managers of the lodge. It is not a big deal, or necessarily a disadvantage but it was remarkable for a lodge of such a small size.
I highly recommend this lodge. It is beautiful and serene with great food and service and you will meet fascinating guests. It is a memorable place.

Room Tip: they are excellent. A lake view room can be requested, but there is little advantage as the sun ris...
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  • Stayed July 2013, 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
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
3 Thank safaridoc
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
New York
Level Contributor
8 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 29 July 2013

Rwanda is an absolutely beautiful country, and Virunga is like the icing on the cake. The view from our bedroom/bathroom/veranda was absolutely spectacular... the lake is just beyond beauitful. Our first day there, we went for a hike down to the lake, which was great - passing by the school that Virunga helps fund, seeing all the kids that live on the mountain, etc. And then we did two days of gorilla trekking (I highly recommend going more than once - it was great seeing the difference between the families, and our second day was about 10x better than the first, as we were assigned a family with three babies (each around 1 1/2 years old) and they spent the entire hour we were with them playing/fighting/wrestling - it was adorable).

The lodge itself was amazing, and the service was spectacular. From the guide who led us on our hike (Vencent, who was great) to the people serving drinks, etc. And it was great coming back after a long day hiking and getting a complementary massage. I would have loved to have stayed at the lodge for longer.

One tip - if it's a clear night, you might want to wake up around midnight-2 for a short while to take a look at the stars. Rumor has it (although we slept through our one clear night) that when it's clear you can see the Milky Way.

Room Tip: Definitely ask for a room with a view of the lake... it's spectacular.
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  • Stayed July 2013, travelled with friends
    • 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 Jessica T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Level Contributor
5 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 13 July 2013

What an unbelievable place, in an in unbelievable location. We arrived in Kigali and were greeted by our guide Martin who was so friendly and informative. We made the 3 hour drive to the lodge which turned out to be beautiful up through the mountains of Rwanda. The lodge is situated on top of a mountain and the views are breathtaking. The staff was amazing, so attentive and every detail thought of. Complimentary massage was one of the best in my life. I am highly recommending this place to my friends. GO!

  • Stayed July 2013
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank Katiekmj1
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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