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“Excellent - on so many levels”
5 of 5 bubbles Review of Virunga Lodge

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Virunga Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
Kampala, Uganda
Level Contributor
95 reviews
27 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 45 helpful votes
“Excellent - on so many levels”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 13 February 2014

The majority of visitors use the Lodge as a base for gorilla trekking but you could easily be there for two days just to take in the fantastic views.

The main living and dining area of Virunga Lodge is perched on the top of a hill. The different seating areas in and outside were a great touch. I love the African inspired décor (recently refurbished, I believe) that featured some interesting art and a great range of books. The lovely colourful cushions and open fire in the middle of the room are perfect. (It can get cold at night here).

I stayed in the Bulera banda , which has a fantastic view directly over the lake and its islands. Each room has a different view. The shower in my room was hot and powerful (and driven by solar energy).
I really loved the wood and bright colour combination of the dining room.

We all loved the food at every meal: the salmon mousse went down particularly well. (It seemed greedy to ask for more but I was very tempted!) The soups were all delicious and the desserts were original (not your standard "banana-based dessert" that is so common in many lodges in East Africa.

Apart from the excellent gorilla trekking we also watched traditional dancing by the Intore dancers, a group nurtured by the Lodge. The dancing was great fun. Some of our group also ventured down to meet the kids at the local primary school, another project supported by the Lodge.

Prices are all inclusive (three cooked meals a day plus afternoon tea and biscuits, all alcoholic drinks and a variety of community-based activities). Virunga Lodge is not the cheapest in the area, nor is it the closest to the gorilla trekking, but if you’ve travelled halfway round the world for a once-in-a-lifetime encounter with the gorillas, I would highly recommend it. (The free muddy boot-cleaning service post gorilla trekking was a nice touch - thank you.)

Room Tip: The Bulera banda has a fantastic view directly over the lake and its islands. Each room has a differ...
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  • Stayed February 2014, travelled with friends
    • Location
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Helpful?
Thank CharlieBeau
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
VolcanoesSafaris, Public Relations Manager at Virunga Lodge, responded to this review, 2 April 2014
Hi CharlieBeau,

Your comments here mean a lot to us and our staff so thank you for leaving them. The salmon mousse is definitely a favourite, that's for sure! We're happy to see that you enjoyed so much of your stay at Virunga Lodge and look forward to seeing you back soon.

Volcanoes Safaris
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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252 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 (69)
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Portuguese first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Mexico City, Mexico
Level Contributor
39 reviews
25 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 34 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 3 February 2014

We did not have great expectations for our lodging near Ruhengeri, but Virunga over-delivered. First off, the view is second to none. It's something that will stick with you forever. You have a clear view of the Parc National des Volcans and it's Volcanoes and a clear view of the surrounding lakes. Multiple vantage points within the lodge provide different breath taking views. I took some incredible time lapse footage from these places.

The rooms are very private and quaint, which helps set the tone of your visit. A different atmosphere would feel off point. The lodge's main house is very well set up and helps the guests to get to know each other, which is always interesting. Specially in a place that attracts people from many different countries. The main lodge is the only place in Virunga Lodge with Internet (poor WiFi, at that) and with electrical outlets for charging. That's a small weakness. Nothing too bad.

The staff is very serviceable and the food is OK. Not amazing. However, once again, having your meals with such amazing views, makes the meal itself an afterthought.

Virunga lodge is expensive, but I believe it's still worth it, considering the availability of premium lodging in the area. That said, It might be borderline too expensive. So, do weigh your options.

As far as the Gorilla Trek goes. Be sure to go 2 days on the Trek. We only went one day and regretted it.

  • Stayed August 2013, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank AlonsoFB
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
VolcanoesSafaris, Public Relations Manager at Virunga Lodge, responded to this review, 2 April 2014
Hi AlonsoFB,

We agree that people should trek gorillas twice as there's a tendency to only see them through the camera lens because we're all so excited when we see them. A second trip allows you time to enjoy the experience for what it is. We're glad to hear that you enjoyed the Virunga Lodge so much and we hope the timelapse footage was stunning!

Volcanoes Safaris
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
pa
Level Contributor
109 reviews
25 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 65 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 15 December 2013

Stayed here three nights when gorilla trekking. It was a bit far from where you go but I believe well worth the inconvenience. The views are to die for. You eat all your meals either inside or out with stunning views. The lodge is small like eight cabins. So at meals you all dine together at a long table. It is wonderful way to converse with others. The food was the best I had in Africa. It is Eco lodge so have to walk to lodge to charge phone and electronics. The people and service were satisfying beyond your wildest expectations. When you return from gorilla trekking they have a pair of crocs waiting for and return your boots cleaner then the day you bought them. They even wake you in the am with the beverage of your choice.

Room Tip: There all good if walking is issue for you ask for one close to the main lodge
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  • Stayed October 2013, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
2 Thank tazmania630
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Nairobi, Kenya
Level Contributor
13 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 15 December 2013

Some context to my comment: my wife and I have been living for the last two years in Nairobi and we've had the opportunity to travel across East Africa from top end hotels to regular lodges. Until now (shame on me) Ive started to give back to Tripadvisor something of all the big advices it has given to us.

Doing the gorilla trekking was on our list. we just went last november. We went on a two night trip from Nairobi (completely doable). In all truth, for this trip I did not do enough homework so I just contacted the travel agency at the hotel I normally arrive when in business visit. They turned to be quiet good, but also one of the most premium to travel into Uganda/Rwanda.
The hotel is premium. The location is quiet nice on top of a mountain and the views are very good. The rooms are spacious and clean. Service outstanding and the staff quiet friendly. Food, I would just rate it as average.

My OWN personal view is that for the Gorilla trekking experience probably you dont need to invest so much in this lodge. There are other hotels, not this premium, that can serve the purpose... because after all the gorillas is what you are planning on coming for, arent you?
I would recommend this hotel if: you dont care paying for a very premium location, you are on honey moon or you are fan of impressive lake views.

  • Stayed November 2013, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
3 Thank Maesparz
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Carlisle, Pennsylvania, United States
Level Contributor
74 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 56 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 27 November 2013

We booked with an agent who preferred we stay at another lodge- their preference- but they were booked. We did a 2 day gorilla trekking. The lodge is about a 40 minute drive to the national park where the trekking occurs, so you have to factor that into your day. It is eco-friendly so no electric in your cottage at all- you have to walk up a hill to the main lodge for access to electricity. Lights are on after 4pm- again no outlets. You get a wake up call of coffee/tea in the morning which is nice. The food was good, service was also good, but was pricey compared to other options, which also have good reviews. The views are lovely and we enjoyed meeting folks from all over the world who were staying there in one of a handful of cottages. You need to be aware that there is a lot of walking uphill to get to the lodge for your meals, etc. There is a village nearby where an American named Tom is doing amazing things with building a community center. Check it out.

Room Tip: You might want a cottage closer to the top of the hill. We were at the bottom of the hill and after...
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  • Stayed November 2013, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank atl157
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Orange County, Ca
Level Contributor
6 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
1 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 11 November 2013

Be very wary of this resort! Our reservations were CONFIRMED with a paid deposit 15 months in advance, but 2 weeks before our scheduled arrival, we received an email that the lodge had made an error and was overbooked. After many complaints, they managed to find some rooms for my group, but half of the number of rooms promised. During our stay, we discovered that other guests had reserved as recently as 3 months prior, and the company couldn't satisfactorily explain why our reservation wasn't honored. The location and service are wonderful, but definitely not worth the aggravation of last minute problems that they admittedly caused. Be very careful - the reservation process with this company is very unreliable. I would give a zero rating if possible.

  • Stayed September 2013, travelled with family
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Helpful?
1 Thank MandD2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
VolcanoesSafaris, Public Relations Manager at Virunga Lodge, responded to this review, 18 November 2013
Thank you for your comments, we always value feedback from our guests and do our best to address issues that have not worked out well. The vast majority of our clients have a great experience as can be seen from the many positive comments that are posted on TripAdvisor and from the recognition that Volcanoes Safaris receives from many publications and organisations.

Comments and feedback for the Virunga Lodge refer to it as 'spellbinding' and 'the best lodge in Africa' and routinely mention the exceptional service and outstanding staff.

Volcanoes Safaris is well known for the exceptional service it provides and for the professionalism and the thorough way with which it deals with organising clients safaris.

We fully accept that in this case the booking details went wrong, have apologised profusely and repeatedly to the group of guests involved. We have not had an instance like this before and are naturally concerned that that we have not performed to our usual high standards. We have worked very hard to supply you with the best alternative accommodation despite the lodge being very busy during high season. We appreciate that this was not ideal from a client perspective but reservations sadly do go wrong in the best of companies.

It is as a result of this desire to provide a high-quality experience that we heavily discounted the price and delivered additional complimentary activities. The additional challenge we have faced is that we have not been fully paid by the travel organiser for our services but have nevertheless sought to meet our obligations in full.

Again we value the feedback given and that has helped us tighten up our reservations procedures. Thank you.

Volcanoes Safaris
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Golden, Canada
Level Contributor
17 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 22 October 2013

I stayed 4 nights in September while trekking to see gorillas and golden monkeys as well as other sights in the area.
The main lodge is in a spectacular location and very nicely done. The individual cottage type accommodation is simple but beautifully done and has a large private terrace area with stunning views. It is an eco lodge so no plug ins are available in the private accommodation but you can charge your equipment in the main lodge. The communal bar/lounge in the main lodge is wonderfully cosy and a great place to relax and meet other travellers. In the gardens are several outdoor areas to sit and relax and enjoy the views. In the morning you can see the sun rise while having breakfast from the outside or inside dining table. The food was beautiful and the service was fantastic. I really felt spoiled, especially getting tea delivered to my room every morning with a wake up call. The staff even cleaned my hiking boots.
I really didn't want to leave this lodge and would recommend it very highly.

  • Stayed September 2013, travelled solo
    • Value
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Helpful?
2 Thank Yvonne B
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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