With only a few hundred mountain gorillas left in the world, there is no wonder that passionate travellers, nature lovers, and experience seekers are adding gorilla trekking to their bucket lists. The 600 or so individual apes that remain in the wild world dwell solely in the central African rainforest occupied by Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Rwanda, and they are fiercly protected by conservation laws, and ethical tourism. Wilderness Safaris has taken their famous blueprint for luxury lodges in prime locations and recently invested in Rwanda’s lush Virunga region where brand new Bisate Lodge is now open as a Premier Camp offering not only the highly sought after gorilla trekking, but a whole host of activities, which contribute to the support and development of the local environment and rural communities.
The name, Bisate, which means “pieces” in the local language, reflects the lay of the land, which could be described as the eroded aftermath of what was once a whole volcanic cone. The lodge is located near to the Volcanoes National Park headquarters, making it ideally close to where guests will begin their gorilla trekking experience. Bisate Lodge has 6 forest villas, keeping things exclusive and private, and of course, supremely luxurious.
The 6 villas are constructed with the local environment at the forefront of the design. Textures, fabrics, and the use of space and positioning come together to mould the suites into idyllic, natural cocoons, which remain true to the Rwandan culture. Each villa has a bedroom, reception area and bathroom with a central fireplace and a private deck, peeking out of the lush vegetation on the tangled mountainside, overlooking this rare and special Albertine Rift landscape.
The gorilla trekking is something that might attract most guests travelling to these Rwandan forests, and this experience is certainly a breath-taking, cherished, and unforgettable one. The mountain gorilla adult males are silverbacks, and their 260kg presence is nothing short of remarkable. The gorilla trekking experiences contribute to the conservation of this critically endangered species, and we can only recommend it as an activity!
Bisate Lodge has developed such a fantastic model, which incorporates Wilderness Safaris’ 4Cs concept perfectly: Commerce, conservation, community, and culture. Through developing the lodge, over 15 000 indigenous trees were planted; a couple of hundred local people were temporarily employed, while others were trained as staff; a reforestation program is in progress to build on Volcanoes natural habitat, which in turn increases the much needed habitat for the critically endangered mountain gorilla.
Some of the other activities offered at Bisate cover so many elements of this unique and diverse country: Guided hikes in Volcanoes National Park; visit to Dian Fossey’s grave and research centre; community tour; tree planting and nursery visit; trekking for the endemic golden monkey; Rwandan tea and coffee tasting; wine tasting; and guided nature and birding walks. There is no shortage of things to do, making the most of this ancient Rift Valley mountain range.