Known as the ‘Land of a Thousand Hills', it is impossible for Rwanda not to amaze event delegates with its picture-postcard landscapes and hypnotising views.
Home to three National Parks, five volcanoes, 23 lakes and 670 species of birds, Rwanda’s diverse landscape is a dazzling combination of rainforests and savannah, all within easy reach from the capital city.
BI WORLDWIDE’s Event Professionals Katrina Rannard and Teresa Allen were able to spend some of their time in Rwanda experiencing the countryside with its natural charm and beauty laid bare, checking out the type of activities and accommodation available that could wow delegates even more!
Located in the north of Rwanda, close to the Volcanoes National Park, Virunga Lodge became ‘home’ for Katrina and Teresa during their stay. Perched on top of a hill with an almost 360 degree panoramic view of the twin lakes and Virunga volcanoes, the eco-lodge with its ten individual rooms is famed for its breathtakingly beautiful location and triumphed at the 2016 World Boutique Hotel Awards for the Best Romantic Retreat.
The lodge is also recognised for its minimal environmental impact through the use of solar hot water systems, harvested rainwater and its support for the local community. The lodge has initiated many successful projects, from providing every family in the nearby village with a sheep, to donating and installing large water tanks for families to collect rainwater for daily use. In addition to this, the lodge provides work for 32 locals and supports the local school with supplies and donations.
Teresa comments: “Whilst you need a 4x4 vehicle to navigate the last ten minutes of the journey up to the lodge, you can tell you are on the way to somewhere very special. Arriving in the dark, we had absolutely no idea where we were but the surprise we got in the morning when we opened the door was simply jaw-dropping. ‘Wow’ was the only word that sprang to mind.”
Katrina comments: “Our stay at the lodge was made all the more perfect by the wonderful, friendly staff and the impeccable presentation and quality of the food. We were certainly looked after very well.”
During their trip, Katrina and Teresa had the chance to inspect a couple of alternative lodges located closer to the monkey and gorilla trekking base.
Katrina comments: “There are a number of lodges in the area suitable for groups, which vary in budget and size from 12 rooms to 29 rooms. They are tastefully decorated with local craftwork, from gorilla wood carvings to beautiful landscape paintings and have stunning outdoor spaces with views of the local volcanoes. There are rumours that some new lodges might be in the pipeline for the near future, one of which being a luxurious international brand suggesting it will have 50 rooms. It’s definitely worth watching out for these exciting developments.”
Golden Monkey Trekking
Rwanda offers a rare opportunity for visitors to trek and view golden monkeys in their natural habitat amongst the rich bamboo forests. Listed as an endangered species, the golden monkeys are only found in the Virunga Mountains which span the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda and Rwanda. Groups of 15 visitors are allowed to spend up to one hour with the monkeys.
Teresa comments: “The trek provided a fantastic opportunity to be amongst Rwanda’s natural environment passing through farm land and muddy footpaths until we finally reached the bamboo forest. Whilst the terrain wasn’t too strenuous, the hardest part was trying to avoid the mud and boggy parts! Our guide was in constant radio contact with the trackers that had gone ahead to locate the monkeys so we didn’t have to go on a ‘wild monkey chase’. We were told that there were 150 monkeys in the troupe, but they were all spread out so we only got glimpses of half a dozen at one time. It was easy to hear the rustle of the monkeys as they sprang about the trees and ate the bamboo shoots, but the vegetation was fairly dense so it was sometimes difficult to see them in detail. I’ve certainly learnt that wildlife photographers need to be patient and very quick!”
Katrina comments: “The monkeys were great fun to watch as they jumped about the forest and walked towards the end of the bamboo canes in order to make them bend down so that they could spring on to the neighbouring cane for more food. We were also privileged to see a herd of buffalo on our way back down the mountain path. Unfortunately, the buffalo were not too friendly, which resulted in us having to take a rather large detour on ‘the path less travelled’ a.k.a. ‘off-track’ through vegetation that was as tall as our shoulders at some points. It was an unexpected but exciting adventure to add to the list of experiences.”