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“Mountain Gorilla's Nest” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Gorilla's Nest Hotel

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Gorilla's Nest Hotel
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P.O.box 79, Ruhengeri, Rwanda   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #1 of 2 Hotels in Ruhengeri
Auckland, New Zealand
Top Contributor
94 reviews 94 reviews
13 hotel reviews
Reviews in 35 cities Reviews in 35 cities
45 helpful votes 45 helpful votes
“Mountain Gorilla's Nest”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed June 27, 2010

I stayed here for 4 days with a small group of us who were going gorilla trekking and really enjoyed it. As another reviewer has said it is a series of bungalows surrounded by eucalyptus and other trees so is in very pretty surroundings with views of the mountains. The service is excellent and the staff are very friendly and helpful. The food is reasonably good, however being a strict vegetarian lots of places in Rwanda struggled to give me choices. One seriously good top tip however is to get the hotel to clean your walking boots, costs hardly anything and they are back in a couple of hours ready for the next day's walking and are near spotless. The hotel is also very close to the ORTPN office in the Volcanoes National Park so you don't have to get up at the crack of dawn as you do if you are staying further away.

  • Stayed September 2009
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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48 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    3 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4 of 5 stars
  • Value
    3 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    3.5 of 5 stars
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English first
London, United Kingdom
Top Contributor
82 reviews 82 reviews
37 hotel reviews
Reviews in 44 cities Reviews in 44 cities
75 helpful votes 75 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed June 16, 2010

Came to Ruhengeri with gf after a month on business in Kigali to do the gorialla trek and see a bit of the volcanoes park area of Rwanda. Arranged 4 nights at G-N as part of the deal through an agent in Kigali. Ok, first off if you're going to Ruhengeri just to do a goriall trek, I recommend only staying in the area the night before the trek, then do the trek and the cultural village if you have time, then leave. Unless you're an avid hiker or want to do multiple wildlife treks, you will exhaust Ruhengeri's potential in a day. The time is much better spent in the Gisenyi area on Lake Kivu in my opinion.

Good things about the G-N: It's very close to the ranger station where all the treks (gorilla and otherwise) originate from. Considering your showtime is 7am regardless of type of trek, being closer is preferable. The grounds of the hotel are massive and pretty, so you can go for a bit of trekking on your own and never even leave the property. The hotel has its own 18-hole golf course with club. The staff is very helpful and amiable. The food in the restaurant is good and reliable. The cleanliness of the rooms was excellent, as was the room cleaning service.

Bad things: isolated and fairly far from Ruehngeri proper, so if you want to eat anywhere but the hotel restaurant you'll need wheels. Ruehngeri is about a 15min drive away. The breakfast was pretty limited in choice; I didn't expect a Serena hotel experience, but a few more fruit juices (or fruits in general) would have been nice. Noninclusive alcohol is expensive (more so than in Kigali) and the wine offered is not worth the price. Stick to local beers and water/sodas. Overall the G-N seems like an old hotel that's long past its prime, so I was shocked to discover it was only built in 2003! It seems much older than that. The golf course is in disrepair, the golf club is closed, they no longer offer massage services, the internet no longer works, and so on. The grounds are nice and well-maintained, but that's all this place has left of what must have been a pretty short heyday considering it's only 7 years old. The rooms are spartan, furnished with IKEA-looking box kit furniture, very poorly lighted (bring your own lamp if you want to read, as well as a flashlight for power failures), and of course no TVs or phones in the room. The bungalows closer to the main building are "under renovation" (although I never saw any work actually being done on them so I think in reality they're just another decaying part of the hotel), so you'll probably be put in the back area across the footbridge and overlooking the disused golf course, which is a bit of a hike if it's raining. The sad thing is, it wouldn't take all that much to make this place very competitive -- throw out all the IKEA furniture and faux Persian rugs, re-furnish the whole place with locally-made furniture, art, rugs, crafts, wall-hangings and such, and organize some evening BBQs or pig roasts with entertainment, some star-gazing in the disused golf course (or even get that working again!) get the masseuse and the pro shop back up, and this place would be stiff competition for the Virunga Lodge (and wouldn't require an all-terrain vehicle to drive to). But alas there it sits, quietly slipping into hotel oblivion. Sad.

  • Stayed June 2010, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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3 reviews 3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 3, 2010

I think the Gorilla's nest has been renovated and certainly has changed managers since some of the older more critical reviews, so I'd like to set the record straight that the complementary things said in recent reviews are, in my experience, more accurate. The rooms are absolutely huge and perfectly comfortable, the location beautiful and minutes from the national park HQ, the food is excellent and the staff delightful. The manager is a very pleasant South African who went out of his way to help us and overall we had a highly memorable and relaxing stay.

The hotel is a series of pretty bungalows set in a beautiful lush garden surrounded by Eucalyptus trees at the entrance to the stunning Virunga national park. The $300 a night for a double includes 3 excellent meals (and lots provided to feed hungry walkers/intrepid gorilla trackers!) plus all soft drinks, unlimited waters and excellent local beers. The wine is $3 for a glass of the cheaper stuff (to our amusement we discovered it was boxed, yet pretty decent) and for about $7 a glass there is some extremely good wine available - unusual for hotels in Rwanda. We were apprehensive at first but left feeling it was definitely worth the money - particularly as this is basically an expensive area to stay in with other lodges costing $500 - $800 a night (insane!) and with gorilla tracking permits at $500 a pop this just isn't something one does on a tight budget. It is also much better to pay more to stay near the park rather than leave kigali or gisenyi at some unearthly hour for an equally unearthly fee...!

Everything is geared around visiting the national park, so breakfast is from 6am - pastries, bread, cooked options like eggs and bacon, great coffee, delicious fresh fruit. Brian, the manager, took us to the park HQ for the morning briefing - which he helpfully explained happens in Rwandan time, so more like 715 - 730 than 7, giving us longer to eat breakfast and on New Year's Day, sleep! It is necessary to have your own transport to get to the start of the various tracking/hiking trails in the park and be collected at the end, which Brian helpfully did for a very small fee.

He also drove us to the local "cultural centre" - a village that once made its living from poaching and now runs a fantastic project to show visitors traditional local customs and now works to preserve the wildlife rather than kill it. It's a worthwhile project and a lot of fun to visit - at first it was a little baffling and seemed like it might be a bit cringey, but turned out to be wonderful and so hilarious we all hurt from laughing after 2 hours of unbelievably enthusiastic story telling, dancing, medicine-making, corn-grinding, archery, knife-forging and impressive thespian antics from our young guide as he acted out various scenes from the life of the king, getting the giggles when he got to the bedchamber or had to explain about love potions. The local children came to watch, sitting quietly in neat rows as the amazing show unfolded, and it seemed it was almost as fascinating for them as it was for the clueless muzungu!

All in all i would highly recommend the Gorilla's Nest; no it is not kitted out like the Hilton but is all the better for it; instead it is a haven of tranquility in an exceptionally beautiful and fascinating area of a wonderful country. We were however told there are future renovations planned so for those wanted more luxury there will be the option, plus other facilities in addition to the spa and slightly wild golf course it already has. Maybe they'll even get a credit card machine.... we live in hope. Definitely one to watch!

  • Stayed December 2009, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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New York City, New York
13 reviews 13 reviews
11 hotel reviews
Reviews in 11 cities Reviews in 11 cities
31 helpful votes 31 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed October 7, 2009

MGN is a somewhat unusually situated place, just off a main road in a stand of eucalyptus trees, with a circle of cottages near the main building and a line of long buildings off to the side, across a footbridge. (The whole complex is shaped like a lowercase i.) We were actually at the very end of the line of buildings, 5 minutes from the main building. There was hardly anyone else staying at MGN when we were there, so it felt a little bit forlorn out where we were, especially at night. The room itself was spacious and clean, and the views of the mountains from the grounds are quite nice. There were flocks of guinea fowl and several lone ibis hanging around.

The service at the front desk and in the dining room was very good. The hot face towels we received whenever we returned were a nice touch, and the waitstaff was enthusiastic and friendly. Our first night we came back from dinner to find a hot water bottle in our bed--a lovely treat in the chill mountain air. The next night our luck got even better, as we were given two hot water bottles. The third night, mysteriously, we didn't get any at all, and by the time we had walked back to the room in the dark, we didn't much relish the idea of going all the way back to the main building to look for one.

MGN was a full-board accommodation for us. The food was a little hit-or-miss; as you'd expect, the local dishes (Rwandese beef stew, for instance) were uniformly better than the pastas, etc. that round out the menu. If you'll be there for more than a couple of days, you might want to go into Kinigi to check out what other eating options are available.

Most people who stay here are no doubt going gorilla tracking. The PNV headquarters for doing so are 10 minutes away by car. (But then you have to drive to the park itself, which can take an hour or more.) Unfortunately, we couldn't fit golden monkey tracking into our schedule, so we don't know how far away the meeting point is for that. MGN is also not very far from the market in Kinigi--you could either walk or drive. (Even in this, the most heavily touristed part of Rwanda, a muzungu walking down the road or around the market is a bit of a spectacle, as we found out.)

  • Stayed September 2009, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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4 reviews 4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
4 of 5 stars Reviewed September 3, 2009

This hotel was very comfortable, but a bit on the pricey side. I guess you have to pay extra for amenities given the remoteness of this area. There was internet, clean rooms, great food, friendly staff, close to the group of gorillas that I visited, and the hot water bottle in the bed to keep warm was a very nice touch. They packed breakfast and lunch for me for my treks and even cleaned my boots after my muddy hike!

  • Stayed July 2009, traveled solo
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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Senior Contributor
45 reviews 45 reviews
39 hotel reviews
Reviews in 27 cities Reviews in 27 cities
89 helpful votes 89 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 23, 2009

I had the great pleasure of staying at the Gorillas Nest for a week in February.

The hotel staff is lovely. The are especially warm if you are warm to them. I quickly was on first name basis with everyone I had met who worked there and they were so generous that when it was my birthday they even sang for me and made me a cake!

The hotel is set up with little stone cottages in a circle around a central grassy area, and with the main building and eating area up front.

Inside your small cottage (outdoor entrances) you will find a little water heater for warm showers, and a cozy clean room. It does get cold in the mountains and you will snuggle tight under the covers at night. Outside of your door you will likely wake up to crested cranes feeding in the grass and the fresh smell of dew.

The hotel can arrange for you to do the standard tourist things, such as gorilla viewing and hiking. For gorilla viewing it is best (even necessary) to purchase the permit before leaving Kigali. However if you would like to go on a hike or other expedition you can buy a permit once you are in Ruhengeri on even one days notice, and be escorted on your adventure.

With regards to viewing gorillas, it is necessary to get a car to drive you around and the hotel can help with this. However they can not negotiate you a better rate than the $50usd per day that seems the standard. So be aware of that. But don't be afraid as a solo traveller to just call ahead to gorillas nest and take your gorilla permit and they will help you organize upon arrival.

The food at the lodge is hearty and plentiful and everyone eats together in the dining room every night.

There is also a well-stocked bar for drinks and snacks.

The hotel will pack you a lunch if you are going out on adventures.

In the evening they did some cultural demonstrations for us including a one hour dancing extravaganza which was fun to participate in.

Generally people attending this hotel may only be staying for one night but if you do stay for longer, you will enjoy it. In the evening you may just be too tired to think of doing anything at all which is ok.

Once you are at the hotel don't be nervous (in my opinion) to take a walk down to Kinigi Village. Once you are there there is a market where you can buy some fresh fruit or just get a feel for the place. There is also a small genocide memorial and a mass-grave en-route.

I recommend taking the necessary cash as, at the time of my travels, visa was not an option and getting a visa advance even in Ruhengeri town was impossible. I was able (with a half days effort) to get a MasterCard advance. But all around, it is best just to take the necessary cash.

The location of this hotel is of course the most important thing. From the hotel you can see the towering volcanoes aligning the Congolese/Rwandan/Ugandan border. At some times of the year (such as when I was there) the rains will fall every afternoon with big lush drops. The surroundings are green and overflowing with jungly beauty. But it is not hot and the vegetation is more like North America with lots of clematis - less like hot tropical africa. Being in Kinigi Village or Ruhengeri is a sight to behold and you will get a peek at what central africa (which is huge) is like.

All around I highly recommend this establishment.

  • Stayed February 2007
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Luanda, Angola
Top Contributor
660 reviews 660 reviews
346 hotel reviews
Reviews in 320 cities Reviews in 320 cities
1,011 helpful votes 1,011 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed January 8, 2009

The setting of this ecologically pleasing hotel is wonderful: stone hewn chalets with plants growing over them radiating from a central courtyard in a eucalyptus forest. Gorilla’s Nest is only a few km (20 minute drive on a bad road) from the entrance to the Parc des Volcans where you get your gorilla permit, meet your guide and get your briefing before trekking gorillas, walking to the golden monkeys or Dian Fossey’s grave at 7AM (Breakfast is at 6AM for a 6:30 departure).

The staff are wonderfully helpful and the food menu is limited but, as noted by another reviewer, nutritious and tasty (and yes, the vegetarian pizza is wonderful). Breakfast is buffet style and had the most variety of fruit, cereal, continental, eggs throughout my 10 day stay in Rwanda.

The rooms are average style and have a strange layout, especially if you are in one of the rooms over the bridge where you have to climb into your room through a window. If you are in one of the front chalets, you get a door and a desk but the rooms are otherwise similar. Rooms are old style and a bit basic but have everything you need. The beds have comfy mattresses and there is hot water (if you don’t shower when everyone else does in the early evening--it’s only lukewarm then) and electricity. No TV, Internet or other modcons, however. Room temperature in the evenings end December was 18C.

A single with breakfast was $224 a night, but you pay for the location and locale. The alternatives are cheaper but very basic guesthouses which are also near to the Park entrance or a few places in town (about 30 minutes from the Park entrance). Or if you want to splurge, you can spend $750 a night per person and be right where the trekking for the golden monkeys starts at Sabinyo Lodge about 20 minutes drive from the Park Entrance (you still need to check in at the Park Entrance at 7 AM, however), or $650 a night for two at Virunga Lodge. Virunga boasts a stunning setting overlooking crater lakes which you should try to visit even if you don’t stay at Virunga Lodge. Another alternative is to drive 2 hours to Lake Kivu before or after your trek and stay at the Kivu Serena which is an upmarket (4 star) Western style hotel. (See my review of that hotel).

Stayed December 2008
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Additional Information about Gorilla's Nest Hotel

Address: P.O.box 79, Ruhengeri, Rwanda
Location: Rwanda > Northern Province > Ruhengeri
Free Parking Restaurant
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 2 Hotels in Ruhengeri
Number of rooms: 174
Also Known As:
Gorillas Nest Ruhengeri
Hotel Gorillas Nest
Gorilla's Nest Hotel Rwanda/Ruhengeri

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