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“excellent eco lodge but it is an eco lodge” 4 of 5 bubbles
Review of Virunga Lodge

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Virunga Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
Eastbourne, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
119 reviews
65 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 65 helpful votes
“excellent eco lodge but it is an eco lodge”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed November 22, 2012

The support team here are fantastic with a capital F - a reallly nice set up with amazing views overlooking 6 volcanoes, however the electriciity was provided courtesy of solar panels.
This meant that if we had a shower in the afternoon, we had no hot water in the morning which was very disappointing
This was the only fault - the team were so friendly and welcoming, the food was wholesome and tasty, and there were comfortable beds and lodges, which were slightly musty in the rainy season

We would not hesitate to return here - the service more than made up for the cold water in the morning

  • Stayed November 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank MikeOgilvie
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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249 reviews from our community

Traveler 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
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (67)
Date | Rating
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English first
St. John, Virgin Islands
Level Contributor
120 reviews
77 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 101 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed November 12, 2012

This was my favorite of the Volcanoes Lodges we stayed in on a 8 day trip between Uganda and Rwanda. We are truly impressed by Rwanda and the beauty & cleanliness & friendly attitudes. This lodge is in a gorgeous spot! 360 degree views of the volcanoes, lakes, highlands, fields. Loved the firepit in the very cozy lounge area, great place to meet fellow travelers & share adventures. Had a very romantic dinner one evening with lots of candlelight & fine wines...4 couples we just met...from Argentina, Belgium, New Zealand, & England & us, Americans. Truly enjoy meeting people from all over the world in these remote places! Try the local banana vodka.
Bandas are nice & roomy with large bathrooms.
But real treat, of course, is the gorilla trekking!!! Very well done and the center is impressive. You can ask for as easy or difficult a day that works for you. We lucked out...no rain! I also did the Golden Monkeys one morning, which was just right...4 hours & then back for a lunch with wine & massage in the afternoon. My husband did the trek up to Dian Fossey grave & did not get back until 5:30pm. It rained, hailed, foggy...while I was in sunshine, same day.
Would recommend doing the "Volcanoes" lodges...service was excellent thoughout & we had our own driver/guide, Charles, who met us at the airstrip in Uganda & drove us all over & across the border into Rwanda. Felt very "taken care of" by everyone. Thank you!

Room Tip: All rooms have lovely views and patios or porches. Main lodge has great areas for relaxing.
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  • Stayed October 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
3 Thank sstj
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Nairobi, Kenya
Level Contributor
10 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed November 12, 2012

I have visited Virunga lodge a number of times to see the sunset and have a drink from its fantastic location and have always been impressed with the friendliness of the management and staff towards people who were not paying guests, especially as they only have 8 rooms. I finally had the chance to spend the night there and again I was very impressed with my stay.

The location is stunning, with great views of both the twin lakes as well as the full range of volcanoes. The staff are both very professional and very friendly but at the same time give you your space to enjoy the lodge as you please.

There are a range of areas to sit, have a drink and enjoy the atmosphere and the central sitting area with the fireplace is also a nice place to be when it gets cold.

Meals are well prepared, but dinner is in a communal setting, so keep that in mind in case you prefer your privacy.

The rooms are spacious and the bathrooms even more so. Each has a great view - with 4 facing the lake and 4 facing the volcanoes. Mine had a bit of a musty smell, so maybe they are getting a bit old now, though the lodge has only been open 8 years.

I took a fantastic walk down to the lake and through the villages for 3 hours which gave a great view to life in rural Rwanda that you can't quite see just by driving through it.

One consideration when staying there is that you do have to leave much earlier than many of the other lodges to get to the gorilla meeting point, given that it is about a 45 minute drive away rather than 5 to 15 minutes from some of the other places. Not a big deal, unless that extra 1/2 hour of sleep is important to you.

The price here is very high, so I can't comment on whether it is worth the price, but its definitely a memorable experience to stay there.

Room Tip: Half the rooms face the volcanoes and half face the lakes. All are quite private
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  • Stayed November 2012, traveled solo
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank gshah18
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Toronto, Canada
Level Contributor
7 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed October 11, 2012

After a long drive from Kigali we arrived at the lodge at 7:00 pm, made a quick stop in our room and joined the other guests for a family style dinner. A wonderful way to meet new people and learn about their days and their experiences. Out room/cabin/banda was beautiful, very large main room with bed, sitting area, lovely bathroom and all rooms with incredible views. Each banda has a private patio with incredible views of the other mountains, volcanos and lakes. Unfortunately for us the weather didn't cooperate (afternoon rain storms each day) so we didn't get the pleasure of sitting outside. The main lounge area is very comfortable and welcoming as most guests meet there pre-dinner for some drinks, to enjoy the fire and hear about everyone's day.

It is quite a drive up the mountain to get to the lodge and as other guests mentioned a 45 minute drive to the Gorilla Trek meeting location, however the location and view is well worth it.

Service is great, rooms fantastic, food quite good and all in all a wonderful experience.

The gorilla trekking, once you get to it, is lots of fun and there is an attempt to match capability with difficulty of hike however as the gorillas move each night there is no guarantee on how far they will be. Hiking shoes/boots/something waterproof or resistant is recommended, it can be quite muddy. We had gators which weren't necessary for the mud but did help with the stinging nettles.

  • Stayed September 2012, traveled 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 HMacT
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Bribie Island Qld
Level Contributor
8 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 26 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed October 1, 2012

Firstly, let me get the only negative out of the way. After booking this place directly with Volcanoes about 9 months in advance, there was only one hitch when two months before, Volcanoes contacted us to say that they had overbooked, and us being the last ones to book, were given the option to stay in the very basic "Guide cottage" for one night (with a suitable discount). We begrudgingly accepted this offer, and must say were rather annoyed once there after talking to other guests who booked well after us, but still got their rooms, while we got bumped. It appears that they essentially lied to us in order to look after their American travel agent clients at the expense of clients like ourselves who booked directly with them and are not from their primary market territory of USA. So something to bear in mind. Perhaps book through a travel agent that uses them regularly to ensure no issues. Anyway as mentioned the guide cottage sufficed, but bear in mind it is a short walk outside the property gates, which meant performing limbo in the dark to get under the locked boomgate in a heavy rainstorm, dodging a very large bull, and trudging through mud to get to the cottage. The bathroom and toilet (hole in ground eco-style) are both outside of the guide cottage and so meant getting wet again to use the facilities during the night. Anyway, the missus was not impressed with this first night, but this did change once we were transferred to the regular cottages. As mentioned in other reviews,they all have incredible views of either the volcanoes or lake and are very spacious. We had a nice hot shower (solar) each night, despite it being overcast on many of the four days. We found the food and staff all to be great. The bar area with the central wood fire was a fantastic area to relax after the gorilla treks and have a drink and chat with others staying at the lodge. All drinks and food were included and I was surprised at some of the top shelf liquors available at the lodge. Overall, this place is absolutely fantastic and I would have given it 5 stars if it were not for the overbooking incident and subsequent lack of transparency from Volcanoes reservations staff. As a side note, for the first time ever, we did leave our 5yr old girl at home and were very anxious about the ability to contact her each night. The mobile/cell phone coverage from the lodge, using an MTN sim card, was very good. More than adequate for phone calls but surprisingly also adequate enough for very slow internet access (eg I was able to upload some photos to facebook). If you have any doubts about this lodge or travelling to Rwanda - don't ! The whole trip was absolutely fantastic - the gorilla treks unbelievable and Rwanda itself incredibly scenic.

Room Tip: Any of the rooms have mind-blowing views !
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  • Stayed September 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
5 Thank Bribie_boy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
29 reviews
16 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 21 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed September 11, 2012

Virunga Lodge sits high on a mountain, the lodge has breathtaking views of volcanoes and their lakes from almost all sides. However you need to be lucky to have sunshine to enjoy its magical beauty. Me and my wife visited Rwanda in July, and stayed for 2 nights at Virunga lodge - objective was of course Gorilla trekking. The lodge has nice cottages called "banda" and extremely spacious, hot water was round the clock and the amenities adequate. People in Rwanda are in general kind and friendly and the staff at Virunga lodge was no exception. They took care of every need that we as tourists had or craved for. Interestingly the menu for dinner had choices for appetizers, main course as well as for desserts, something not so common in similar lodges across East Africa. Let's talk about gorilla trekking - it is definitely one of the most thrilling and memorable experience of my lifetime. On the day of our trek, it is customary to get up early, have an early breakfast at lodge and leave by 6 am with packed food. Drive to the park entrance takes almost 45 minutes, where we were treated to a Rwandan cultural dance program, as we waited for our tour (allocation and gorilla guides) allocation. We got to visit Urugamba group, a trekking of almost 1 hr 45 mins. Groups get allocated based on your interest to walk for how long, as well as your physical ability. The Gorillas were amazing...unlike anything you will ever witness. Truly a once in a lifetime experience that no words can explain. Still can't believe us standing in front of a family of 8 gorillas, led by a huge Silverback. In some cases, the young ones in a playful mood were almost next to your feet less than a metre away. It's amazing how an hour (that's exactly the amount of time you are allowed to spend with the gorillas) passes by. Overall, the gorilla trekking has been a fantastic, in fact quite incredible experience and Virunga lodge provides the perfect supplement to relax and recreate alongside the trek. I would like to personally thank all the staff at Virunga lodge for making our stay memorable and Primate Safaris at Rwanda for organizing our trip meticulously.

  • Stayed July 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
3 Thank Anindya M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Saugatuck, Michigan
Level Contributor
234 reviews
29 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 121 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed August 30, 2012

The Virunga Lodge has excellent, spotless bandas with all the creature comforts, plus spectacular views of the volcanoes and lakes. The staff and service are excellent; very attentive but not intrusive. Wake up call is 5am for the gorilla treks; breakfast ordered the night before. There's only room for 16 or so, so the dinners at a community table are a great way to close out the day. Laundry is picked up each morning, and your boots are cleaned and returned. My wife was savvy enough to reserve banda 1, which is closest to the lodge with best views of the lake. We enjoyed goat cheese pizza dinner (excellent!) on our terrace one night; very enjoyable. This is the only place I have ever been in the world where you can hear the sounds of the village below you, with the occasional child shooting or dog barking, but not ONE mechanical sound, no cars or trucks or hammers or whatever. Truly a unique and rewarding experience.

Room Tip: Reserve Banda 1, treat yourself to one dinner on your terrace, sneak a peanut butter, nutella and ba...
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  • Stayed August 2012, traveled 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 Uraway
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
Phone Number:
Location: Rwanda > Northern Province > Musanze District > Ruhengeri
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 16 Specialty 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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