Gorillas in our Midst at Bisate Lodge
Bisate Lodge (opening June 2017) will be located in the natural amphitheatre of an eroded volcanic cone – the word bisate means ‘pieces’ in Kinyarwanda, describing how the cone was once whole but worn away by natural erosion. The area has dramatic views of the peaks of the volcanoes Bisoke and Karisimbi rearing up through the Afro-alpine forests of nearby Volcanoes National Park. Twelve guests will stay in six sumptuous en-suite rooms that maximise comfort, warmth and views while retaining environmental principles and reflecting the culture of surrounding rural Rwanda.
Bisate is within easy driving distance of Park Headquarters, from where gorilla treks depart daily. Its vision of reforestation and rehabilitation means that each guest is invited to participate in our biodiversity conservation efforts, as well as engage and meet the local community – in addition to learning about and making a far-reaching positive impact on an iconic endangered species: the mountain gorilla.
Aside from tracking one of the ten habituated gorilla groups, other attractions include Iby’wacu cultural village, the Twin Lakes of Ruhondo and Burera, the lava tunnels of the Musanze Caves, Dian Fossey’s grave, and even seeing the endemic golden monkey. Walks on the extensive property offer birding and participation in the reforestation programme.
- Best location for a holistic gorilla experience in Rwanda
- Spectacular views of the brooding Bisoke, Karisimbi and Mikeno Volcanoes
- High standards of accommodation and service create the most exclusive and one of the only sustainable luxury offerings in the area
Ten habituated groups can be tracked and observed in the Volcanoes National Park. While tracking expeditions do not necessarily cover enormous distances, they can range in length from 1-8 km (0.5-5 miles) over very steep country at high altitudes. The undergrowth can be thick, the ground beneath muddy, and, including the time spent with a gorilla group, excursions can last between 2 and 8 hours.
Gorilla viewing protocol is based on the guidelines issued by the IUCN for great ape viewing. Such protocols are designed specifically to limit stress and behavioural impact and also potential disease transmission from humans to gorillas. They are critical for gorilla conservation.
Maximum viewing duration of any group is 1 hour per day.Maximum number of guests per gorilla tracking excursion is 8.No food or drinks can be consumed close to the gorillas.Smoking is not allowed.Do not litter.Spitting in the Park is strictly prohibited.While gorilla sightings and encounters are very reliable, viewing is dependent on variables such as weather and tracking conditions.When with the gorillas, please keep your voice low. Do not make rapid movements that may alarm them.Should you need to cough or sneeze, cover your mouth and turn away from the gorillas.If a gorilla should charge or vocalise at you, do not be alarmed, stand still, look away from the gorilla and follow your guide’s instructions.Minimum age for gorilla viewing is 15 years – this is for reasons of safety but also for possible disease transmission, with children under this age more prone to infection.
- Maximum viewing duration of any group is 1 hour per day.
- Maximum number of guests per gorilla tracking excursion is 8.
- No food or drinks can be consumed close to the gorillas.
- Smoking is not allowed.
- Do not litter.
- Spitting in the Park is strictly prohibited.
- While gorilla sightings and encounters are very reliable, viewing is dependent on variables such as weather and tracking conditions.
- When with the gorillas, please keep your voice low. Do not make rapid movements that may alarm them.
- Should you need to cough or sneeze, cover your mouth and turn away from the gorillas.
- If a gorilla should charge or vocalise at you, do not be alarmed, stand still, look away from the gorilla and follow your guide’s instructions.
- Minimum age for gorilla viewing is 15 years – this is for reasons of safety but also for possible disease transmission, with children under this age more prone to infection.
- Again, to minimise possible transmission of human diseases, visitors are asked to maintain a distance of 7 metres (about 22 feet) from the gorillas. Guests that display cold, flu or other respiratory tract symptoms will not be allowed to track gorillas.
Whilst the main focus at Bisate Lodge is gorilla trekking, Wilderness offers other activities…
Gorilla trekking takes place from Volcanoes National Park headquarters where guests are allocated one of the ten habituated gorilla groups to visit for an hour. After a briefing by Park rangers, the time of the trek varies depending which gorilla group is being visited – from 45 minutes to a few hours. Trekking is at a high altitude, but is well worth it; the time spent with gorillas has been described as “life changing!”
Golden Monkey Trek
The golden monkey trek begins at Volcanoes National Park headquarters. This beautifully-coloured primate is endemic to the area and lives in groups of up to 30 individuals in the bamboo forest, its preferred source of food.
Guided Hikes in Volcanoes National Park
At 3 711 metres Mount Bisoke volcano is located on the border of the DRC and Rwanda. The guided hike to the summit is strenuous and requires a full day to complete. However, once at the top it is extremely beautiful and really worth the effort as you are rewarded with sweeping views of the rainforest and the amazing crater lake.
Dian Fossey’s grave and Research Centre
Dian Fossey established the Karisoke Research Centre in 1967 in the saddle of Bisoke and Karisimbi volcanoes at an elevation of some 3 000 metres. The trail leading to her remote rainforest camp and grave – which is set alongside the graves of her beloved gorillas – and the remains of the research centre is a spectacular, if challenging hike up steep slopes where orchids, birdlife and even occasional black-fronted duiker and bushbuck can be seen.
Guided Community Walk
Guests can walk to the vegetable garden where members of the local cooperative cultivate and sell vegetables to the lodge. Your guide will continue with you along the path to the Bisate community where you will meet Beatrice who will tell you a bit about her way of life and introduce you to her family.
Nursery visit and tree planting
Spend an afternoon with the team at Bisate’s reforestation nursery where you can meet Jean-Moise, the lodge’s agronomist. He and his assistants are on hand to help you plant a sapling to contribute to Bisate’s reforestation efforts in the area.
Rwandan coffee and tea tastings; wine tasting
Rwanda is well known for its coffee and tea; at Bisate we offer you the chance to learn a little more about both in a tasting session with our resident barista. Or if you are more interested in spending time in the wine cellar, you are welcome to enjoy a wine tasting as well.
Nature and Birding Walks
Explore Bisate’s surrounds on a guided nature and bird walk in the forest to learn more about the bird- and wildlife of the area. You may also enjoy a guided walk to the local pyrethrum fields and end the day at sunset with spectacular views of Karisimbi, Bisoke and Mikeno volcanoes from the viewing deck at Bisate Lodge. There is a self-guided trail on the property for those who wish to explore on their own.