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“Fantastic base for gorilla trekking” 5 of 5 bubbles
Review of Virunga Lodge

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Virunga Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
Gibraltar
Level Contributor
22 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
“Fantastic base for gorilla trekking”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 28 October 2011

There is nothing to fault about this lodge. The banda (individual cabins) are beautiful, big, clean, private, quiet and nicely designed. The service is impeccable, everyone is polite and helpful. The views of the lakes, valley, and volcanoes is spectacular. Sipping a glass of chilled white wine on the terrace admiring the view is a a very pleasant way to spend an afternoon after gorilla trekking. The lodge is an expensive stay but it's so good it still seems value for money. The only possible downside compared to other lodges in the area is that it is a 45 minute drive from the lodge to the gorilla trekking ranger station where you start your day of trekking, meaning a 5am wake-up call and 6am departure from the lodge. I would guess that the other lodges and hotels are closer. For us the views and venue were well worth it.

  • Stayed October 2011, travelled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 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?
1 Thank agentofkao s
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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245 reviews from our community

Traveller rating
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5
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
Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (65)
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Portuguese first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Hong Kong, China
Level Contributor
380 reviews
373 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 687 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 18 October 2011

This place was home for four days, it was about a 2-3 hr from Kigali, a very pleasant drive and a great way to see the country with a thousand hills.    There were four in our group with three rooms, my room was no. 1., close to the main lodge and with a beautiful view of the lake beneath, other rooms had views of either the lake or the volcanoes with their stunning cloud formations.  The room was really a spacioua cottage, with a nice terrace area with lounge chairs,  a four poster bed with mosquitoes netting ( but I did not get one single bite during the 5 days in this country) tons of candles, electricity and hot water from solar panels, comfy sitting sofa and writing desk, and a cheerful bathroom and toilet that looked out at the scenery in the garden.  
It was rainy season so we had momentary bursts of sunshine and warmth but also hours of cold wet weather where we congregated along with fellow travellers around the fireplace in the main lodge to swapped tales and photos.  All meals were served in the main lodge as well, good food in general and unlimited alcohol.
This place was not luxurious the way Indian safaris are ( ie not the Oberoi Jaipur "tents" with marble bathrooms, tubs and quilted tents) but it was comfortable and mostly built from local material (ie volcanic rocks).  
Views were amazing all over the property, plenty of opportunity to admire the volcanoes, the abundant birdlife, or take one of the walks around the property.  
Service was excellent and much better vs what we experienced ie in the best hotels in Kigali (whether Serena or hotel mille) ie tea delivered to the room 5 am, the staff would greet us post hike in the rain with umbrellas, take our muddy boots, and return them end of the day cleaned and looking almost brand new.  Dinner was always  lovingly prepared with choice of three entrees, the beds were warmed up nightly with hot water bottles.  
The highlight of any outing here of course is to see the mountain gorillas, so much more interesting   an encounter vs a typical African sit in your jeep & look for the big 5 experience, & this lodge was a perfect place for this.  

Only word of advice: don't fly Kenya air  (codeshare Delta & Klm,) I fly constantly and rank Kenya air as THE worst  ( Air India a close 2nd).  My trip home included two horrific KA segments which turned the normally 20 hr return trip into a  60 hr trip ordeal.  My friends had six segments on KA and everything that could go wrong ( ie lost luggages, tons of mechanical failures, food poisoning, arbitrarily changed flights without notification, missed connection due to KA "technical issues", being dropped off at KA arranged airport hotels only to realize hotel was full, etc. It was  ridiculous ... Don't fly KA unless time is not important (ie no job or loved ones to return to) & you enjoy sleeping in airports.   

  • Stayed October 2011, travelled with friends
    • 4 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 Anilegna
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
113 reviews
42 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 95 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 16 October 2011

Seeing the gorillas is undoubtedly one of the best things I have ever experienced and is definitely worth all of the expense.
As for Virunga Lodge itself overall we were very happy with it. However my summary would be there is still a bit of room for improvement which would not matter except that at the price they're charging you'd expect perfection!
Location is amazing. The views are stunning and it is one of the most beautiful and peaceful places I have ever been. In comparison to it's main competitor sabyinyo lodge, the views are undoubtedly much better and the drive to get there is very picturesque. However this does mean it is further from the national park and the gorillas, so allow for having to get up an hour earlier if you stay here. It's an hours drive to the park.
Rooms - the rooms were gorgeous. I think there are only 8. It was an individual villa, very private and secluded. Really big and very nicely designed. The bed was large and comfy, it was spotlessly clean with no bugs and the shower was decent with constant hot water and a flush toilet. The veranda and view from the rooms are incredible.
Staff were friendly polite and helpful and there are great little touches such as when you return from trekking they take and wash all your muddy clothes and even clean up your hiking boots and return them to you clean to repack. Great!
The bar area is nice and cosy with a fire and all drinks are included in the price including reasonable south African wine.
The only 2 things that let it down were the food and the massage! They offer a free 30 min massage which sounds like a lovely idea post trek. However the woman doing it cannot possibly be qualified and both of us thought it the worst massage we've had. Painful and pointless. If you're not qualified don't give massages!
Food- the food was not bad but just not the standard you would expect for the price. Dinners are served communally and you get a choice of 2 starters and 2 mains per meal. Our first dinner the starter and main were both pretty nice, dessert was very poor both nights but this doesn't matter too much. Unfortunately our second nights dinner wasn't great either. Breakfast was fine although cold one day. As I said not bad just should be better for the price and nowhere near as good as the quality in our Mara safari lodge in Kenya.
However it was my birthday our first day there and although my partner only told them an hour before dinner they managed to bake me a proper birthday cake and the whole staff sang happy birthday!
So overall we had a fantastic time! I really loved it and would recommend it but it is extortionately expensive and not yet quite of the standard to justify the price.

  • Stayed October 2011
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
4 Thank Gooldie
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Fourways, South Africa
Level Contributor
27 reviews
18 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 16 October 2011

The hotel is very nice & with spectacular views but somewhat over priced. the rooms are very comfortable, the presentation of the food was good but not outstanding quality, and the wine list was severly lacking. For this price I expect more. it is also situated approx 60 minutes from the Parks HQ where the Gorilla Trekking starts from, so i would recommend staying there for relaxation after you have done all your trekking.

  • Stayed September 2011, travelled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank JAG-JHB
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
spokane, washington
Level Contributor
93 reviews
44 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 45 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 15 October 2011

Wonderful views, outstanding food, unbelievable adventure only exceeded by the fantastic service provided by a friendly and competent staff....unequalled.

Room Tip: Any room is fantastic
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  • Stayed September 2011, travelled with friends
    • 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?
Thank puttvin
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
19 reviews
18 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 14 October 2011

This lodge was my favorite on safari. The stunning views and incredible service made it a wonderful kickoff off in Rwanda. The bungalows have all been updated with running water for showers and toilets. It is an Eco-lodge, so there are not plugs in the room to charge things, which can be done at the main lodge, and the lights are limited to evenings and early mornings. It still brings a smile to my face when I remember the "good morning" that I would hear as the staff would come to deliver tea or coffee to wake me in the morning. The food was outstanding and varied. And that staff couldn't be better. They were attentive, discreet, and friendly. Just perfect.

  • Stayed April 2011
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank Littlegorilla
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
nsw
Level Contributor
52 reviews
20 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 4 October 2011

Lovely Lovely 2 night stay, should have stayed 3
Great service, warm and friendly. Staff clean your boots daily when you return from hikes.
Nice atmosphere at meals with other guests. Great lunch packs for your Gorilla treks which was priceless and highly reccomended and unforgetable.
DONT waste money on the golden monkeys though, as only a glimpse at a time, not worth the effort, would rather have done 2 days of Gorillas or just chill out at Virunga.

  • Stayed September 2011, travelled 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?
Thank Jaybeen
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:
Region: Rwanda > Northern Province > Muhanze District > Ruhengeri
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 20 Speciality 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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