Tag Archive: Rwanda

Destinations - Robin TBCSituated between Mgahinga and Bwindi National parks and Kisoro, on the shores of Lake Mutanda you will find a place full of inspiration and enjoyment called Chameleon Hill.

Enjoy spectacular views across the lake with its islands and surrounding Virungu Vulcanoes as a backdrop.

The rustic, but sensitively handled, interior speaks of light. Further important aspects in the design of the lodge are colors and mosaics.

The lodge features 10 chalets in total – 5 twin bed rooms (which can be converted into a queen room) & 5 permanent queen bedrooms. All have unobstructed views across the lake and are individually furnished with different colors and other essential features (e.g. mosquito nets). The cozy yet modern restaurant seats a maximum of 20 guests.

The closest starting point for the Gorilla Trekking is in Rubuguri, reachable in 45minutes to 1 hour  drive (depending on road condition/ weather).

New Protea Hotel for Rwanda

Hot on the heels of our Rwanda feature last month, The Protea Hospitality Group has signed a deal that will see Africa’s largest hotel group moving into its 10th African country, the beautiful equatorial Republic of Rwanda, famous for its Mountain Gorillas.

A 25-room hotel in the upmarket suburb of Nyarutarama in Rwanda’s capital city, Kigali will become Protea Hotel Kigali when it opens in the last quarter of this year and represents a great step forward in the Protea Hospitality Group’s growth in East Africa, says company CEO Arthur Gillis.

Protea Hotel Kigali will offer standard rooms, as well as eight two-bedroom units specifically for the long-stay market. The hotel will also feature a 60-seater restaurant, a bar, gym and swimming pool, plus two executive boardrooms for meetings and conferences on site.

Rwanda is a developing nation of approximately 11 million people. African Economic Outlook sets the country an expected GDP growth of nearly 7% for 2013.



Rwanda – Land of 1000 Hills

Our Director of Sales & Marketing, Yolanda Woeke-Jacobs, recently undertook a trip- of-a-life time to Rwanda and came back totally inspired by the Land of a 1000 Hills. Rwanda is a small landlocked country, bordered by Uganda to the North, Tanzania to the East, Burundi to the South and the Democratic Republic of Congo to the West.

Even though it’s one of Africa’s smallest countries, it has approximately 10 million inhabitants, making it one of the most densely populated.

The highlight was without a doubt a visit to the Mountain Gorillas, of which there are very few left due to poaching and the impact on the environment by humans.  They are without doubt on the brink of extinction. There are only 13 troops left in the Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, and a limited amount of permits are issued daily for guests to do this life changing experience.  In Yolanda’s own words, “I have to be honest I have experienced lots of things, places and cultures. This however rates as my best and most memorable EVER! I was left in awe of these amazingly human-like creatures. This is a MUST see and do and should be on everyone’s bucket list. It really can very easily be combined with a visit to Kenya or Tanzania”.

Volcanoes National Park and the Gorillas

Musanze is the nearest town for departure for the Gorilla Trekking, approximately a 25 minute drive. This is approximately a three hour drive from the capital of Rwanda; Kigali.

The Gorilla trekking day starts with a 7am registration, followed by a ranger briefing on the lawns.

Of the 13 groups of Gorillas in the area, 7 – 10 of the groups are visited by tourists during trekking. Three are still not habituated and the other three are being used for research purposes and are seldom exposed to tourists. Gorilla families are very territorial and will generally be found in a similar region. With this knowledge, the park rangers have categorised the various gorilla treks into easy, medium and hard treks.

Easy generally means a 20minute walk up to the edge of the park through farm land areas and a further 15- 30 minute walk inside the actual forest.

Medium generally means a 20 minute walk up to the edge of the park through the farm and then a 45 – 75 minute walk uphill, inside the actual forest.

Hard – means a 20 minute walk up to the edge of the park through the farms and then a serious climb up to the top reach of the mountains.  These are generally not offered, except in the peak season, and guests would need to be really fit to reach these Gorillas.

Once you reach your family of Gorilla’s a few rules are in place; to minimise the possibility of transmitting human diseases, visitors are asked to maintain a distance of 7m from the gorillas. Guests need to be fit and healthy when visiting the gorillas.

Viewing time is limited to one hour and a maximum of 8 visitors are allowed per group. Photography is allowed, although no flash photography of the gorillas is permitted.

We do not recommend a day trip from Kigali as it is an early start (you need to leave your nearby accommodation at least by 6am to reach the starting point) and you finish the trek around 1pm. It is worth spending at least 2 nights in this region – apart from the Gorillas, there is also the opportunity to trek Golden Monkeys and a visit to Dian Fosseys grave.  The area really offers very beautiful scenery.

There is a lot of accommodation in the area to choose from.

Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge (5 double cottages, 2 suites and a family cottage) – highly recommended

Gorilla Mountain View Lodge (36 rooms) – * 3 star but very close to National Park entrance

Virunga Lodge (8 chalets with spectacular views) – highly recommended, although furthest from the National Park entrance

Gorillas Nest Lodge – Part of the Shamwari Group and positioned on the foothills of the Virunga Volcano range. Currently under refurbishment due to a fire.

Weather: Rwanda has a temperate climate with two rainy seasons from February to May and October to December.  April is the wettest month.  It has two dry seasons: the short dry season – January and the long dry season from June – August.

Best time to travel: September / October / November.  Having said this, any time of the year is fine to go trekking.  The gorillas are always there.

Getting there: South African Airways flies from Johannesburg to Kigali, Rwanda. It is a three and a half hour flight with stop in Burundi of about 30 minutes.

Interesting Fact: Plastic bags are banned in Rwanda – making it a very clean country.  Guests should be advised to leave all plastic bags behind else they will be confiscated on entry.

Another amazing law is that every last Saturday of the month, everyone cleans the city.  Children, men, women the elderly – each and every citizen does their bit of community work.  Around 14h00 the city starts operating again, but until then you are not allowed to drive anywhere, unless you have a good reason, such as transporting tourists or an ambulance, etc….

Getting around: Generally guests would drive between destinations in 5-seater 4×4 vehicles. Charter flights are available in some area, although this could be very expensive.

Our thoughts:

Perhaps the biggest surprise for Yolanda was the friendliness and genuine pleasure it is for the Rwanda’s to have visitors in their country.  With the genocide memories still very real, only 19 years ago, it is amazing to see how they have built their future into a peaceful and developing country with lots of smiles.  The Genocide Museum is a must visit – very, very emotional – but it really brings home the atrocities that happened to this nation, and that most Rwanda’s experienced, and how they have risen above this.

This most definitely is a niche destination, but it is an once-in-a-lifetime experience, it is off the beaten track and it most certainly is wild!

If these attributes “tick the boxes” for your next incentive or personal travel plan, then Rwanda may just be the destination you are looking for.

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