Planning An African Adventure? We’ve Hand-Picked Luxurious Properties In The Land of Thousand Hills…
With the emergence of more opulent hotel properties across the African continent, the tourism industry is shaping the culture of vacationing in Africa. Though each hotel property reflects the culture and history of the region, it is always the small things like personalised hospitality or captivating panoramic views that leave a lasting impression on us.
Similarly, with Rwandan tourism on the upswing, the Land of Thousand Hills makes it an eccentric holiday destination in its own right. Reflecting copious scenery, lush wildlife, picturesque home to one-of-a-kind birdlife and an affluent landscape, Rwanda has something for everyone – whether it’s an adventurous expedition or a soothing sojourn at one of the sumptuous properties.
This little country is altering the face of eco-tourism in a dramatic way, with plastic bag restrictions, extensive wildlife protection, and the emergence of sustainable housing. Travellers should keep this in mind and make sustainability a top priority during their stay.
Filtering the location, scale of hospitality, accessibility, interiors of the property and among other prime factors, here we will give you an insight into the top 10 Rwanda’s most exquisite estates to reside during your trip.
1. Bisate Lodge
Nestled amidst the rich fauna of the Volcanoes National Park (about three hours from Kigali), Bisate Lodge, an ecotourism resort, is distinguished by its wonderfully woven thatches, which are crafted in spherical chambers with cosy-rustic interiors. The archaic cocoon by Wilderness Safaris covers 42 hectares of the gorgeous countryside with its six pod-shaped villas, setting a floating example of communicating the authentic Rwandan culture. Each villa has a sweeping private terrace with views of the Karisimbi, Bisoke and Mikeno volcanoes, as well as contemporary décor along with a bedroom, en-suite bathroom, a central volcanic fireplace and embedding locally made textile crafts.
Best for: Is best suited for hikers since it is said to be one of the ideal baselines for tourists who may want to trek and interact with the endangered silverback gorillas.
The Look: Nicholas Plewman Architects, a well-known South African design firm, was inspired by Nyanza’s King’s Palace while designing this beautiful estate. The thatched-roof spheres fuse in well with their surroundings, with their basket-like look and floor-to-ceiling windows with views of Mount Bisoke, Mount Karisimbi, and Mount Mikeno. These pod-shaped villas were built within an eroded volcanic cone. Moreover, the property’s aesthetics are enhanced with Rwandan textiles and imigongo-themed furniture that adorn the rooms, leaving behind a lodge steeped in local culture, design, and architecture.
Activities: Gorilla Trekking, Golden Monkey Trekking, guided Walks in the Volcanoes National Park, tree Planting and hiking to Karisoke can be available on-site or off-site.
2. One&Only Gorilla’s Nest
The One&Only Gorilla’s Nest, perched in the foothills of the majestic Virunga Volcano range, offers another front seat to the endangered mountain gorillas as well as breath-taking natural beauty. At this gorgeous resort in Kinigi, northwest of Rwanda, an exquisitely constructed private hideaway harmoniously blends with the background and provides an exclusive selection of 21 jungle-chic havens. The entire site is shaped by nature and encircled by Eucalyptus trees that infuse the air with a scented aroma. The resort may also be reached via a helicopter, enabling you to witness the awe-inspiring terrain.
Best for: Nature lovers who will make the most of every square inch of overlapping space and Mother Nature.
The Look: The property’s décor is traditional but chic, and you will embark on a voyage to witness a genuinely memorable African experience first-hand. The lodge’s sleek design has an African modern atmosphere, reflecting the tones of the surrounding panoramic vistas as well as the local volcanic rock, with black and white Rwandan imigongo pattern decoration.
Activities: To name a few activities, guests can sample a variety of coffee beans from a local female-run cooperative coffee farm, practice yoga on one of the outdoor patios, take photography lessons at the studio, or bike to a nearby hamlet to learn about Rwandan culture and history, basket weaving, and traditional dance and music performances.
3. Magashi Camp
Situated in Akagera National Park, Magashi Camp is a new luxury camp that lets you experience the 6,000 hectares of serene spread that is home to a pride of lions, rhinoceros, a leap of leopards and zeal of zebras. When you arrive by boat, you will notice the camp’s cosy, relaxing atmosphere, consisting of six luxury tents sitting on the shores of Lake Rwanyakazinga. Earthy tones with traces of pink are prevalent throughout the property, as is real Rwandan friendliness. The friendly crew at Magashi enjoys sharing their traditional Kugisha dinner with visitors, which is accompanied by cattle-herding music and stories.
Best for: Visitors seeking for a suitable spot for their safaris will find it here.
The Look: Magashi Camp’s architecture and interiors are meticulously built with natural materials and embellished with appealing patterns with tint hues of pink, paying respect to classic Rwandan décor and culture. All of the tents are elevated above the ground and have mighty views of the lake and park.
Activities: Participate in one of the most thrilling night game drives, while you also can enjoy birding, hiking, boating and the classic game drives during the day.
4. Singita Kataza House
Tucked away on the north-western border of Volcanoes National Park, Singita Kataza House is the only villa in such close proximity to the gorillas’ habitat, adding the trekking experiences within arm’s access. The striking premise falls as an apt location for animal lovers to encounter these unbelievable interactions, as well to explore the rest of Rwanda’s offerings – from the sights and sounds of Kigali’s bustling city to Nyungwe National Park’s suspended canopy walk. Correspondingly, the housing encompasses a master bedroom, a junior master suite, two suites and a two-bedroom staffing residence, leaving you behind with personalized hospitality service.
Best for: Families who are looking for an intimate vacationing spot.
The Look: This sophisticated African mansion is made of individual pavilions arranged around a central cluster consisting of living rooms, and is connected by groomed forest pathways. Additionally, the entire home is done in earthy tones and rattan furniture that flawlessly marries with the natural surroundings – and the light beige colours provide a sense of sophistication and distinctiveness.
Activities: The housing offers both offsite and onsite activities for their guests, including the likes of Gorilla trekking, hike to Dian Fossey’s gravesite, community experiences that cater to Rwandan cultural insights and glimpses of the local lifestyle, whereas onsite you can indulge in fine wine tastings, massage treatments and cooking lessons.
5. Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge
The Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge is the first ever community-owned lodge in Rwanda. Governors’ Camp Collection constructed and operates the facility; however, it is owned by the SACOLA Community Trust (Sabyinyo Community Livelihood Association). The resort is adjacent to the Volcanoes National Park, from where visitors may hike to observe the gorillas on foot. The property is sited at the foothills of the Virungas, a series of 15,000-foot volcanoes that stretches through Rwanda, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, offering spectacular views of the mountain peaks and surrounding plains. The patios are bustling with rich birds singing throughout the day, and the log fires are lit at night for ideal relaxation in a refuge of cold mountain air. Likewise, the main lodge structure and guest cabins have been magnificently designed, spanning six cabins, two suites, and one family cottage, making it one of the comfiest vacation spots.
Best for: Adventure fanatics who are excited and thrilled to explore the scenic African terrain.
The looks: All of the structures on the site are made of stone and have Rwandese terracotta tile roofs. The facilities include large living spaces, fireplaces, gorgeous en-suite bathrooms, and a covered veranda. Three large fireplaces provide warmth, and two patio areas offer astounding views of the Virunga Volcanoes and their environs.
Activities: Golden monkey treks, escorted mountain bike trails, visit to the Buhanga Sacred Forest and SACOLA community or pre-requested picnics.
6. One&Only Nyungwe House
Setting an ideal example of a lavish haven, One&Only Nyungwe House sits in south-west Rwanda – south of Lake Kivu on the Burundi border and on the edge of the Nyungwe National Park, among the verdant tea plantations of Gisakura. The resort’s design honours the natural beauty of the backdrops while also incorporating local art handicraft and Rwandan themes. With towering floor-to-ceiling glazing and extensive jungle-view terraces, the interiors blend-in seamlessly with nature, maximising the breath-taking foliage and mountain panoramas at every moment. In addition, you may go on adventurous jungle expeditions to see chimpanzees, grey-cheeked mangabeys, blue turacos, and red-breasted sparrow hawks, among other wildlife, as well as the Kamiranzovu Swamps and Waterfalls, making your trip whimsically fantastic.
Best for: Families and couples who are looking for a quick getaway
The Look: The entire vibe of the property is influenced by the Imigongo geometric art style, which can be found throughout the main lodge and guest rooms, as well as local Rwandan colours of black, white, and red. The 22 guest rooms and suites are contemporary and opulent, with traditional Rwandan art and influences, and all have their own terraces with beautiful landscapes of the forest.
Activities: The hotel not only curate’s custom-made itinerary for their guests but you can also hike over the spanning forests, stargazing, join the canopy treetop walk, helicopter rides over the African backdrops, jungle boot camp workouts and archery lessons.
7. The Retreat by Heaven Boutique Hotel
Helming as an eco-friendly boutique hotel, The Retreat is situated in the hustling capital of Rwanda, Kigali. From solar electricity and organic toiletries to locally sourced furniture, the hotel truly stands on the ground ‘Made in Rwanda’ capacity. The eleven rooms of this premium boutique hotel are designed around a central swimming pool and include locally produced and sustainable wood furnishings, private patios, and local elements. You may also recoup and unwind before or after your Rwandan excursion with a delightful organic dining, well-equipped gym, meditation and yoga classes, and spa pampering. Personalised excursions, ranging from arts and crafts exhibitions to cycling and volunteering at local initiatives, can be arranged from The Retreat to ensure you make the most of your stay in Kigali.
Best for: Guests who are looking for stunning property while at their stay in the capital
The Look: Through its furnishings, the colourful yet beautiful hotel evokes eco-friendliness and Rwandan customs. The estate is decorated with locally crafted furniture made of Tanzanian teakwood and Rwandan artwork by local and rising artists. Furthermore, there is a splash of colour using the native colour palette to help you feel at home, giving in a candid Kigali experience.
Activities: From Kigali City Tour to a customised schedule including activities with each guests’ preferences are taken into account – and the day is structured around a mix of Rwandan arts, history, food, and culture. A typical day would involve a drive through Nyamirambo’s historic district, a tour of a local market, a stop at a milk bar, a taste of Rwandan coffee, and a visit to an art gallery or a fashion designer.
8. Virunga Volcanoes Lodge
The resort is positioned high on a hill with some of Africa’s best vistas, including views of the Virunga Volcanoes to the west and the Musanze Valley to the east, as well as Lake Bulera and Ruhondo. With its modest, ageless and hand-made aesthetic, the renowned premise by Volcanoes Safaris has defined Rwandese Afro-chic. With huge seats, blazing fireplaces, and eye-catching views of the surrounding Lakes and Volcanoes, Virunga Volcanoes Lodge is counted as friendly and warm. On the mountain ridge’s quaint tiered gardens provide a peaceful setting from which you can gaze out across Rwanda.
Best for: Nature aficionados who want to immerse themselves in every aspect of nature around the premise’s scenic setting.
The Look: Each of the 10 spacious thatched houses has a private patio from which you can enjoy the dawn over the stunning panorama of mountains and lakes, as well as an exclusive fireplace and a double ensuite shower room.
The two luxury thatched houses, Ibirunga and Ibiyaga, include a separate sitting area with more polished decor, and a wider terrace with views of the gorgeous Virunga volcanoes or the twin lakes.
Activities: Gorilla and Golden Monkey trekking, hiking, strolls around the nearby villages, watch Intore (traditional Rwandan dance) and visit Dian Fossey’s memorial.
9. Singita Kwitonda Lodge
From Singita Kwitonda Lodge, which is snuggled on 178 acres among marshes and lush meadows on the edge of Volcanoes National Park overlooking the Sabyinyo, Gahinga, and Muhabura volcanoes. The property is made up of a series of modest structures that are arranged to match the natural contours of the land. Every component of the lodge and villa’s design and construction and the interior design, is inspired by Rwanda’s cultural history, with bold, distinctive décor. All of these aspects come together to produce a one-of-a-kind, multi-textured experience that is genuine to this exceptional location. There are enough large expanses for you to enjoy your stay at the lodge including seven one-bedroom suites, a two-bedroom suite, and an exceptional four-bedroom villa (Singita Kataza House).
Best for: Family, couples or solo travellers who truly want to enjoy nature and observe the magnificent African sights.
The Look: The architecture is elevated from the dramatic stone walls that rise out of the volcanic stones. A dramatic variation of shape and texture is created by combining green-roofed, stonewalled, organic cabin-like buildings with airy verandas combined with the vibrant colour scheme of lava black, khaki green, ‘greige,’ and blazing orange reflects the outdoors. The furnishings have been meticulously designed, with an emphasis on artisanal elements, including woven panels, handmade tiles, and clay pots.
Activities: Hiking over the covering forests, gorilla and golden monkey trekking, stargazing, cycling, and birding, to name a few.
10. Singita Kwitonda Lodge
Launched Summer 2022, The Mantis Kivu Queen uBuranga is a floating luxury hotel that sails along Lake Kivu in Rwanda, one of Africa’s great lakes. This distinctive boat tour will take you on a luxe trip in the pleasant equatorial upland environment, with ten contemporary cabins, a swimming pool, restaurant, bar, and observation deck with a jacuzzi. The eco-balanced wellness centre will be all set to provide the ideal rejuvenating encounter encircled by the majesty of the world’s most diversified ecozones, the Albertine Rift Monatane Forests.
Best for: Guests who would want to spice their trip with an altered experience.
Highlights: This lovely houseboat has a local staff, allowing them to give an excellent experience for each visitor while also providing much-needed cash to the local community.
Activities: They give a vision into the picturesque Rwandan communities through a range of encounters focused on culture and cuisine, in addition to guided walks and bird viewing activities.
Words by: Vibha Mehta