There's no other experience like it in the world. Trekking Africa's majestic gorillas is alas getting a hefty dose of glamour in Rwanda. For those that have never been on safari, gorilla trekking comes on your second or third outing into the Africa bush. First timers we route towards Singita second timers into Botswana or Tanzania and more adventurous experiences like Nomad Tanazina or Mombo Camp - which still have a hefty dose of luxury. And on your third trip comes a bit more ‘roughing it’ in the wild trekking the roughly 880 mountain gorillas left in the wild between the volcanic forests of the DNC, Congo, Uganda and Rwanda. But now, almost 25-years after the Rwandan genocide, some of the world's ultimate luxury brands are betting big on Rwandan tourism and Africa's remaining gorilla population.
An excitement lingers on the breath of locals in Rwanda’s capital of Kigali, your easiest entry point to Volcanoes National Park. Details like a guide and permits are sorted well in advance - only 80 trekking permits are granted per day. Until now, trekking gorillas anywhere has meant tolerating some very long, anxious nights at a collection of charming but rustic lodges. In June, however, Wilderness Safaris opens Bisate Lodge with a series of six architectural villas offering designer interiors, culinary program and the best lodge to date in East Africa. Days are spent trekking one of the 12 habituated groups of mountain gorillas in the area as well as day hikes to Karisoke - the research camp and grave of Dian Fossey.
One&Only opens Nyungwe House that's more of a traditional plantation-house experience typical of Rwandan hospitality rather than the glamping-style safari lodge. Located on the edge of the Nyungwe Forest National in Southwest Rwanda, the property features 22 rooms and suites situated in 6 wooden villas with luxe amenities like open fireplaces and private wildlife decks. Singita Kwitonda (pictured) isn’t far behind with its debut Rwandan Lodge scheduled for opening in August 2019. Named after a deceased Silverback known as Kwitonda, Rwandan Lodge is situated along the Kwitonda trail and will be home to 12 hotel rooms including 8 private villas. The property compliments the brand's uber high-end portfolio of lodges in Tanzania, Zimbabwe and South Africa that have been the flagship of luxury African safari goers since their inception - and likely a deal changer for Rwanda tourism forever more.