In the past several years, Rwanda has welcomed a spate of world-class property openings near Volcanoes National Park, signaling the meteoric rise of this off-the-beaten-path destination. Yet few are as exclusive as Singita Kwitonda Lodge, which — set right on the edge of the park’s grounds — offers unprecedented access to more than a third of the world’s remaining mountain gorillas. In fact, it’s so close to the action that guests may spot buffalo, elephants, or even one of their ape cousins lounging on the lodge’s 178 acres. (True to Singita’s conservationist mission, the land is gradually being reforested to better preserve gorilla habitat).
The light-filled design and expansive picture windows in the lodge, as well as its eight standalone suites, ensure that you never forget why you’re here.
With expansive views of the Sabinyo, Gahinga, and Muhabura volcanoes, it’s a pleasure to spend the afternoon sipping a G&T from your complimentary minibar and soaking in your private heated plunge pool. Rooms are elegant yet cozy with a terrific sense of place, highlighting local materials and craftsmanship such as volcanic rock, woven ceilings, and hand-fired terracotta brickwork made by surrounding communities.
Despite being immersed in nature, Kwitonda Lodge nevertheless provides guests with every creature comfort imaginable. There’s absolutely no roughing it here — service is noticeably better than most five-star hotels and resorts and the warm staff (who will feel like old friends within 24 hours) have an uncanny ability of offering a coffee or snack before you even realize you want it yourself. Meals here are a highlight; the kitchen serves an ever-changing, extensive menu showcasing whatever is freshest from the garden that day. Lunch features an array of light, shareable small plates, such as ginger caramel chicken, red pepper soup, and beef skewers, while dinner is a more formal three-course menu with dishes like braised lamb and tomato risotto. If you have any special requests — say, you’re just feeling a pizza one night — the chef will graciously accommodate you if they can. A sommelier is always on hand to help you with pairings from an extensive wine list.
Because just about everyone comes here with the purpose of gorilla trekking, Kwitonda Lodge goes out of its way to make that experience as special as possible. The evening before your first trek, guests meet with celebrated conservationist and wildlife specialist Charles Nsabimana to discuss gorilla behavior, etiquette, and language in a dedicated Conservation Library, decorated with fascinating artifacts including handwritten notes from Dian Fossey.
Rwanda is an easy place to fall in love with — Singita Kwitonda Lodge just makes it that much easier.
- Location: Right on the edge of Volcanoes National Park in northwestern Rwanda
- Rating: Five-Star-Plus
- The Vibe: An intimate, luxurious retreat in one of the most stunning natural sanctuaries in the world.
- Food + Drink: Rates include all meals and beverages (including premium wines and spirits, excluding French Champagne). You can also grab complimentary snacks from a communal deli or your suite’s mini bar, or ask the staff to whip up a famous Rwandan coffee for you. A dedicated waiter is assigned to you at the beginning of your stay to manage all your meals and make personalized suggestions.
- Amenities: Private outdoor heated plunge pools, in-room massage treatments, complimentary laundry service, in- and outdoor fireplaces, wine cellar, and a dedicated gear room for borrowing hiking equipment
- 5 Nearby Attractions: Gorilla trekking, golden monkey trekking, the Ellen DeGeneres Campus of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, local village tours, and cycling through the picturesque countryside
- Any Personal Neighborhood Recs? Don’t miss the chance to spend a full day or two in the vibrant capital of Kigali, where you must begin and end your journey in order to reach Kwitonda Lodge. There, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of this thriving country’s resilient spirit and inspiring growth since the horrific 1994 Rwandan genocide. Highlights include the Kigali Genocide Memorial, Inema Arts Center (a collective of local artists), and Question Coffee, a small-batch, sustainable roastery that empowers 30,000 Rwandan women coffee farmers.
- Rooms: Seven freestanding one-bedroom suites and one two-bedroom suite. There’s also the exclusive-use, four-room Kataza House villa, which comes with its own private chef, butler, and experiences manager.
- Pricing: One-bedroom suites start at $2,100/night per adult during the off-peak season
- Closest Airport: Kigali International Airport