The Mount Gahinga Lodge, located just over the border in Mgahinga, Uganda, is a base point for several volcano treks along the DRC, Uganda, Rwanda border. Rumor has it there used to be gorillas here, but they have since all moved over to the Rwanda side of the tracks where the road system is better and the gorilla girls are less snobby.
But this beautiful area is certainly not lacking for the loss of them- truly what they left behind is an absolute treasure of mountain wilderness that I hope the more adventurous among you will choose to experience! And the lodge itself, with 7 private bungalows connected to the main house by lava stone pathways, is a perfect combination of rustic and luxury.
Partly due to a common sense approach to the remote location as well as the company’s commitment to preserving the environment, these guys are pretty serious about the eco-lodgeness of their business. But I was so thoroughly impressed with the whole operation- from the precise timing of the wake-up calls (with tea and a hot bucket shower please!), the incredibly well thought through design of the rooms, the cozy main house with a central full-circle fire place, and hot water bottles placed in your bed while you eat dinner, I really don’t think “eco” has never been done so well.
Each room is connected to a private bathroom by an enclosed pathway (which serves the double function of 1. keeping the warmth in and 2. preserving your dignity when you forget your robe as you make a blind fumble to the bathroom at 2a.m.) Each room is also equipped with a private patio, a bed so comfortable that I nearly abandoned all thoughts of hiking come Saturday morning, and some basic practicalities (torch, candle, towels, and plenty of seating). Things you won’t find in the room include: internet, electrical outlets, or a telephone for ringing reception (though there was a big hand bell.. I am afraid the desire to ring it wildly never did hit me, though if it strikes you, I would not be surprised to find it promptly summons one of the lodge’s attentive staff).
Like many of the lodges in Rwanda, prices are “all-inclusive.” This includes 3 meals a day, tea, coffee, and a daily massage (!). It does not include alcoholic drinks or tips you may feel compelled to give the staff, who were excellent. My stay was $250 for the weekend including the full day hike up Mt. Sabyinyo.
I imagine there are several ways you can make your way here- probably the easiest being to book a tour through Volcanoes Safaris (main office at the Mille Collines Hotel in Kigali)- but my group decided to drive ourselves. The road system in Rwanda verges on excellent, so assuming you are able to get your hands on a 4×4 and lots of motion sickness pills, I say jump ON that winding road! (Things to note: the border crossing closes at 7pm, so leave Kigali by 2pm at the latest and seriously guys. You DO need a 4×4 as the last 10 km (about an hour) or so of the journey is some ROUGH riding.)