Luxury travelers, conservationists, wildlife lovers, active travelers, photographers and those who love highly unique hotels
Gorilla trekking, golden monkey trekking, nature walks, massage treatments, guided photographic experience, cultural experiences and tree planting for conservation
Trekking to see wild mountain gorillas is one of the most special experiences in Africa and there is no better way to do it than with the team at Bisate. From their effortless operation of the gorilla trekking to the impeccably curated and unmistakably Rwandan in-camp experience, this is the height of what ecotourism is meant to be.
Mist Draped Magic
In the heart of a magnificent continent lies an emerald oasis where a thousand rolling hills give way to the sharp peaks of volcanoes carpeted in lush rainforests. Rwanda’s Volcano National Park is a landscape steeped in intrigue. Home to one of the last populations of wild mountain gorillas, this is an incredibly special place to explore. It’s no wonder that it has inspired countless people, including the famed conservationist Dian Fossey.
This is nature’s most exuberant expression of chlorophyll – towering trees laden with vines, moss draped on branches dripping from the moist air, oversized ferns and dense groves of bamboo. All this abundance supports not only gorillas, but also rare golden monkeys, diverse birdlife and even elephants, buffalo, bushbucks and giant forest hogs.
Encounter of a Lifetime
Bisate has perfected the gorilla trekking experience for their clients. Traversing the slippery slopes of a tropical rainforest in pursuit of the gorillas can be a wet and messy affair, but they have managed to create an effortless experience. Not only are you located a very quick drive from the national park’s entrance, but the guiding team is top notch.
No two treks are alike because the gorilla family you visit, the time of day, the location and their behaviors all impact what your time with them will be like. Sometimes they are close to a trail head, so the trek is quick. Other times they’re deep in the hills and it takes a little more time and effort to reach them. No matter whether you’re there in rain or shine, your time with them will be life changing.
There is no other wildlife experience that compares to an encounter with great apes. Sharing over 98% of our DNA, they are utterly human-like in a way that is utterly fascinating. There are plenty of other intelligent, social animals out there, but there is nothing quite like looking at a wild gorilla and seeing the recognition in their eyes. They see you, they know you, they understand you. No other animal gives you that sense of sharing a moment in time as two souls.
Every encounter is unique. You may see mothers fawning over their babies or teenagers roughhousing. One of the toddlers may mock thump their chest – you can practically hear the majestic silverback chuckling at this while the young females groom him. No matter what combination of antics and tender moments you get to see, it will be unbelievable. This is the type of experience that inspires you to do better for the planet and its fellow inhabitants. It should be on everyone’s bucketlist – not just wildlife lovers.
Beyond the gorillas, it is well worth it to trek to see the golden monkeys on your last day. They live in much larger colonies of up to 70 and are just as animated and entertaining to watch as the gorillas. The experience is more relaxed, and you will have more autonomy to move around the area where the monkeys are playing. Their sweet, fluffy faces are the perfect way to wrap up your Rwandan primate adventure.
The Spirit of Rwanda
From the moment you first lay eyes on Bisate, its mysterious aura draws you in. You’ve been ascending into the volcanic highlands on a bumpy road, driving past flourishing farms and tea plantations, when suddenly it appears. Perched high on a ridge of a caldera, the chic peanut shaped suites pop out from the mottled forest backdrop.
When you finally arrive into camp, you truly get a sense of Rwanda. They have taken the beautiful complexity of a nation and a land and expressed it as a lodge. From the building materials they used and the colors they chose to the design elements and the pieces they selected, this lodge is Rwanda. It is an expression of the nation’s vibrancy and resiliency, their rich cultural heritage, their ability to find beauty in the unity of disparate elements.
The team at Wilderness Safaris did a marvelous job of creating an impeccably curated Rwandan design that gives the most authentic and intricate sense of place. Every fabric, every door, every knob, every wall surface, every colour, every print, every scent – is all thought out to emulate a very special sense of place. The suites mimic nests tucked in the rainforest. The color palette is a cacophony of greens, just like the rainforest, paired with black accents to echo the rich volcanic soil of the region.
Everything is handcrafted and specially designed for Bisate. Nothing was simply chosen from a catalog – every single piece was created to celebrate this remarkable place on Earth. When you get your cappuccino in the morning, it’s not only made with locally grown coffee, but also has a gorilla stenciled onto the foam in cocoa powder. That’s the type of attention to detail that makes a lodge so memorable and unique.
In every suite, spacious windows reveal panoramic views of mist draped volcanoes. Organic materials create a neutral backdrop for bold geometric patterns to pop on. A large soaking tub and fireplace create the perfect amount of coziness – even though you’re in the tropics, the park lies at a minimum of 7,000 feet of elevation, so nights can be chilly! A private balcony curves along the back of your suite, giving you your own little hideaway to soak in the exquisite views with a glass of wine in hand. Sit back and watch the clouds flow around the volcanoes as jewel-toned sunbirds flit through the treetops.
Just as you’d expect, the food is absolutely delectable. Thanks to that rich volcanic soil, farming is a core part of the Rwandan economy. The lodge has access to a ready supply of fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs that bring every dish to life. With tea and coffee growing another integral part of the countryside, the selection on hand is outstanding. The Bisate ginger tea is an absolute must while there – we have clients that still rave about it to this day!
Dressed sharply in their uniforms made from traditional kitenge cloth, the staff also bring the spirit of Rwanda to every moment of your stay. They are warm, friendly and laid back, but also bring a keen eye for effortless service and creative problem solving needed when operating an ultra-luxurious property in the middle of a rainforest with ever changing weather and a developing infrastructure.
While at the lodge, be sure to go for a guided walk around their reforestation project on the surrounding hills. In partnership with our company, Wilderness Safaris have undertaken a bold conservation initiative aimed at expanding the habitat available for the endangered mountain gorillas. We are buying back agricultural land from farmers at fair market price and converting it back to native forest. For more information about how they are doing this check out this story.
With a member of the Bisate Agronomy Team, you can wander the hillsides learning about their efforts and long-term plans. Stroll through the young trees, which are already attracting native wildlife back to the area. Chameleons, sunbirds, duikers and countless other critters are repopulating these hillsides. Once the forest is healthy and mature, the land, which lies adjacent to the boundary of the national park, will be gifted back to it to expand the protected habitat.
As a Mango Safaris client, you will have the privilege of planting your very own native tree into the new forest if you so choose. Mango co-founders Teresa and Casey both took the opportunity to do so when they visited in 2019. We love giving our clients the chance to connect with conservation in a tangible way. It’s the perfect reminder of the power for good they hold when choosing how and when to spend their tourism dollars.
To get the full Bisate experience, we recommend a minimum of three nights so that you can get one gorilla trek and one golden monkey trek. If you want to maximize your time with the gorillas, four nights is best so that you can have two gorilla treks and one golden monkey trek.
Check out our Grand East Africa or Rwanda Primate Safari for a little inspiration to get started on your own Bisate adventure.