Volcanoes and lakes

Rwanda is a very small country so the number of places worth visiting is limited. Therefore, we are trying to take it slowly and not tick everything off the list too soon! One of the main attractions is undoubtedly the north-western part of Rwanda where the Volcanoes National Park is located. This is where gorilla tracking takes place but we’re leaving this adventure to next year. Still, it’s worth visiting this area even just for a weekend as the landscape is simply spectacular. 

Our wasn’t just a spontaneous trip. We took advantage of the special offer at the Virunga Lodge to celebrate my birthday. The lodge, built at 2,300 m above sea level, is considered the most luxurious accommodation option in this part of Rwanda. It’s low season now so the regular rate is $500 per person per night; it’s nearly $900 per person per night in high season! Which makes it just a bit cheaper than the Ritz in Paris. This astronomical price includes three meals, drinks (including alcohol) and a massage, so nothing spectacular really. The houses are pretty, spacious and offer privacy and beautiful views but for this money you would expect toilets made of gold or jacuzzi, or at lealst a bathtub, but you don’t get any of that 😉 Of course, there is a shower, and water is heated by solar panels so it’s all eco friendly etc., but then again – it takes a few minutes for the water to actually get warm so quite a few litres go down the drain… And a warm shower at this altitude is very welcome as it’s pretty chilly! A hot bath would be even nicer but what to do 😉 As residents, we were able to take advantage of the special offer and paid $150 per person per night. This didn’t include beer with lunch ($5 per small bottle so 5 times the usual price) but we did get some average South African wine with our dinner for free 😉 Oh, and we only found out about the massage the next day as we were about to leave because they forgot to tell us about it…

In short: Virunga Lodge is a very pleasant place, the food was tasty, but for this price I really expected a jaw-dropping experience. However, apart from the views I wasn’t blown away. One of the staff members gave us the typical explanation for the crazy prices we get in Rwanda: promotion of low-volume tourism. Rwanda doesn’t actually want hordes of tourists and such costs keep many travellers away. Only the most determined (and well-off) ones come here. But the lodge has no issues with getting enough customers to keep it going as the accommodation offer in Rwanda is still quite limited. There is little competition so they can dictate prices and make them as high as they wish… Plus, when a tourist from the West decides to visit Rwanda and is prepared to pay $750 just for gorilla tracking, then paying a few hundred dollars for a hotel probably isn’t a big deal 😉 I certainly won’t stay at Virunga Lodge again but I will happily visit again for lunch, a hike (there are a few trails, to the lakes and a nearby village) or simply to sit on the terrace. It’s only a 2-hour drive from Kigali and you can stay the night in Musanze down below, at an Airbnb for $30 a night 😉 If you follow me on Instagram, you will have seen a few photos from there but I’m sharing them (and some more) here as well  🙂

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And that’s the house we stayed in 🙂

 

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3 thoughts on “Volcanoes and lakes

  1. Pingback: Sky is the limit – Marianna in Africa

  2. Pingback: Bye bye 2016, hello 2017! – Marianna in Africa

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