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Gorilla, Rwanda

Discover Rwanda with One&Only

Authentic, luxury experiences in style

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14 February 2020 by Claire Benktander

There are some travel moments that linger long in the mind, emerging in stories told years after they were first experienced. Seeing mountain gorillas in the wild is, undoubtedly, one of them. But, it's where you base yourself that truly enhances your holiday – and this is what makes One&Only so special. Indeed, Rwanda's properties offer contemporary suites, gourmet dining and spas, but it’s the incredible experiences on offer – whether at the foothills of a volcano, immersed in local communities or among those mighty silverbacks – that really make them stand out. Here, we’ve curated the very best experiences that Rwanda’s two iconic One&Only properties have to offer.

Discover One&Only in Rwanda

One&Only Gorilla’s Nest

The recently-opened One&Only Gorilla’s Nest is less a hotel than it is a nature retreat, with the jungle surrounds placed, rightfully, front and centre. Nestled in the foothills of the dramatic Virunga mountains and with Africa’s oldest national park just next door, guests enjoy stays in suspended treehouse lodges adorned with private viewing decks and outdoor showers to really make the most of the surrounds, while the main lodge offers roaring fires and seasonal, local produced plucked directly from the hotel gardens, as well as natural treatments in the forest spa. And, with a primary focus on nature, there are myriad ways to explore, with all manner of authentic, back-to-nature experiences on offer.


Complimentary experiences at One&Only Gorilla's Nest

The lodge also offers a whole host of complimentary activities, with the gorilla briefing a particular must-do, as you learn about the ecology and behaviour of the mountain gorillas with your expert guides by the bonfire with lanterns, hot drinks and snacks. It makes for the perfect combination with a complimentary stargazing experience to take advantage of the region's little outdoor pollution. We'd also recommend a coffee brewing tour where you'll even blend your own to take home – and don't forget to head into the beautiful surrounds with a guided nature walk to spot hundreds of bird and butterfly species.

Villa exterior, One&Only Gorilla's Nest

Virunga Mountain

A full list of complimentary experiences available can be found here.

Payable experiences at One&Only Gorilla's Nest

It is, of course, those mighty jungle inhabitants that are the main draw – the surrounding rainforests are dotted with some of the world's last groups of mountain gorillas – and we include trekking tours in all of our tailor-made trips. After being split into groups depending on ability, you'll trek – with expert local guides – into the jungle to find a mountain gorilla family, spending a magical hour taking it all in. That's alongside chances to track rare golden monkeys in the Virunga mountains and climb the Volcanoes National Park's eponyms, such as Mt Bisoke, for stunning crater lake views. We also recommend taking the opportunity to immerse yourself among the area's local families, with proceeds going back into the community. There's the likes of local village walks and banana plantation tours on offer, on which you'll plant your own banana trees and try the local speciality – banana beer.

Mother and baby gorilla, Volcanoes National Park

A full list of payable experiences available can be found here.

Discover One&Only Gorilla's Nest

One&Only Nyungwe House

A 45-minute helicopter flight or five-hour drive away lies One&Only Gorilla's Nest's spectacular sister property, One&Only Nyungwe House. Nestled in the heart of the primeval Nyungwe Forest Reserve, looking across a working tea plantation, expect the likes of spa treatments, an infinity pool and five-star service. Stylish black and wood suites are all open fireplaces and African art-adorned walls with private treetop deckings, with the stylish timber-beamed restaurant host to gourmet, garden-to-fork dining and even private dining by candlelight. Here, the focus is on tours to spot our closest ancestor – the chimpanzee – alongside a whole host of other incredible experiences.

Firepit, One&Only Nyungwe House

Complimentary experiences at One&Only Nyungwe House

One of One&Only Nyungwe House's many draws include its myriad local experiences with which guests can get involved. Join in with the locals' conservation efforts and see their initiatives come to life within the national park, or get involved with Umuganda, a nationwide community programme rooted in Rwanda's road to independence, where citizens devote one day a month to working in the local community through infrastructure development and environment protection initiatives. For something more active, perhaps explore the jungle trails with a guided bicycle ride – tailored to your ability – or walk through the local tea plantations where you'll learn to pick tea leaves and taste some local Gisakura black tea.

Exterior, One&Only Nyungwe House

Local community in Gisakura

A full list of complimentary experiences available can be found here.

Payable experiences at One&Only Nyungwe House

Catching sight of the chimpanzee is a must on a Nyungwe stay, and a tour – included on all our trips – will see you trek through the surrounding forest that's home to one of East Africa's last in-tact chimpanzee populations. It's an unforgettable moment as they hoot and jump among the treetops, followed by expert trackers, in what is a true back-to-nature experience. There’s also the chance to track rare Colobus monkeys or even take it all in via helicopter, soaring high above the jungle surrounds. For something more serene, opt for the beautiful canopy walk, for stunning forest floor views and the chance to spot myriad flora and fauna species.

Chimpanzee trek, Nyungwe National Park

A full list of payable experiences available can be found here.

Discover One&Only Nyungwe House

Complimentary experiences at One&Only Gorilla's Nest

  • Gorilla briefing 
  • Coffee brewing tour
  • Medicinal botanical garden tour and guided nature walk
  • Guided mountain bike tours through the jungle
  • One complimentary yoga session per day
  • Visiting the chef’s organic vegetable garden and the Rose Garden
  • Forest hammocks and swing
  • Outdoor cinema

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Payable experiences at One&Only Gorilla's Nest

  • Gorilla trek – included in all our tailor-made holidays
  • Golden monkey trek
  • Volcano climb
  • Local village walk
  • Banana plantation tour
  • Dian Fossey hike – hike the jungle slopes to reach the primatologist Dian Fossey’s grave and visit the Karisoke research centre
  • Sacred forest walk – short walking tour to learn about local folklore and birdlife
  • Private bird watching tour
  • Photography experiences
  • Rwanda folklore circle – immerse yourself in the dances and stories of the local community in an interactive performance
  • Private yoga sessions
  • Caving experience
  • Twin lakes birding experience visiting Rwanda’s lakes & birdlife
  • Bicycle taxi tour – learn and interact with local villagers and learn the art of basket weaving, rug weaving & wood carving
  • Traditional botanical medicine tour – learn of the plants used in traditional healing by local community members
  • Gorilla’s Nest Warrior Adventure – workout in the forest
  • Iwacu Cultural Village tour – support the local village and learn about the vision of founder Edwin Sabuhoro, who helped to stop wildlife poaching and hunting
  • Handspun Hope – assists vulnerable women from within the community on a working farm that produces hand-woven sculptures

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Volcanoes National Park

Complimentary experiences at One&Only Nyungwe House

  • Local conservation
  • Umuganda – local community work
  • Guided bike ride
  • Local tea plantation tour
  • Chef’s garden – discover the inspiration for the dishes you’ll enjoy nightly as you tour through the kitchen garden
  • Nature bootcamp – exercise among the leafy tracks surrounding the tea plantation
  • Spear throwing – experience an iconic part of Africa’s history as you try your hand at spear throwing on the hill top
  • Hilltop archery 

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Payable experiences at One&Only Nyungwe House

  • Chimpanzee trek – included in all our tailor-made holidays
  • Colobus monkey trek
  • Helicopter tour
  • Canopy walk
  • Birdwatching – varying degrees of difficulty available
  • A range of forest trail hikes of varying difficulty

Canopy walk, Nyungwe National Park

Stay at both One&Only Rwanda hotels on our luxury holiday

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