One & Only Resorts: Gorilla Chimpanzee Safari

One & only are a new experience in Rwanda for that gorilla and chimpanzee expeditions. Start with One & Only Gorilla’s Nest Lodge located six miles southeast of Volcanoes National Park. Speaking of one and only, it’s one of the only places in the world where you can see a mountain gorilla at that real luxury experience. The lodge accommodates guests in 14 beautiful one or two-bedroom rooms and 7 elegant suites reminiscent of a tree house with awe-inspiring forest vistas.

You will get a bean-to-barista master class on the art of making coffee. Rwanda has nearly half a million small coffee producers. They’ll also be treated to a traditional barbecue hosted at a cottage that the legendary conservationist Jack Hanna once called home.

The rooms seamlessly connect the indoor spaces with the outside environment, with floor-to-ceiling glass windows opening out onto a spacious and secluded outdoor deck that features a sitting area and comfortable swing chair.

The rooms boast luxurious king beds and are decorated in beautiful artwork, fabrics and home wares inspired by Rwandan Imigongo art. Guests will enjoy the superb en-suite bathrooms that feature an al fresco shower and a standalone bathtub facing the forest.

The suites are styled in the same manner as the rooms, but with a spacious lounge area and larger outdoor deck with superb couches and where guests can choose to dine in greater privacy.

The onsite restaurant is no different from the other one & only sites. Beautifully presented and flavourful cuisine is inspired and crafted from only the freshest local seasonal produce sourced from the onsite garden or local farmers. The daily changing menu shows the best of Rwanda’s fertile land and is layered with African influences.

Guests can also enjoy a drink at Nest Bar, where resident mixologists offer a wide range of cocktails as well as superb red and white wines from the continent and overseas. For those looking for a more intimate dining affair, there are a host of private dining options from gourmet picnics in front of the outdoor movie screen to barbecues under the stars.

Reside with one & only silver back suite surrounded by trees offering complete privacy and seclusion with incredible views from just about every window, as well as the extensive outdoor terrace and exclusive rim-flow swimming pool. Aside from the pool, the outdoor space features multiple dining areas, an open-air lounge, barbecue terrace and a cozy fire pit. The elegantly designed and decorated suite also boasts an extensive indoor dining and lounge room, master bedroom and a stylish en-suite bathroom with a delightful free-standing bathtub.

Gorilla trekking is one of the major activities at the lodge centre, go ready to see the habituated mountain gorilla families with a permit costing $1500 found in the Volcanoes National Park. However, there are other activities available to guests; including learning about the history of Rwandan coffee and enjoying a guided tasting and visiting the former residence of famed conservationist Jack Hanna – which features a library, games room and an interactive kitchen where guests can partake in cooking classes. Other facilities include wellness centre, where guests can enjoy several treatments, as well as a small pool, sauna and steam room.

With all the amenities on this lodge you are assured of the everlasting memories as well as value for money.  When all is done with the gorillas cross to the sister facilities for chimpanzee trekking.

One & Only Nyungwe House stands out for its location, the intimate 22-room property is set within a working tea plantation just steps from Nyungwe Forest National Park, one of the oldest and largest forests in Africa. Nature lovers will quickly feel at home surrounded by the rain forest and nestled in the mountainous region.

Each suite boasts an open fireplace, terrace and large soaking tub for post-trek recovery, and the onsite spa specializes in African-inspired treatments, accented with ethical and chemical-free Afri-cology skincare products.

The homestead plays host to your all-inclusive meals and drinks. There, the chef circulates each evening to chat with guests. The staff will surprise you by arranging one of your meals at the unique private table on the grounds set among the tea leaves.

Each room has an open fireplace, a private terrace, a flat screen TV and a spacious bathroom, and given that most safari lodges in Rwanda don’t have TVs or in-room Wi-Fi, it feels like a major upgrade.

Families and groups can book a two-bedroom suite, set between the rain forest and the tea plantation. The Nyungwe rooms all have jungle-facing balconies to look out for L’Hoest’s monkeys; Imigongo accents and hand-woven plates created by women from Rwanda and Ghana.

Enjoy the holistic spa that comes to the rescue for post-trek treatments, including a two-hour-long Forest Awakening, which starts in the swings out in the forest and ends with a mud scrub in the outdoor shower before a full-body massage; a limb-rescuing hot-stone and deep-tissue combination; and a ritual that begins with a smoke bath and guided breath work.

Dining Room is open all day for comforting Rwandan cuisine, such as cassava-flour flat breads, stews made with vegetables picked from the garden, and house-baked breads and pastries. The menu changes daily, and there are traditional barbecue nights regularly, too, with fire and a troupe of local dancers in case the rain forest wasn’t interesting enough.

The two types of tea lounge: one that hosts traditional Rwandan tea ceremonies and another that swaps out the tonic for G and tea. Try the Gisakura 1952, with black tea from the estate, infused gin, bitters, vermouth and Campari; or a stiff steeping of gin, lemon-leaf syrup and lemon juice all of which can be taken out on the terrace to be enjoyed with a fitting view of the plantation.

Right from your bed, encounters with the region’s rare chimpanzees, flora appreciation (there are more than a thousand species of plants, including a whopping 140 types of orchids) and mountain-biking. Anyone immune to vertigo can complete the Canopy Walk, a 160-metre-long suspension bridge 70 metres above the rain forest, or head up in a helicopter to see it from an (exotic) bird’s perspective. You’ll be able to befriend the colobus – monkey troops and keep watch for the 322 types of bird in residence in the national park.