Located in north-west Rwanda, in the Parc National Des Volcans, built and run by Governor’s Camp (see Journeys by Design Kenya accommodation), and owned by the Rwandanese community trust, SACOLA, Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge is a first rate lodge.
Set in landscaped gardens, with stunning views of the Virungas, Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge is a stone and tile build, and consists of a main lodge and 8 sleeping rooms. The main lodge, with mustard coloured walls, large Mediterranean style tiling and beautiful windows, is low and beautifully designed. Fixed to the walls, looking out over the slopes, are giant sized masks, which as bizarre at it may sound adds a real sense of mystery to the experience. Inside, and characterised by beautifully maintained wooden floors, white walls, low slatted ceilings, a mix of slumber seating, open log fires and African prints, the shared areas include a bar, library, games room, verandah, dining room and seating areas.
With room for between 16 and 20 guests, the sleeping accommodation is divided into 3 types: cottage (5), suite (2) and a family cottage. Well spaced, and similar in build to the main lodge, each – irrespective of individual idiosyncrasies – includes 2 private verandas, a separate bathroom and sitting rooms with fireplaces. The rooms come well equipped with large / twin beds, room to dress in, and the family cottage has an extra bedroom and bathroom. While it is difficult to do justice to every room, the overall design of Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge is simple, restrained, and the bathrooms – twin sinks, flush toilet, large tub, shower – luxurious.
The lodge is only minutes away from the park’s headquarters, from where clients trek on foot to see the gorilla, so activities are pretty much centred around trekking, but the area is also excellent for its birds, although the abundance of greenery etc. demands patience and a steady pair of binoculars.
To date Governors’ Camp Collection has paid over US$500,000 to the SACOLA Community Trust to fund their projects which have included:
•The creation of vegetable gardens for a community farming project
•The reconstruction of a local primary school for 1600 pupils including construction of 10 classrooms.
•A contribution to a rural electrification project
•The construction and maintenance of local roads
•The building of homes for refugees from the genocide
•The rehabilitation of the road leading to the Community Cultural Centre
•The protection of water dispersal systems and erosion control
•The setting up of a tourist “Community Walk” enhancing local crafts and businesses
•The construction of a Community Cultural Centre
•The construction of a small amphitheatre
•The construction of water tanks and water collection points for the community
•The construction / repairs of the buffalo wall along the park’s edge to protect farmers crops from marauding buffaloes
•Initiating a one family one cow program which provides cows to poor people in the local community.
•The construction of two villages which house 126 formerly destitute farmers on the fringes of Parc National des Volcans in Rwanda”. The village provides houses, water tanks and plots of land to people living close to the edge of the national park who are being resettled within the framework of the park extension project.
•The creation of carpentry and other micro- enterprise workshops for the community.
In addition to the aforementioned SACOLA activities, Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge is also contributing to wildlife conservation project in Gishwati Forest, a patch of natural forest situated at about 50 km from Volcanoes National Park. We provide technical advice to the Gishwati Forest Conservation Project in the development of eco tourism activities in the forest. We have helped with the creation of two hiking trails through the forest and we have contributed to the promotion of Gishwati Forest as an eco tourism destination. We have also just provided one year of salaries and field costs for one the tracking teams supporting the habituation and field research of a group of Chimpanzees in the forest.
Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge has also provided field cameras to monitor the wildlife in Buhanga Forest (a small protected natural forest situated in Musanze area) this has confirmed the presence of Serval Cat in the forest. We are also contributing to the promotion of the forest as an eco tourism destination.