Located in north-west Rwanda, in the Parc National Des Volcans, built and run by Governor’s Camp (see Journeys by Design’s 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 exquisitely designed. Fixed to the walls, looking out over the slopes, are giant sized masks, which (as bizarre at it may sound) add a real sense of mystery to the experience. Inside, and characterised by splendidly 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, veranda, dining room and seating areas.
FOOD AND SERVICE
Guests are greeted with a cool lemonade and warm smile, and the service – from manager to bartender – is outstanding. The lodge’s food is of a consistently high standard, and returning guests often commend the flexibility of meal times.
With room for between 16 and 20 guests, the sleeping accommodation is divided into 3 types: cottage (5), suite (2) and a family cottage. Generously 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, whilst the family cottage has an extra bedroom and bathroom. Although it is difficult to do justice to every room, the overall design of Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge is simple, restrained, and the bathrooms – boasting twin sinks, a flush toilet, large tub, and shower – luxurious.
The lodge is only minutes away from the park’s headquarters, from where guests trek on foot to spot gorillas, so activities are mainly centred on trekking. The area is also excellent for its birds, although the abundance of greenery 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 setting up of a tourist “Community Walk” enhancing local crafts and businesses
- The construction of a Community Cultural Centre
- The construction of water tanks and water collection points for the 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.
In addition to the aforementioned SACOLA activities, Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge is also contributing to the wildlife conservation project in Gishwati Forest, a patch of natural forest situated at about 50 km from Volcanoes National Park. They provide technical advice to the Gishwati Forest Conservation Project in the development of eco-tourism activities in the forest, and have helped with the creation of two hiking trails through the forest.
They have also 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) and this has confirmed the presence of Serval Cat in the forest.