About nine hours southwest of Kampala lays the sleepy town of Kisoro. It’s unique geography, located on the corner of Uganda, Rwanda and the DRC, makes it home to one of the most stunning landscapes in East Africa. It is here, amongst lakes and mountains, that you will find the Volcano Safari lodge.
Established in 1998, the Volcano Safari’s lodge sits just beyond the town at the base of three mountains, Mounts Sabinyo, Gahinga and Muhuvura. It is from this vantage point that you can truly appreciate the beauty of the National Park that dominates the landscape.
When you first arrive at the lodge it’s difficult to judge how expansive the property is. The reception area, where incoming guests are greeted by staff, is small and cozy. A short, covered walkway leads to the dining and communal area. Here a fireplace sits in the middle of the living space, surrounded by comfortable couches and chairs. This keeps the room warm during the cold Kisoro evenings. Bookcases and magazines line the walls and give the room the cozy feeling of a mountain cabin. There is also a dining area, full service bar, a breakfast nook, and outdoor seating where you can admire the vast gardens that surround the property.
You can rent one of the nine fully serviced Bandas for $100 USD a night. Inside you’ll be treated to nothing but luxury. The Bandas are large and tastefully furnished with chairs, tables and a large, soft bed.
A small, secure, covered walkway from the Banda leads to a private bathroom. Here, trays with water bottles, candles, and large soft towels make you feel right at home. Steaming hot showers fall through the wooden floorboards of the vaulted room, which still uses eco friendly facilities while feeling full service. Since Kisoro gets painfully cold at times, Banda guests will be delighted to find that after dinner, the staff sticks two hot water bottles under the down comforter on the bed.
Through the Volcano Safari’s website or office you can arrange reservations, day activities, and food all in one go. Their options for day activities range from a strenuous climb up Mount Gahinga, Sabinyo or Muhuvura. Or you can opt for the lighter Golden Monkey Trekking, which takes you halfway up Gahinga, or there is always the Batwa Trail, where you can explore how Batwa culture has lived in the area for generations.
A climb on Mt. Sabinyo will take all day long. It is estimated at twelve hours and takes you over some of the most stunning scenery in all of Africa. It is from its tallest peak that you can stand in all three countries at once. “It was scary, scrambling over ladders and climbing to the top” one intrepid trekker said, after spending the day walking up and down the mountain, “but the scenery was amazing, it was almost indescribable, like something out of a movie.”
A trek up Gahinga is slightly less strenuous but the views are similarly stunning while still fitting nicely into a day hike. Golden Monkey trekking, one of the most popular activities, takes you into the brush of the bamboo forest. It is here, in the bamboo that trackers guide you to where groups of the monkeys live. At first you can only see one or two, as they jump past you on bamboo stocks. But as you are guided further into the jungle, up to forty monkeys can emerge. It is truly a remarkable experience
This is also the same location where gorilla trekking occurs. The gorillas, which had travelled over to Rwanda for a while, have just returned to the Ugandan side of Mgahinga National Park, and so travellers can look forward to gorilla treks becoming more available.
During your hikes, a packed lunch, provided by the staff at Volcano Safaris, keeps you from going hungry. Chapatti and tuna rolls, fruit, a chocolate bar, a boiled egg, and a muffin keep even the most strenuous hikers from having hunger pangs.
After the day’s activities are over, hikers who stay in Banda’s can relax with a complimentary massage. Campers are also welcome to a massage, although there is a fee. For those who tend to have endless amounts of energy there are also community walks, which take you through the villages around the park, and the option to climb a local caldera.
A three-course meal is included in the package each night (as is breakfast and lunch). You choose from two options and sit back as the attentive staff tends to your every need. For those looking for vegetarian options or those who have food allergies, just arrange with Volcano Safari’s ahead of time, and they are happy to accommodate your needs.
For busy, city dwellers looking for an adventure weekend away from Kampala, Volcano Safaris provides one of the easiest, hassle free options. It is a worthwhile mix of adventure and grit with luxury accommodation at its core. “We spent almost twelve hours up and down the mountain today” said one guest, “We all slipped in mud, and were covered in dirt. But as soon as we arrived back it was hot showers, a three-course meal and cold beer. It’s the best possible way you could end a day like that.
To arrange a trip or inquire about staying at Volcano’s many lodges around Uganda and Rwanda, you can visit their offices at Plot 27, Lumumba Ave. Reach them by telephone at: +256 (0) 414 36464/5 or Mobile: +256 (0) 772 741718 or email their sales staff at email@example.com.