Well, this came out of the blue. Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the forest, along comes a new surprise. My inbox is filled with endless press releases and special offers, which I curse my spam filter for not catching, but this one luckily made it through. Wilderness are launching a new luxury lodge in Rwanda called Bisate Reserve, with an opening date for September 2024. Nestled close to the original Bistate near Volcanoes National Park, with views of six nearby volcanos, this spot offers all the same fantastic activities, including the unforgettable experience of gorilla trekking. And if you don’t fancy hanging with the big guys, there’s always the golden monkey’s treks, hiking or staring at over 200 species of birds, if that’s your thing. No comment.
I reached out to our friends at Wilderness, who have not hyped it in the slightest, except to say it will be the greatest thing that’s ever existed anywhere, ever. As long-term readers will know, I think gorilla trekking is one of the most extraordinary travel experiences. I called it a once-in-a-lifetime event, then realised life is really long and just drags on, so I am going again this October, where we’re staying in the four-bedroom villa, Singita Kataza House. During our last stay, the only luxury option was Wilderness’ Bistate Lodge, which opened in 2017, but since then, One&Only and Singita have joined the fray. Wilderness are now on the counter-attack, with their new ultra-luxury camp, Bisate Reserve, consisting of only four villas, each featuring private hot tubs. It can sometimes feel like winning the lottery when you find a lodge available for gorilla trekking, given the limited number of luxury lodges, so this is a breath of fresh jungle air.
Bisate began a significant transformation for Wilderness, finally showcasing their keenness to catch up with the luxury standard Singita set. I still see Singita as the best safari provider in the world, but Bistate started a transformation that places Wilderness in the safari elite – trust me, properties like Abu desperately needed it. Since then, they have entirely rebuilt Mombo, Jao, and DumaTau, all at a much higher quality, which in my view, puts them as the second-best safari provider. They also opened Bisate Kwanda Day Lounge. Gone are the days of being shuffled out because new guests were arriving. Now you have somewhere to sit in comfort, shower, enjoy a light meal, or, of course, buy something from their boutique that you absolutely don’t need.
Singita Kataza House and Singita Kwitonda Lodge are within the national park famed for gorilla trekking. Bistate Reserve will end up within this exclusive club, particularly as the park expands due to conservation efforts. Speaking of which, that is the MO of Wilderness – they are big into their conservation, not just tree huggers, but tree planters. Having recently planted their 100,000th indigenous tree through a reforestation project, that’s why they’ve aptly chosen to go with ‘reserve’ for this property.
Details are light at the moment, but as it’s priced as Bisate-but-20%-better, I have complete confidence it will look awesome. If they do actually open in September as planned (a hotel opening in time? I didn’t know it was April Fool’s Day already), I will go check it out later this year.
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