When you think of safari, it’s not likely that you imagine Rwanda’s steep, jungle-covered terrain. But for those looking to go far off the beaten path, the country is quickly becoming one of Africa’s must-hit destinations. The first inroads came with Bisate, a Wilderness Safaris lodge that opened last year high in Virunga Mountains with a design so striking that it nabbed a top spot in this year’s Best of the Best list. And now, One&Only is adding to the country’s fledgling luxury tourism scene with the first of its two Rwanda Lodges: the One&Only Nyungwe House, set to welcome its first intrepid travelers in October.
Located some 150 miles south of Bisate, Nygunwe House offers a peek into the ancient Nyungwe rainforest that coats the mountains of the country’s Southwestern territories. It is one of only a handful of lodges in the national park (and will by far be the most luxurious when it opens), promising guests the rare opportunity to trek where few outsiders have gone before. Itineraries, for example, include tracing paths of chimpanzees and endangered Mangabey monkeys—though there are no gorillas to spot, Nyungwe is home to a full 20% of Africa’s apes—through the mahogany trees. The lodge itself is located on a working tea plantation deep within the heart of the forest, giving guests calling its 23 one- and two-bedroom suites home a chance to experience both Rwanda’s rich wildlife and cultural.
And while visitors can be plenty busy exploring all the jungle offers—hiking to former goldmines and the highest peak in the park to soak in dramatic vies of Lake Kivu—there is plenty of reason to build in a day to hang back at the house. The property mixes local contemporary design with local African craftsmanship details inspired by traditional Rwandan design. Guest rooms are cozy, fireplaces are stocked with fragrant eucalyptus wood and, showers offer up forest views, and spacious balconies come equipped with plenty of room to lounge. An infinity pool sits a canopy level, where guests can soak in the sounds of the wilderness and watch rare birds dart overhead as they float.
Long days are fueled by farm-to-table African-inspired cuisine and restorative spa treatments like the Intoga Amastachi, a seventy-five, minute deep-tissue, fully body treatment designed to stretch tight muscles and flush out toxins. Morning yoga sessions in the treehouse studio also prep guests mentally and physically for days of exploration.
And if all of this is not enough to convince you to add Rwanda to your list, 2019 will see another luxe lodge by One&Only and Singita Kwitonda Lodge open in the thick of Volcanoes National Park. Though we’d suggest getting ahead of the curve—nature calls, after all.