Mount Gahinga Lodge

Nestled at the base of the Virunga Volcanoes, Mount Gahinga Lodge is a stunning luxury adventure lodge hidden in the southern corner of Uganda. Its rustic charm is inspired by traditional design and building techniques.

Gahinga Lodge is the perfect base to go gorilla tracking, track the rare golden monkey, climb a volcano, walk through local villages and most of all to share the culture of the Batwa pygmies, the oldest inhabitants of the Central African rain forest.

The lodge with its beautiful living room, sun room and terrace has fantastic views of the volcanoes and the Kisoro valley below.

The luxury bandas reflect the magic of the aesthetic traditions of the Bufimbira people, with their distinct colours. Each Banda has an ensuite luxury shower room, fireplace and private porch.

Guest Bandas
•  6 recently renovated bandas. 3 doubles and 3 twins, all with a fireplace in the room. No guide/tour leader rooms available at the lodge.
•  All rooms are complete with en-suite bathrooms with flushing toilet, double vanity and shower with hot & cold running water.
•  Sun terrace overlooking the Virunga Volcanoes with scenic panoramic views.
•  Personal butler service for all guests.
•  Tranquil massage room available to every guest. One 30-minute complimentary massage per guest per stay. Extra massages are available at extra cost.
•  Full board accommodation including all soft drinks and house alcoholic beverages (excludes premium drinks).
•  Complimentary laundry service.
•  Power sockets/charging facilities available in the main lodge, hair dryers available in the rooms. No air conditioners.
•  Wi-Fi and internet access available in the main lodge only (connection can be slow).

Deluxe Guest Banda
•  There are 2 deluxe bandas which have a private separate sitting room and more refined interiors.
•  Perfect for honeymooners or a family


 

Gahinga Batwa Village
The Building of a permanent settlement for the Gahinga Batwa, Uganda

The Batwa are thought to be one of the oldest surviving indigenous people in the Central African Region. Known for their unique pygmy culture in the forests, the Batwa of the Virunga Mountains survived by hunting small game, gathering plants and fruits, living in caves and constructing huts of leaves and branches.

With international attention on conservation of the endangered mountain gorillas, the Mgahinga part of the Virunga volcanoes in Uganda was turned into a national park in 1991 to provide protection to the wildlife from poaching and habitat encroachment. The creation of the park required the Batwa to be removed from their homes in the mountains and be displaced in a modern world unfamiliar to them. The Batwa ended up squatting in nearby farm land. They earned a living through occasional labor or begging. With limited education, adapting to the modern world has been a difficult journey. They do not have resources or land and suffer from acute poverty, malnutrition and poor health.

Volcanoes Safaris has now built a permanent village for the Batwa community and their families. About 10 acres of land has been purchased to allow them to build homes, a community centre and have land for agricultural and recreational use. The homes were completed in early 2018 and the official launch of the village took place at the end of May 2018.

The Gahinga Batwa community is comprised of over 100 adults and children. They have had no permanent home since they left Mgahinga National Park over 25 years ago.

Classic Gorilla Tracking
There is 1 gorilla family that can be easily tracked inGahinga National Park, just a short distance from the lodge.

Golden Monkey Tracking
With only a small number remaining in the world, the Golden Monkey can be found in the foothills of the volcanic mountains of Mgahinga National Park in Uganda. Characterized by its bright golden body, cheeks and tail, with contrasting black limbs, crown and tail end, these playful primates are a pleasure to watch. Whether you choose to do this on the Rwandan or Ugandan side, the walk will take you from the bamboo stands and forested gorge on the lower levels of the volcanoes, to the elevated heath and moorland higher up.

Batwa Heritage Experience
Supported by the Volcanoes Safaris Partnership Trust, this hands-on experience will open your eyes to another world – that of one of Uganda’s longest surviving tribes. Visit the local Batwa community in their traditional dwellings and learn about how they have lived for generations in the surrounding forest.

Batwa Dance Group
Supported by the Volcanoes Safaris Partnership Trust, the local Batwa community visits Mount Gahinga Lodge and performs their traditional song and dance for lodge guests.

Climb a volcano
Guests staying at Virunga Lodge or Gahinga Lodge have easy access to the Virunga chain of volcanoes, which offer challenging hikes and stunning panoramas. The three most popular volcanoes to climb are Mt. Gahinga, Mt. Sabyinyo, and Mt. Muhavura. These hikes are of varying difficulty and typically take a full day. The treks start at 7:00am from the park headquarters, from where visitors drive to the base of the volcano.

Hike the Kisozi Caldera
Located less than a kilometer from Mount Gahinga Lodge, the Kisozi Caldera is an easy to moderate hike to the top of a small hill where the caldera sweeps from corner to corner. A caldera is formed by volcanic eruptions, and many dot the stunning landscape of this volcanic region.

Birding
Both Uganda and Rwanda offer some of the world’s best bird watching, with a vast diversity of bird species. Uganda has over 1,000 bird species with 150 found only in Uganda. Rwanda has over 700 bird species and is home to the second highest number of Albertine endemics in the Albertine region. Each of our lodges offers the chance to see a number of different birds, with the vast majority endemic to the Region.

Exclusive Gorilla Tracking
This exclusive experience allows a total group of 8 guests to track a gorilla group in the forest on their own. This enables guests to have a deeper connection with these fascinating animals, accompanied by their own guide who can give them personal briefing.

The Lodge 
•  6 recently renovated bandas. 3 doubles and 3 twins, all with a fireplace in the room.
•  2 Deluxe Bandas.
•  All rooms are complete with en-suite bathrooms with flushing toilet, double vanity and shower with hot & cold running water.
•  Sun terrace overlooking the Virunga Volcanoes with scenic panoramic views.
•  Personal butler service for all guests.
•  One 30-minute complimentary massage per guest per stay. Extra massages are available at extra cost.
•  Full board accommodation including all soft drinks and house alcoholic beverages (excludes premium drinks). 
•  Complimentary laundry service. 
•  Power sockets/charging facilities available in the main lodge, hair dryers available in the rooms. No air conditioners. •  Wi-Fi and internet access available in the main lodge only (connection can be slow).

Safari & Lodge Activities
•  Gorilla tracking (exclusive gorilla tracking available).
•  Golden monkey tracking.
•  Visit the newly built Gahinga Batwa Village.
•  Take the Batwa Cultural Heritage Tour.
•  Visit the Batwa Vocational Centre.
•  Enjoy a Batwa dance performance.
•  Hike Mount Sabinyo, Mount Gahinga, Mount Muhavura volcanoes. 
•  Hike the Kisozi caldera.

Getting to the Lodge
•  From Entebbe: 1-hour flight.
•  From Kigali or Virunga Lodge: 40 minutes by helicopter.
•  From Bwindi Lodge (Kihihi): 15-minute flight or a 4-hour walk through the forest + 2-hour drive. 
•  From Kyambura Gorge Lodge (Kasese): 15minute flight or a 6-hour drive through Queen Elizabeth National Park.

Seasons & Climate
•  Average daytime temperatures: 15-25 celsius, at night: 7-15 celsius.  
•  Uganda is located on the Equator and is an all- year- round destination.
•  High season: 15 Dec - 28 Feb / 1 Jun - 30 Sep. Low season: 1 Oct - 14 Dec / 1 Mar - 31 May.

Useful Information
•  Lodge altitude: 2,285m. GPS coordinates: 1.3517° S, 29.6206° E. 
•  Cash payments in US dollars and Ug shillings accepted. No credit cards. 
•  Gratuities are at the discretion of the guest. For VS staff and guides we suggest $3-5 or more per day. For park guides $5-10 and for trackers $15 per guest.
•  Children under 15 years of age are not permitted to track the gorillas. They are very welcome at the lodge, but please be advised we do not have childcare facilities.
•  Check out time for all guests is 11am on the day of departure.

VOLCANOES SAFARIS PARNERSHIP TRUST PROJECTS AT MOUNT GAHINGA LODGE

The Building of a Permanent Settlement for the Gahinga Batwa, Uganda
The Batwa are thought to be one of the oldest surviving indigenous people in the Central African Region. Known for their unique culture in the forests, the Batwa of the Virunga Mountains survived by hunting small game, gathering plants and fruits, living in caves and constructing huts of leaves and branches.

With international attention on conservation of the endangered mountain gorillas, the Mgahinga part of the Virunga volcanoes in Uganda was turned into a national park in 1991 to provide protection to the wildlife from poaching and habitat encroachment.  The creation of the park required the Batwa to be removed from their homes in the mountains and be displaced in a modern world unfamiliar to them. The Batwa ended up squatting in nearby farm land. They earned a living through occasional labor or begging. With limited education, adapting to the modern world has been a difficult journey. They do not have resources or land and suffer from acute poverty, malnutrition and poor health.

A group of about 18 Batwa families from those displaced live in makeshift shelters on a tiny rocky site at Musasa, about 4km from the entrance of Mgahinga National park and Volcanoes Mount Gahinga Lodge, surviving as best as they can.

Volcanoes Safaris has now built a permanent village for the Batwa community and their families. About 10 acres of land has been purchased to allow them to build homes, a community centre and have land for agricultural and recreational use. The homes were completed in early 2018 and the official launch of the village took place at the end of May 2018.

The Gahinga Batwa community is comprised of over 100 adults and children. They have had no permanent home since they left Mgahinga National Park over 25 years ago.

Praveen Moman, Founder of Volcanoes Safaris and Volcanoes Safaris Partnership Trust says of the project, “As a leading luxury lodge company offering unique safari and cultural experiences to our guests, we are also very proud of our company ethos to support communities around our lodges. Uganda is one of Africa’s most beautiful and diverse countries and we want to help preserve its rich culture. We are excited to see this project come to fruition after many years of working with the Batwa and understanding their culture and desperate needs”.

Batwa Dance Group
The Batwa dance group performs weekly for the local community drawing huge crowds of children to watch! This is a very important activity for the VSPT as it works to integrate the Batwa with the local communities, who since their eviction from the forest have been reticent to share their precious land. Performances are also organized for Volcanoes Safaris guests staying at the lodge, who are encouraged to join in with the singing and dancing.

Batwa Vocational Centre
The Batwa Vocational Centre is the hub of the educational work conducted by the VSPT with the Batwa. Here the VSPT has donated a quarter of an acre of land where they learn how to farm, particularly potatoes and wheat. They are also taught sewing skills and how to make crafts, which will allow them to repair and make their own clothes as well as utensils. They also sell their products to generate an income to allow them to pay for food, medicine and other necessary items within the community.

Batwa Heritage Site
The Batwa Cultural Heritage Site represents a significant commitment to the Batwa tribe from Volcanoes Safaris and the VSPT. Built on the Mount Gahinga Lodge property, the Heritage Site consists of a demonstration-based herbal garden, a small collection of traditional huts and a short trail that allows the Batwa to demonstrate to interested Volcanoes Safaris guests, how they used to live, hunt, and collect honey and other resources from the forest. The VSPT is committed to expanding and developing this Site so more of their culture can be preserved.

For more information about Mount Gahinga Lodge click HERE.

To see videos on Mt. Gahinga click HERE and HERE

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