Volcanoes Safaris has been at the forefront of reviving tourism in Uganda and Rwanda since 1997. Today, Volcanoes Safaris is recognized as the leader in gorilla and chimpanzee ecotourism tourism in the region.
The Volcanoes team are excited to share the rich culture, history, and hospitality traditions of the Great Lakes Region of Africa. We look forward to welcoming you to our lodges, whether families, single travellers, conservation groups, or those celebrating a special event who would like to book a lodge on an exclusive basis!
- Virunga Lodge: the Original Gorilla Experience in Rwanda
- Mount Gahinga,Uganda: the Batwa Culture and Gorilla Lodge
- Bwindi, Uganda: the Jungle Gorilla Lodge
- Kyambura Gorge Lodge: the Chimpanzee and Wildlife Lodge
The Volcanoes Safaris journey from 1997: from simple camps to luxury lodges
Volcanoes Safaris was founded in 1997 in Uganda by Praveen Moman. We have been at the forefront of reviving gorilla tourism in Uganda and Rwanda.
Twenty five years ago Praveen set up Volcanoes Safaris in Uganda and became the first company to set up simple camps in the areas around the gorilla parks in Uganda.
Today Volcanoes Safaris has three lodges in Uganda: Mount Gahinga Lodge at Mgahinga National Park; Bwindi Lodge, bordering Bwindi Impenetrable Forest; and Kyambura Gorge Lodge, overlooking Queen Elizabeth National Park, neighbouring a gorge with a community of threatened chimpanzees.
In 2000, Volcanoes Safaris became the first international safari company to take clients to Rwanda. In 2004 we opened Virunga Lodge, the first international company to build a lodge near the gorilla park after the war. Today Virunga Lodge is one of Africa’s most loved lodges, offering the luxury gorilla experience.
Recognition as Leaders in Great Ape Tourism
Volcanoes Safaris helped kick-start gorilla tourism in Rwanda after the genocide through the Volcanoes BLCF Partnership Project. In 2005 the company become a charter signatory to the UN Kinshasa Declaration on Saving the Great Apes, the only private sector company to do so. In 2009, the Volcanoes Safaris Partnership Trust (VSPT), a non-profit organisation that aims to create long-term, self-sustaining projects that enrich the livelihoods of local communities and promote the conservation of the great apes was established.
Today Volcanoes Safaris is recognised as the leader in great ape tourism. The company received the Travel + Leisure Global Vision (2012) and Condé Nast Traveler World Savers (2013) awards. In 2016 the VSPT Bwindi Bar near Bwindi Lodge won the Pure Community Engagement award for training disadvantaged youths; and Virunga Lodge was recognized as Africa’s most romantic retreat by the World Boutique Awards. In 2020 Volcanoes Safaris and DEG (Deutsche Investitions und Entwicklungsgesellschaft MBH, a financial institution incorporated in Germany) partnered to provide Covid-19 healthcare and training to support job security, conservation and communities in Rwanda and Uganda.
In 2013, Praveen Moman, the founder was asked to join the Congo Basin Forest Partnership, which promotes sensitive economic development of the forests of Central Africa. Praveen has been described as a ‘visionary conservationist’ by the Financial Times and as ‘one of top twenty-five conservation-philanthropists’ in Africa by Departures Magazine. In 2014, Into the Virungas, a conversation with Praveen about his essential vision to champion the people, the animals and forests of Africa was published on the 10th anniversary of the opening of Virunga lodge. In a continuation of this series of photo-essays, two further publications were launched in 2021: ‘Safeguarding the Chimps of Kyambura’ and ‘The Batwa of Gahinga: Honouring our Forefathers’.
In 2021 Praveen has been named winner of the Newsweek Future of Travel Awards.
During the last twenty five years we have had a clear vision. We have sought to develop lodges that are sensitive to local culture and aesthetics, connect to the local community and conservation projects and seek to use resources responsibly.
We have sought to retain the core Afro-shabby-chic design ethos that was derived from Praveen’s life’s experiences – the simplicity of life in the bush, the values espoused by Mahatma Gandhi, the appreciation of African culture and aesthetics. Our primary style derives inspiration from many sources; from the homes of local African villagers, the landscape, the handmade approach, and the improvised design by eye rather than the obviously contrived (called kinege in Swahili). In post-colonial Africa it is important to be respectful to the culture and people. The essence of the feeling of luxury is that you should not notice it, nor should it be contrived.
We minimise the environmental impact of the lodges by using solar power when possible, harvesting our own rain water and recycling water and waste water when possible. The lodges avoid using any unnecessary single use plastics.
The Volcanoes Safaris’ journey has taught Praveen many important lessons. Above all, that the conservation of species such as the mountain gorilla has to be part of the economic mainstream to succeed; sensitive and controlled tourism has an essential role to play in conservation; and most of all, if an endangered species is to survive, the focus of conservation and tourism must be on communities getting tangible long-term benefits.
The Volcanoes family, from guides and waitresses to lodge managers and office staff in Kampala and Kigali are committed to ensuring that guests have a distinctive, unique and memorable lodge experience while on a gorilla or chimpanzee safari. We employ over one hundred and fifty staff from the Great Lakes region – Rwanda, Uganda, DRC and Burundi – many of whose families have lived through conflict, mostly based at our lodges and our ecotourism projects. Empowering local staff at all levels of management is a key aspect of Volcanoes’ philosophy and is exceptional among leading lodge companies. Staff benefit from Volcanoes’ extensive training programs and manage guest experience from beginning to end and are complimented for the exceptional level of service. They take a particular pride in sharing the cultures of the Great Lakes region. The overwhelming majority of our management staff are from the region and over 50% are women; 85% of the staff at lodges come from the neighbouring communities.