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11 Off-the-Grid Hotels for When You Really Want to Escape

Exterior Virunga Lodge Rwanda CR Hotel

We use 'get-away' as a synonym for vacation, because at best, that’s exactly what it is—a chance to escape our daily lives, if only for a few days. But there are some places that take this idea even further, where ‘getting away’ actually means ‘as far from civilization as possible’ (think, a medieval-looking fortress in the middle of the desert, or a cantilevered lodge balancing precariously on an oceanside cliff). If you’re searching for a spot where no one will find you, these 11 hotels are a good place to start.

 Virunga Lodge is a rustic hilltop retreat with ten suites (or *bandas*), half overlooking stunning Lake Burera, the other with sweeping views of Rwanda's jagged volcanic peaks. You can't go wrong with either side, but we suggest going for one of the two deluxe options that have living rooms and fire pits. Rooms are spacious and cozy, and filled with bright local fabrics. Rates include all meals and drinks, plus a daily massage—much needed after a day spent gorilla trekking, hiking, or birdwatching in the nearby Volcanoes National Park. As the day winds down, get cozy in the living room for a game of cards and a glass of South African wine, or watch the sun set from the stone terrace.


Virunga Lodge, Rwanda

Set at the height of a lush peak between Lake Bulera and Lake Ruhondo, you might think all of Virunga Lodge’s charm lies in its location—and, exempting the Rwanda retreat's totally amenable staff, you’d be right. The camp’s 10 bandas (suites) not only sport their own fireplaces, but each has a private terrace overlooking the volcanoes or twin lakes. While you’re sitting on what feels like the top of the world, make time to partake in the lodge’s best-known activity, silverback gorilla tracking, or sign up for a hike to Mount Karisimbi or the Visoke volcanoes.


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To protect gorillas from disease, no children under 15 years are allowed to go gorilla tracking. For guests booking a stay at Virunga Lodge, please note that the minimum age limit for children at Virunga Lodge is 12 years.

Safari Activities

Chimpanzee Tracking

Tracking chimpanzees in their natural habitat, as they swing from the branches in the canopy high above the forest floor is nothing short of exhilarating. The chimps effortlessly cross and scamper through the trees above the gorge, and visitors on the other hand must cross the river using natural bridges in order to keep up with the chimps. So although the walk usually lasts only 2–3 hours, descending the steep gorge and crossing the log bridges over the river requires some agility and fitness.

Chimpanzee tracking is also available in nearby Kalinzu, a forest reserve 30 minutes drive from Kyambura Gorge Lodge where there is a community of about 40 habituated chimpanzees.