Volcanoes Safaris Opens Kibale Lodge on 1 July 2024

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Volcanoes Safaris, the pioneer of gorilla and chimpanzee eco-tourism in Uganda and Rwanda since 1997, announces the opening of Kibale Lodge in Uganda on July 01, 2024. Bookings are now open!  

Volcanoes’ fifth lodge, is a landmark development: it creates a unique circuit linking the finest gorilla and chimpanzee sites in Africa. 

Kibale Lodge will comprise eight bandas, plus a spa and pool. Four bandas will open in July and four more by the end of the year. The lodge is built in the renowned Volcanoes handmade style by an in-house design and build team of African artisans led by Ugandan-born founder Praveen Moman.

Kibale Lodge sits on a ridge with stunning views of the Rwenzori Mountains, looking towards the west and the Queen Elizabeth plains and the Kazinga channel to the south. The 150-acre site is surrounded by lush homesteads on the rolling hills around Fort Portal, known for its warm and welcoming climate. The lodge is in the heartland of the old Batoro kingdom and the area of the historically important medieval Bachwezi kingdom.

Praveen Moman said, “We are delighted to be opening Kibale Lodge. There are three important things to share about this lodge. Firstly, as with our other lodges, it has been hand-built by our artisans. Secondly, we are honored to work with key partners to promote conservation and community activities around Kibale. Finally, Kibale Forest - the Primate Capital of the World - is one of Africa's best parks to view chimpanzees, with a community of 1,500 chimps.”

Locally Inspired and Built 

Kibale Lodge has been hand-built to a new level of elegance, and luxury by Volcanoes’ in-house teams of artisans from the countries of the Great Lakes, including local engineers, fundis, decorators, and upholsterers. 

The team of 400 workers has been led by Cyprien Serugero, who built the iconic Virunga Lodge in Rwanda 20 years ago, and John-Bosco Tukamuhabwa, the site supervisor who rebuilt Mount Gahinga Lodge in recent years. They are supported by Joseph Nsabimana, Head Carpenter and furniture maker, Wycliffe Tuyambaze, upholsterer with their careful craftsmanship. 

Celine Ishimwe, 28, is the lead botanist who trained at the University of Rwanda. Over the last year, her team of 50 gardeners has planted 200,000 seedlings of indigenous plants in the central 23 acres of land.

Praveen adds, “The whole team has worked with rare passion and dedication, and I pay tribute to their spirit. We look to our in-house team for design inspiration. We work in 'the barefoot villager' style, sitting down together and working out practical local approaches to aesthetics, making everything locally, whatever the origin of the design, in the renowned Volcanoes Safaris Afro-chic style, reflecting the richness of the cultures and aesthetics of the Great Lakes.” 

The lodge's hospitality will embody the deep traditions of the local Batooro people, which are based on values and respect for family and elders. Each guest will have a personal butler and should expect to be given a pet name, an ‘ampaako,’ during their stay, which is a mark of respect for visitors and elders.

“Lodge staff will wear uniforms based on traditional local clothing, including the suuti, which ladies wear on celebratory occasions. The food will include special locally inspired dishes, such as Filinda, a classic delicacy usually served at marriage ceremonies, made with slow-cooked beans and eaten with steamed kalo (millet bread) or matooke (bananas) and served with groundnut sauce and dodo (steamed greens),” Praveen shares. 

Community and Conservation Partnerships 

At Kibale Lodge, Volcanoes Safaris will work in partnership with the Jane Goodall Institute to organize community outreach programs through the Roots and Shoots program, particularly to build up women leaders in conservation.

They are also working with the Jane Goodall Institute and wider participants of the Albertine Apes Alliance to promote responsible ecotourism in Kibale Forest. The Albertine Apes Alliance is an informal advocacy network that brings together stakeholders involved in conservation and ecotourism in the Albertine Rift. It was established at a conservation retreat at Mount Gahinga Lodge in 2022 as part of Volcanoes Safaris' 25th anniversary celebrations. You can read about the First 25 Years of Volcanoes Safaris in a new photo essay here.

A new cultural partnership with the Rwenzori Sculpture Foundation, set up by the Rungwe Kingdom based near Kibale Lodge, will bring sculptures relating to the traditional clans of Uganda to the lodge. Finally, Volcanoes is building a new vocational center at the local Sadhguru School, located near the lodge.

New Safari for Great Ape Viewing 

As well as opening the new lodge, Volcanoes is also introducing a new 10-day ‘Primates of the Great Rift Valley’ Safari. This combines Kibale Lodge with chimpanzee trekking at Kyambura Gorge Lodge and gorilla trekking at Mount Gahinga Lodge. As a special introductory offer, guests booking the new Primates of the Great Rift Valley Safari will receive a free night at Kibale Lodge. Rates start at $12,970 per person sharing. 

Praveen says, “Seeing the different chimp families at Kibale and then continuing to the Lost Chimps of Kyambura Gorge and the wildlife and birds of Queen Elizabeth, ending with the enchanting gorilla family in Gahinga is one of the great safaris of Africa.”

A thoughtful chimpanzee peers through the lush foliage of Uganda's Kibale Forest, home to Volcanoes Safaris' eco-conscious Kibale Lodge.

Need To Know 

Kibale Lodge is an hour’s drive from the historic hill town of Fort Portal and an hour from the Kasese airstrip, from which there are daily flights to and from Entebbe and to Volcanoes Safaris’ four other lodges. Kibale Forest, the base for chimpanzee trekking, is a thirty-minute drive from the lodge.

New images and a short film have been created with Blackbean Productions, who sensitively convey the essence of the lodge and its staff, the landscape and the local communities.  

Rates for Kibale Lodge start from $1,200 per person per night on full board in the low season. Rates include accommodation and meals, all soft and alcoholic drinks (except French champagne) including cellar collection wines, cocktails and single malt whiskeys, laundry services, lodge activities, massage and spa treatments.

A $50 per person per night community fee is applied and donated to Volcanoes Safaris Partnership Trust (VSPT), which was established in 2009 as a non-profit organization to support long-term, self-sustaining projects that enrich the livelihoods of local communities, promote the conservation of the great apes, restore natural habitats and work with communities and institutions to reduce human-wildlife conflict. Guests can visit and participate in the community and conservation projects at Kibale.

As a special introductory offer until 31 December 2024 guests booking the new Primates of the Great Rift Valley Safari will receive a free night at Kibale Lodge.  

Bookings are now open. Please email our sales team at [email protected]. 

 

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Booking Enquiry

To make a booking, please complete this form or click here to chat to one of our sales consultants via our live chat. Alternatively, send us an email on [email protected].
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.