For true wildlife fans, there is a new and rather exclusive way to be one with nature. Alongside an ancient rainforest in Rwanda, within the lush green expanse of a working tea plantation, a new type of extra-luxurious lodge was built to offer the ‘intimacy to the natural world’ that today’s affluent travelers look for in Africa – if they can afford it. Manager Jacques Le Roux offers a virtual tour of the One&Only Nyungwe House.
The One&Only Nyungwe House, that opened its doors in autumn 2018, offers an exclusive window to Africa’s fascinating wildlife and culture. Guests from all over the world book the new five-star rainforest resort hotel to actually be in the heart of one of Africa’s most lush rainforests. In a luxury environment (room rates start around US$1,500) where – as the brochures claim – wildlife comes to them instead of the other way around. A place to find ‘once in a lifetime’ moments, as Resort Manager Jacques Le Roux put it.
How did the first guests of the One&Only Nyungwe House rate this new accommodation?
“Feedback from our guests has been extremely positive, they appreciate our remote and beautiful location on a working tea plantation on the edge of the Nyungwe Forest National Park, and the captivating experiences our colleagues deliver, whether that’s a private dining experience overlooking the rainforest, or a hike to observe wild chimpanzees in their natural habitat.”
What is it that guests will not easily find elsewhere in Sub-Sahara Africa?
“It is the ultra-luxury oasis in the heart of the wilderness, offering an exclusive window into Rwanda’s fascinating wildlife and culture. The Nyungwe Forest is one of the oldest mountain rainforests in Africa, and home to an incredible diversity of rare flora and fauna including 13 different species of primate, representing 20% of all the apes in Africa, rich plant life that has thrived for millions of years, as well as over 275 different species of birds. Hiking trails lead directly from the resort and guests can explore the forest through adventurous treks to discover chimpanzees, black and white colobus monkeys, grey–cheeked mangabeys, the Kamiranzovu Swamps and Waterfalls, giant hornbills, great blue turacos and red-breasted sparrow hawks.”
How do guest take in the rich environment?
Every moment at One&Only Nyungwe House has been carefully considered to celebrate our environment – guests can experience jungle bootcamps, treehouse yoga and soothing indigenous spa therapies accompanied by the sounds of the rainforest. Or guests can simply observe the spectacular wildlife vistas from their own private terrace.”
How does this new type of resort suit the needs of today’s wealthy traveler?
“Luxury travellers today want to explore further afield, to experience different activities and new destinations. We provide our guests with the rare opportunity to explore this remote and authentically wild location, and to go where few have gone before. Travellers are seeking deeper connections with their travel destinations, through personal encounters with wildlife and experiences to immerse themselves in the local culture and customs in a meaningful way. At One&Only Nyungwe House we offer the opportunity for guests to participate in Umuganda - a nationwide initiative in Rwanda in which locals spend the last Saturday morning of every month working in their community, giving back in some way, from developing infrastructure to environmental protection, and it is one of our most popular activities.”
Guests that want the best, also in the food department. What is on the menu?
“Executive Chef Treasure Makwanise and his team of chefs design every menu daily. The ethos is farm-to-table cuisine, with ingredients locally sourced or picked fresh from the Chef’s Garden. Dishes are Africa-inspired; a number of dishes contain tea leaves from the surrounding plantation. The chef’s Nyungwe Green Goddess Pasta, served with locally sourced green beans, peas and spinach and dressed in tea pesto topped with parmesan foam is a must-try! We have also created several unique dining experiences, including our traditional African boma, which is the perfect setting for guests to gather to share stories of the day’s adventures and enjoy a barbeque of freshly grilled meat, local fish sourced from nearby Lake Kivu, and vegetables from the Chef’s Garden.”
Reviews claim that this luxury lodge provides ‘an intimacy with the natural world’. How?
“This intimacy is achieved in part by our location, as the resort is truly immersed in nature with guests able to view rare wildlife on their doorstep. Our Experience Guides also offer exceptional experiences to bring our guests closer to their surroundings. These guides help discover Rwanda’s unique culture and wildlife. In addition to trekking chimpanzee and rare monkey populations throughout the ancient forest, guests can take part in a wide range of remote outdoor pursuits from birdwatching, to a canopy treetop walk at the very top of the rainforest. It is as intimate with nature as one can get.”