It’s easy to be blinded by the beauty of Bisate. Set in the heart of northern Rwanda’s Musanze Valley at the foot of the majestic Virunga Mountains, the safari lodge is unlike any you’ve ever seen. There are no canvas tents adorned with leather trunks or mosquito-net-covered beds here. Utterly un-camp-like are its six thatched villas, which, burrowed deep into a fern-covered hill, call to mind giant birds’ nests or oversize baskets. Inside is equally distinct; the domes are a strange and wonderful combination of royal and rustic, where glittering green chandeliers composed of thousands of recycled glass shards and giant, black, egg-shaped bathtubs blend with volcanic-stone walls and black-and-white animal hides. Only the sweeping terraces off each villa provide a reality check, with views over Mount Bisoke and, just beyond, the legendary Volcanoes National Park.
Indeed, the real beauty of Bisate is what lies outside its shaggy walls. The lodge has helped to open up the wonders of this long-overlooked African country, where nearly half of the world’s critically endangered mountain gorillas reside and where Dian Fossey carried out her groundbreaking research on the great apes during the 1960s and ’70s. Thanks to its unique setting and style, Bisate creates the dilemma that every safari camp should: the hunger to experience everything—and the temptation to relax and do nothing at all.