Tranquility and excitement are found in equal measure among the rolling hills and mountains of Nyungwe Forest in the southwestern corner of Rwanda. The remote area is home to one of the largest preserved rainforests on the African continent. The beauty is stunning, and the forest is renowned for having more than 275 bird species and 85 different types of mammals, including 13 primates.
Nestled on the very edge of this remarkable 1,020-square-kilometre park is the equally remote and attractive One&Only Nyungwe House, an exclusive lodge with 22 wooden villas, designed to blend into the surroundings. In fact, it’s hardly visible until you actually arrive on the property, which is part of the Gisakura tea plantation.
The resort is a 35-minute flight from the capital, Kigali, followed by a 45-minute drive through beautiful countryside. Alternatively, you can arrive by helicopter. Either way, you’ll be greeted by traditional African drummers.
One&Only made its debut in Rwanda when it opened Nyungwe House in October 2018, after an extensive renovation. The resort was originally developed in conjunction with the government in 2010. Tourism’s been steadily growing during the past decade and is now the largest foreign exchange earner for the country of 12 million people.
However, Nyungwe House itself is peaceful and idyllic with unobstructed views of the tea fields and the forest beyond.
The main lodge features floor-to-ceiling windows to take it all in. And the villas also have views and decks looking out onto the forest so you can revel in the sights and sounds of the nearby jungle.
The lodge and villas are tastefully decorated with traditional artwork such as geometric Imigongo images. And the colour scheme echoes that of Umutara, in the Eastern Province, showcasing savannah shades while evoking a warm yet breezy and natural ambiance.
The 12-acre property itself is home to numerous birds and even the occasional L’Hoest’s monkey. And, of course, the eco retreat can arrange for jaunts farther afield to visit chimpanzees or to do a canopy walk through the rainforest.
Nyungwe also offers archery lessons, yoga classes, and even a bootcamp workout if you want a cardio session.
So guests can properly appreciate the setting, Nyungwe House provides tea tastings, complete with a plantation tour. Sam Ndizeye explains that the estate, which dates back to 1947, grows Camellia sinensis, the third-sweetest tea in the world.
Chef Treasure Makwanise creatively incorporates tea into dishes such as pesto, with macadamia nut and parmesan foam. His menu features food fresh from his garden and other local produce.
The spa embraces local traditions by offering holistic therapies and using products from luxury South African brand Africology. The adjacent infinity pool is cantilevered over the forest and is pure bliss.
In the evening, you can watch traditional dancers, learn about the magnificent night sky, or just relax by a bonfire.
The magic of Nyungwe’s natural beauty casts a spell unique to this exquisite location.
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