Residing anywhere near a volcano might seem like a crazy proposition, but as the 103-acre Bistae Lodge in northern Rwanda shows, it’s not as scary as it sounds. Developed by eco-tourism group Wilderness Safaris, they’ve created six forest villas that are nestled into an eroded volcanic cone on the edge of the country’s Volcanoes National Park. Surrounded by a forest of leafy trees, the design of the thatched-roof accommodations are a stunning example of eco-travel; they’re intended to pay tribute to both the the Rwandan culture as well as its landscape.
It was important to create a feeling of authenticity within the villas and ensure they accurately reflect the local aesthetic. Architect Nick Plewman and his team took inspiration from the Royal Palace at Nyanza while also working collaboratively with organizations like the National Ethnographic Museum and Teta Isibo, a local fashion entrepreneur. As a result, the interiors boast colors and textures you’ll find within the community at large. They’re also made with sustainability in mind; chandeliers, for instance, are crafted with area glass and the fire places volcanic stone. Some objects are decorated with a process called Imigongo, in which cow dung is mixed with different-colored soil and used as paint.
While the spaces inside of the villas are certainly cozy, it’s the exterior views that really steal the show. From them, three volcanoes are visible, and being part of the national park, you’ll witness some truly spectacular sights—like daily gorilla treks. Going beyond typical sightseeing however, you can also help plant trees and engage with local community members.
If you’re interested in staying at the Bistae Lodge, reservations can be made through Wilderness Safaris.