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Set in an emerald-green tea plantation in the midst of a magnificent mountain rain forest on the edge of Nyungwe National Park, a showcase of Rwanda’s even-greener glories, One&Only Nyungwe House is a deliciously remote and newly remodelled camp that exemplifies the modern trend toward immersion in untroubled nature with calm and delighting luxury.
Micato and its guests have a special affection for lodges that combine slow-down-the-world serenity with exciting, expertly choreographed forays into Africa’s incomparable wilderness. One & Only Nyungwe House is just such a place.
Nyungwe House’s 22 elegantly furnished rooms are arranged in five villa clusters, and include a two-bedroom Forest Suite ideal for families. Their chic, serene African decor compliments the vibrant jungle just outside, and a comfy forest-view balcony seems to bring us right into the greenery while we sip early morning tea or enjoy a cocktail while listening to lilting birdsong and the rustle of colobus monkeys in the branches.
Each room features an inviting four-poster bed (or two twin beds), a spacious lounging area, a wood stove (and air-conditioning, when need be), and an exceptionally commodious tub for unwinding after a day exploring one of Rwanda’s oldest and most treasured forests.
The main house’s light-filled dining room offers imaginatively created dishes with a farm-to-table philosophy, a “taste of Rwanda,” as Nyungwe House says (signature dish: Nyungwe Green Goddess pasta, infused with locally grown tea, dressed in a unique tea leaf pesto, topped with parmesan foam). The House’s chefs are expert at meeting individual dietary requirements and are delighted to create private poolside and forest picnics and dinners. Since Nyungwe is set in a rolling tea plantation, the lodge’s Tea Lounge Bar and Lounge are extraordinarily inviting for tea-lovers, and its spa offers a wide variety of therapies so “extensive,” Nyungwe says, that it’s wise to “schedule plenty of time to get swathed, buffed, boosted, kneaded and released.”
Guided explorations of Nyungwe National Park’s primordial rainforest are a safari and life highlight. We’re greeted by beautifully-maned colobus monkeys and keep an eye out for the Park’s resident chimpanzees. We amble on East Africa’s only treetop walkway, almost 200 feet above the forest floor. Naturalist guides outline a program tailored to our ambitions: short, level walks from Nyungwe House, mountain hikes with expansive views into neighboring Burundi, early morning monkey and chimpanzee treks in pacific search of the Park’s elusive but active chimps and L’Hoest’s monkeys, all of whose female-dominated members sport bushy white beards.
In short, Nyungwe is a paradise for lovers of the natural world; many of its 13 primate species (25% of Africa’s total), 275 bird species, 1068 plant species, 85 mammal species, 32 amphibian, and 38 reptile species are found only here, in what we believe is the best-preserved montane rainforest in sub-Saharan Africa.
Nyungwe House also offers walking tours of its Gisakura Tea Estate, with tastings of the rich, full-bodied Nyungwe Tea, one of Rwanda’s largest and most admired exports. The House’s Nocturnal Spotlighting and Stargazing Experience is a thrill for lovers of clear, star-strewn skies, and for high-flyers, the House arranges helicopter flights over the rainforest from its own helipad.