My last night in Rwanda was torture, thanks to the bliss and luxury provided by Nyungwe Forest Lodge, a lush five-star lodge tucked into a tea plantation.
How could something so lovely and serene and posh be torture?
Easy. We only had 12 hours there. And, as a backpacker, stepping into my gorgeous room and seeing the soft and pillow-y king-size bed, the down blanket, the over-sized tub and shower, the couch, the flat screen television, the gorgeous sliding glass doors that gave way to my own private jungle terrace, I wanted more time.
Being at the lodge was a cruel tease, like giving a child a shiny new toy, letting them play with it for five minutes, then taking it away and giving them some dingy old toy (dorm room in a hostel) the next moment.
Our lot emerged from the SUVs after a drive from Lake Kivu, which included a stop at the Congo border where we got out, snapped some photos (on the DL), and then drove up, up, up into land where tea plantations crawled up massive mountains and chimps or monkeys could pop out any second (they didn’t).
Tired and a bit hungry, we entered the property of the lodge and immediately, my jaw dropped. And that was before I even saw where we were staying.
Green mountains, mist rolling over the tops with fields of tea below.
Then, there was the lodge. We were greeted by staff with hot (fresh) tea and warm, wet towels. The main area was grand, encased in glass with sweeping views of the forest surrounding the fields.
The lodges were dotted down the hill, about six private entrances to each lodge. We walked down and had to stop at the pool.
The pool was quite possibly the most exotic, relaxing pool I have ever seen. A bright blue, the water flowed to the edges. A few lounge chairs lined the deck, looking out on to the jungle.
I could hardly contain my excitement when I opened the door to my room and was treated to the most lush suite I have ever laid eyes on, complete with a tray full of snacks, a posh chaise lounge, AC (!!) and my own personal wifi connection.
After I had calmed down (and thoroughly explored the room) I went back up to the main lodge to have a delicious lunch.
Anna and I decided we would make the patio of her room our office, so we worked a little in the afternoon, enjoying the sweet smell of the rain that came and went. Then, it was time for the pool.
The sunset as we lounged in the tepid water, giving way to the night sky and my first glimpse of the southern hemisphere’s stars. We chilled in the water for an hour or so, sipping Primus beer as bats dipped in and out of our view. It was lush, unwinding in a place like this in a country like this.
After the pool, I went back to my room and drew a luxurious bath, filled with bubbles. I sat there, breathing in slowly, and looking out onto the jungle, hoping a monkey would hop onto the terrace. (None did, but it didn’t matter.)
We had another amazing dinner (all of the food is prepared fresh from Kigali markets) at the lodge and then it was time for bed. We had a 5 a.m. call the next day … had to get back to Kigali to begin our return trips.
But first, there was one more decadent treat from the lodge. While we had been feasting, staff had come into my room and turned down the bed, placed a mint next to my pillow, turned the flat screen towards my sleeping area and left a hot water bottle tucked into the bottom of the down comforter.
Oooooh … pure bliss.
I may have only gotten five hours of sleep that night, but it was the best and most comfortable sleep I have gotten in my travels.
The next morning came quickly … too quickly. Within hours, we were all on flights leaving Rwanda, a place I quickly came to love. The group was headed back to their homes and I was headed back to my unofficial home, Spain.
Disclosure: Rwanda Development Board provided meals, lodging, transport and activities while in the country.