The Lodge –near the Parc National des Volcans and the famous mountain gorillas — has extraordinary views. Guests can see two lakes and several volcanoes. But Page wrote that such a location is not ideal for the gardener.
“If I were to choose a site for a garden for myself,” he wrote, “I would prefer a hollow to a hilltop. A panorama and a garden seen together distract from each other. One’s interest is torn between the garden pattern with its shapes and colors in the foreground and the excitement of the distant view. Everything is there at once and one has no desire to wander to make discoveries. . . .”
If, however, one does have to have a view, he advised: “Above all avoid any garden ‘design’ or any flower color which might detract from the main theme, which in such a case must be the view. . . . If there must be flowers they should be close against the house or below a terrace wall and so only visible when you turn your back to the view. I would arrange the gardened part of the garden — flowers and shrubs — to the sides or far enough below, so that they and the view are not seen at the same time.”
The landscape designer for Virunga Lodge seems to have worked right from the book, with beautiful results.
About three hours drive from Kigali, the Lodge has eight “bandas” or individual cabins, which operate on solar power and use rainwater recovered from the rooftops. It is very expensive at $600 per person per night,* although this is inclusive of all food and drink (including alcohol). (We just stopped by for a look.)
To get a better sense of the layout and location of the Lodge (and what it’s like to arrive by helicopter), you can watch this short YouTube video.
The same morning as our stop at the Lodge, we visited two local schools and a nearby village family. Our guide was an American businessman working with faith-based development endeavors in Rwanda. He took us to the site of a house he is building for himself. At the moment, it’s just a stone and concrete foundation set on the edge of a hill.
But again, the views were absolutely amazing. He wisely plans to leave the land surrounding the house (which is all sloping downward) very natural, hoping to attract as many birds as possible.
Living here, one might begin to feel like a bird.
*There are reductions for Rwanda residents.