Natural Habitat Adventures is proud of our partners’ sustainability efforts around the world. One such effort is a reforestation program in Rwanda that has planted 95,608 trees to date!

Deep in the misty Virunga Mountains lies Bisate, a sustainable lodge located on the edge of Volcanoes National Park. Nat Hab travelers have the opportunity to stay at this wildlife haven on our custom African safaris. From here, guests gather to trek through the rainforest to see endangered mountain gorillas—roughly 600 of which reside in the park between 7,500 and 14,700 feet of elevation.

Bisate Lodge’s dramatic natural setting is at the heart of an amphitheater formed by eroded volcano cones. Luxury thatched suites that mimic weaver bird nests overlook emerald ridges along the crater rim, evidence of why Rwanda is referred to as ‘The Land of a Thousand Hills.’ Along with supporting the protection of gorillas through conservation travel, sustainable initiatives at Bisate include rainwater harvesting, sourcing food from local vegetable gardens, a community beehive project, and a reforestation program that has proved tremendously successful. Guests are welcome to visit the nursery, where trees are nurtured from seed to sapling, with one of the in-house agronomists and learn more about the project.

Bisate Lodge

Staff work to remove invasive species so indigenous plants can flourish, regenerating the area. Non-native eucalyptus tree plots have are cleared (and the firewood used at the lodge) to make room for African redwoods, bamboo and edible plants sought after by primates, including strangler fig, false assegai and gallium. A study by the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund monitoring the distribution of mountain gorillas’ favorite foods in Volcanoes National Park over 20 years found that gallium decreased in supply by 50%. Gallium, thistles, wild celery, nettles, and blackberries comprise approximately 70% of the gorillas’ diet.

In addition to providing food sources for primates, as more land is reforested, birds, small antelopes and other species are attracted to these natural habitats. According to Bisate’s March 2024 newsletter, “Servals, jackals and African wildcats have become firm residents of the area, and we are also seeing a slow but steady increase in different bird species as well.”  African pittas, a colorful and famously elusive bird, have been spotted on the property yearly since the project began in 2017, evidence of the far-reaching positive impact on the unique fauna and flora of the Albertine Rift wilderness.

“The Bisate reforestation project reached another milestone when we realized we had ‘hosted’ our first forest elephant on the property, after dung was spotted at the helipad. And last year we were amazed to see camera trap footage of a mountain gorilla on the property, another thrilling first. There are also regular sightings of golden monkeys, servals, buffalos and side-striped jackals at Bisate. All of these animals are resident in neighboring Volcanoes National Park, so we can safely say that our reforestation program is significantly extending the wild animals’ habitat,” remarked Wilderness Rwanda Managing Director Rob Baas in a 2022 interview. Wilderness Safaris aims to double the amount of land under its protection by 2030, and this visionary reforestation program is one of many that will help support this goal.

Bisate Lodge partners with Bisate primary and secondary schools by having students plant trees and participate in a four-day Conservation Camp. The lodge also collaborates with Wilderness Rwanda’s Children in the Wilderness (CITW), a nonprofit that provides life skills training and environmental education to children living near wildlife reserves. CITW’s six-year scholarship program currently sponsors 112 students at Bisate Secondary School. Bisate Primary School has 1,678 learners, and CITW projects include Environmental Clubs, Internet in the computer library, solar panels, rainwater harvesting, sports fields and new desks.

The Tuzamurane Cooperative facilitates opportunities for local community members to work at Bisate and aid in reforestation. It also assists in procuring arts, crafts and fresh produce for the lodge. Through guest donations, Bisate assisted the cooperative in the establishment of a large-scale nursery in the nearby village, which provides indigenous saplings to Volcanoes National Park and agricultural trees to villagers. The cooperative also started an organic composting site and teaches members how to grow mushrooms.

Join us in celebrating our partner’s conservation efforts and trek to see wild gorillas for yourself in Volcanoes National Park with Natural Habitat Adventures!