Set within the borders of Africa’s oldest national park, Mikeno Lodge is something of a dream for adventure travelers seeking comfort off the beaten path. Activities abound in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Virunga National Park, and the lodge is a spectacular home base for a restful respite at the end of an awe-inspiring day.
DESTINATION: VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK ??
Founded in 1925 primarily for the protection of the endangered mountain gorillas, Africa’s oldest national park provides one of the most raw and authentic experiences on the planet. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it’s one of the most biologically diverse areas on the continent. The southern segment of the park is home to the park’s main draws for visitors: gorilla trekking in the jungle, plus overnighting at Mt. Nyiragongo, the world’s largest active lava lake.
Mikeno Lodge is one of a handful of lodges within the Virunga National Park system, and the most posh of the lot. It provides a home base for local activities including the dazzling hike to the top of Mt. Nyiragongo where visitors overnight watching the lava lake bubble and boil. We stayed in cottage number 6, a charming stone structure with a large living space and a fireplace for cozying up at night. Bathrooms are ample, hot water is generally good, and laundry service is available (after a dirty volcano hike, you’ll be especially grateful for this). The lodge is located within a ranger camp, which means the evening scene is a mix of visitors to the DRC and incredibly interesting expats with fascinating stories to share.
As with most safari lodges, the experience is an all-inclusive one with all dining provided on site. At Mikeno Lodge, this means locally sourced inputs that provide income to local farmers and farm-fresh fare to visitors. Meals are served in the main dining area, an elevated platform surrounded by trees and wildlife, and a fire burns at night for a communal pre-dinner (or post-meal) cocktail with fellow travelers. Generally speaking, our three-course meals were above what we expected for lunch and dinner (vegetarian options were lovely plates piled high with fresh veggies), and breakfast was a fresh morning buffet where travelers fueled for their day of excursions.
Planning your getaway to Virunga National Park? Here’s some inspiration for your trip:
- Visiting the Democratic Republic of Congo: Media vs. Reality
- Gorilla Trekking in the DRC
- Visiting the Senkwekwe Gorilla Orphanage
- The hike to Mt. Nyiragongo, the world’s largest lava lake