Meaningful luxury vacation with hands up holidays

luxury volunteer vacation rwandaRwanda and Bhutan may be on different continents but they share the same tourism strategy: deliberately restricting visitor numbers and focusing on the high-end traveler. We love this approach, as it fosters sustainability and thus helps secure the long-term future of the destination (in our view New Zealand should follow suit, perhaps Montenegro and Costa Rica too). Moreover, you can make a difference in Rwanda and Bhutan, even as a family.

Both Bhutan and Rwanda are seeing an influx in new eco-luxury properties, and its not like there was a dearth before: Aman (5 Amankora lodges) and Como (2 resorts) have been active in Bhutan for years, and Governor’s Camp has had the delightful Sabyinyo Lodge in Rwanda for a long time.

The sublime eco-luxury chain Six Senses is now in Bhutan, and One & Only now have two properties in Rwanda: Nyungwe House for the chimpanzees and Gorillas Nest for, well, gorillas.

And even more recently, Singita are opening two properties, Kwitonda Lodge and Kataza House near the gorillas in Rwanda, and Bhutan Spirit Sanctuary recently opened in the Neyphu Valley near Paro,  offering an all-inclusive wellness experience. And to complete the “awesome foursome”, Wilderness Safaris has opened the incredible Bisate Lodge near the gorillas and Magashi Lodge in Rwanda’s Akagera National Park.

Luxury family volunteer vacation Bhutan

Bhutan Spirit Sanctuary‘s mission is akin to our own: to create lasting positive change in their guest’s lives, so no surprise that we are big fans!

this unique 24-room Sanctuary has already captured the hearts of many. Overlooking the beautiful Neyphu valley of Paro, and its wellness focused on traditional medicine treatments, it has raised the bar of Inspirational Hospitality.

Bhutan Spirit Sanctuary is the ultimate dream of Louk Lennarts, who was the Founder and Visionary of the very successful Fusion Maia concept in Vietnam. Louk has now gone one step further in developing an all inclusive spa, wellbeing and spiritual sanctuary in the heart of the most spiritual and happiest country in the world – Bhutan!

The Sanctuary is not just a resort, it is a destination in itself. This is why the room rates include all meals and ALL wellness and special activities.
Private yoga and meditation classes, consultations with traditional medicine doctors, ku nye massages, moxibustion, hot oil compression, hot stone and herbal baths, cooking and pottery classes, traditional archery and darts, hiking with picnics and visits to nearby monasteries, all are complimentary.

Luxury volunteer vacation rwanda

Set in the magnificent northwestern reaches of Rwanda, right on the edge of Volcanoes National Park, Singita Kwitonda Lodge and Kataza House will open their doors in August 2019 and form part of an ambitious conservation partnership with the Rwandan government and local communities.

The One Planet sustainability framework, which supports all of Singita’s operations, is at the core of the construction of Singita Volcanoes National Park, which was designed with respect to and in acknowledgment of its remarkable location.

This conservation philosophy translates to sourcing local materials, minimising waste, saving water and conserving energy, and it’s part and parcel of Singita’s continuous commitment to sustainability. At Singita Volcanoes National Park, the décor and design of Kwitonda Lodge and the four-bedroom exclusive-use villa, Kataza House, incorporates locally sourced and produced materials for walling, ceilings and surface finishes, while celebrating the handiwork of local artisans such as stone masons, weavers and ceramicists.

Their striking handcrafted details and the prevalence of local expertise and artistry not only ensure an authentic aesthetic that is true to the lodge’s geological setting, but also ties in seamlessly with Singita’s goals and sincere desire to partner with communities in and around its lodges.

The lodge and villa are set against the backdrop of the dramatic Virunga Mountain Range – home to the critically endangered mountain gorillas and also one of the most biologically diverse areas in the world, enveloping everything from steppes to swamps, lava plains, savannas and dense high-altitude forests.

luxury volunteer vacation rwanda

Bisate Lodge, adjacent to Volcanoes National Park, combines the bucket-list gorilla trek with a pioneering vision of reforestation and community partnership.

Bisate is located in the natural amphitheatre of an eroded volcanic cone, with dramatic views of the peaks of the Bisoke and Karisimbi volcanoes rearing up through Afro-alpine forests. . Encountering one of the gorilla groups in the nearby Volcanoes National Park is a unique experience.

Six opulent en-suite forest villas maximize comfort and views while adhering to environmentally responsible principles and reflecting the rich culture of rural Rwanda. Bisate is within easy driving distance of the Park Headquarters, from where gorilla treks depart daily. Walks on Bisate’s property offer birding and participation in the reforestation program.

luxury family volunteer vacation rwanda

Akagera National Park is one of Africa’s great wildlife success stories, and complements the gorilla treks, and Magashi Camp is situated in the productive and phenomenally diverse north-eastern corner of Akagera National Park, overlooking beautiful Lake Rwanyakazinga. Akagera comprises some of the most scenic savannah in East Africa – open plains, woodlands, lakes, swamp, and grassy low mountains – and is home to one of Africa’s highest hippo densities, some very large crocodiles as well as well as the rare sitatunga and more than 520 bird species.

Teeming with plains game, Akagera now also boasts a healthy population of lion, which were reintroduced into the park in 2015 after a 20-year absence, as well as black rhino which were reintroduced in 2017. Magashi – the only exclusive-use area in Akagera – also harbors a good density of leopard.

Six spacious and airy tents offer uninterrupted views over Lake Rwanyakazinga, while Magashi’s main area comprises a luxurious lounge, dining and bar area, pool, and expansive viewing deck with a convivial fire pit. The architecture and interiors pay homage to traditional Rwandan culture.

Making a difference in Rwanda and Bhutan whilst staying at these amazing properties

You can make a difference in Rwanda by teaching English to young girls from difficult backgrounds who are eager to learn and improve their chances of finding gainful employment.

You can make a difference in Bhutan by renovating homes of low-income villagers in rural parts of Bhutan.

So you can stay at these incredible new properties whilst making a lasting difference and leaving a legacy – explore these enchanting destinations, encountering Mountain Gorillas, Golden Monkeys and Chimpanzees in Rwanda (plus enjoy the hippos, crocs, lions and birdlife of Akagera National Park).

Feeling inspired to make a difference in Rwanda or Bhutan?

Then get in touch with one of our consultants, all of whom are well versed in advising on the best  volunteering project for you and your family.

If you’re not quite ready for that, why not download our 2019 Family Travel Brochure  or get your Top 10 tips to Making Luxury Family Travel Meaningful.

Or just explore more on our site.

PS interested in meaningful school group travel? Visit our sister company, Hands Up School Trips.

PPS interested in engaging and retaining key employees? Visit our sister company, Hands Up Incentives.

PPPS interested in luxury philanthropic travel? Then check out our new company, Impact Destinations where your philanthropic donation unlocks a unique encounter.

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