By John O’Ceallaigh
The pandemic may have paused activities temporarily, but with an end of sorts apparently in sight, Rwanda’s rapid ascent as a luxury-travel destination has resumed. Following the relatively recent emergence of high-end lodges from the likes of Singita and One&Only, its latest launch is “the floating luxury hotel” Mantis Kivu Queen uBuranga.
A new addition to African hotel group Mantis, the 10-cabin vessel sleeps up to 20 passengers and will be the first touring motor boat to sail Lake Kivu. That body of water may not be well known to many international travellers, but it’s impressive: one of East Africa’s great lakes and bordering Congo, it stands almost 1.5km above sea level and is 90km long and 30km wide. Uninhabited and inhabited islands populate its interior; towns and villages line its banks.
Guests will explore these surroundings on two-night, three-day itineraries, with immersive experiences on offer including visits to local tea estates and cultural engagements with local communities. One of the most dramatic stops is likely to be at the waterfront town of Rubavu, where the active Nyiragongo volcano touches the water.
Commencing at the end of the year, those three-day itineraries will cost $990 (£710) per person (based on double occupancy) and will include all meals and selected drinks, as well as scheduled tours and activities, and water sports. The vessel will be available for private charter from February 2022. In addition to their choice of accommodation from its six luxury cabins, two deluxe cabins, one VIP cabin and one presidential cabin, those on board will also have full use of its spa and splash pool. A restaurant and bar on the middle deck will offer expansive views of the surrounding waterscape.
Describing itself as “a leading conservation-focused hotel group”, Mantis also claims that Mantis Kivu Queen uBuranga will “place as little pressure on the environment as possible”. It will be solar powered and is installed with technologically advanced waste-management and heating systems. Nature-loving guests who want to admire more of Rwanda’s beauty are advised to plan pre- or post-sail trips to see silverback gorillas in their natural habitat at Volcanoes National Park (with permits costing $1,500 per person per day). Alternatively, they can trek the Nyungwe Forest in search of chimpanzees or join a safari at Akagera National Park.
Furthermore, for Mantis fans, Mantis Kivu Queen uBuranga isn’t the only new addition to the company’s portfolio this year. In September, Mantis’s mobile Siringit Migration Camp will launch in Tanzania, roving a route that will allow its guests to witness the best of the Great Migration.