The Lodge News
February has brought some more rain to our little corner of Northern Rwanda, with showers every-other-day and a few rain showers in the afternoons, which is quite different to last February which was much warmer and much less rain. The weather has changed to give us mostly hazy mornings that often continue on throughout the day whilst clouds gently blanket the 3 volcanoâs most mornings lifting in the evenings to allow us to see them in all their magnificence. Average temperatures drop to around 7-10Â°C at night, then rise to hang around 18Â°C during the day, meaning pleasant mornings treks for all hikers.
The improvements to the lodge are continuing to shine with many repeat clients coming back and in awe of the recent upgraded refurbishment by White Elephant Trading. We have been kept busy with a series of the bigger groups who arrived in private charters from all over the world but are all equally entranced by their time with the Gorillas as they were with their time in this wonderful country Rwanda.
The reforestation project and seedling nursery
Our exciting reforestation project is well under way. A few years ago we purchased an additional 5.8 hectares of land bordering the lodge and the Volcanos National Park, with the idea in mind to completely reforest the land right up from the lodge to the park border. We are continuing to bring more and more types of indigenous trees into the nursery. So far we have the following plants in our tree nursery.
1,050 Pycostachys, 1,136 Neptunia macrocalyx, 50 Phoenix Reclinata, 75 Hagenia abyssinica and 561 Fig trees. We have also identified the Erythrina abyssinica which will be planted next month.
On the new land we are also growing our own seedlings which we will move from there to the tree nursery once they are bigger.
We are expecting to plant
*Alnus – 15,000 .
*Cedrela – 10,000 plants.
*Calliandra – 10,000 plants.
*Leucaena – 15,000 plants.
*Cypress – wood trees for the locals – 10,000
We also hope to propagate and grow a total of 15,000 indigenous tree seedlings to distribute to all our neighbours to help reforest their lands adjacent to the park.
Community – A Gift of Light.
Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge was built 10 years ago as a uniquely community-owned lodge next to Volcanoes National Park. With our partners African Wildlife Fund (AWF) and International Gorilla Conservation Program (IGCP), the SACOLA Community Trust was created to hold ownership of the lodge. Through lease fees and a Community Levy incorporated into a guestâs stay, US$3.1 Million has been transferred from the Lodge to the SACOLA community in the last 10 years, providing them the means to achieve an incredible list of socio-economic projects. Our guests are so often impressed by positive impact of this beautiful relationship between tourism, community and conservation, they are inspired to make their own impact. Margot Raggett was one such guest, and took it upon herself to fundraise Â£4000 to purchase solar lights for the community in December last year. This week, we visited 2 of the SACOLA community schools to distribute 400 lights to students at each school. The school heads determined that the students who were completing their national examinations this year should be the ones to receive a solar light, so that they are able to study at night. Another 76 lights were distributed to a community village that many guests will know from doing a walking visit there.
Gorillas â Thank you Marianne for this lovely encounter of your trek this month.
The big day for our Gorilla Trek had finally arrived. At 5.30am we were woken up by our amazing room steward Felicien with a big pot of coffee to help us get out of bed. Down we went to the main lodge get fitted up with Gators (a must take) backpacks, snack packs and all necessities for the trek. After a delicious breakfast we left the lodge at 6.30am and headed down to HQ for the 7am registration. There are a total of 80 gorilla permits available each day with a maximum of eight trekkers visiting any one group we were lucky that we happened to only have two others in our group so we were excited to be in for a very private viewing. Once the trekkers are put into groups, each groupâs Lead Guide briefs the trekkers on the âdoâs and donâtsâ and also on Gorilla gestures and sounds to make. We all had a good giggle as we practiced the noises to make while you are in the presence of the Gorillas. After the briefing we all jumped back in our cars to drive to the starting point where we all set out up the mountains. The first hour of the trek was outside the park and was relatively easy walking. Then we headed into the forest which was a little harder but not as bad as we had anticipated. Next we had to endure a fairly steep climb however it was well worth it just as I was starting to consider asking for a short break there they were right in front of us. The Amahoro group led by the calm and easy going Ubumwe, Amahoro is made up of 17 members and means âpeacefulâ. We spent one hour with the Gorillas and every moment was just the most precious experience. Watching them all play and interact with eachother was just so specila. Ubumwe sat to one site and spent most of the time in a budda postion just keeping a close eye on all the family members and every now and the giving off a few grunts to put them back in his place. A few of the very young ones came were twizzling away on a vine the whole chest-beating which hands down is the most adorable thing I have ever seen.
After the hour we said good bye and all I could think was thank god we bought that second trek for tomorrow to spend more time with these amazing creatures.
Jessica Mousley, Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge relief manager.