June has been a wonderfully busy month. We are told by many arriving guests that they were waitlisted for rooms at Sabyinyo, only booking the rest of their African holidays after confirmation of their time at Sabyinyo and with the gorillas.
And the viewings have been incredible, with many close and intimate encounters. One guest had the âprivilegeâ of being âbattedâ around a bit by a 5-year old of the Kwitonda group! His travelling companions very cheerily recounted the tale upon return to the lodge, with the gentleman in question having a very wide grin on his face â magical!
Managers Philip and Charlie have ducked out for some time off back in their native Kenya for a wedding, so I (Chloe) have been looking after the lodge in their absence, and enjoying the pleasure of hosting ecstatic guests, elated after returning from their gorilla interactions.
The other day myself and Javier, one of the newest staff members who hasnât yet trekked, had the absolute privilege of joining guests on a gorilla trek to the Muhoza group. What a fantastic experience!! In the ever evolving and fascinating dynamics of the gorilla groups of the park, the Silverback Muhoza had only the previous night acquired a new female to the group from a neighbouring family. When we found them they were in the midst of a lazy mid-morning doze, having finished âbreakfastâ. Unfortunately they were snuggled up in the bamboo thicket which did test the limits of camera settings for light, but here is Muhoza the silverback after rousing from his slumber. Janvier and I cannot thank our guests enough for providing us this most incredible opportunity. We are both still grinning like idiots!
Itâs not all about the gorillas though, as amazing as they are! We find endless fascinations within the gardens of Sabyinyo, with bountiful colourful creatures enjoying the rich vegetation. Take for instance my friend who Iâve named Crazy Eyes. This is a Rwenzori Side-Striped Chameleon (Triceros rudis) and he currently lives in the bamboo tree at the top of the Sabyinyo stairs, greeting our guests on arrival. Heâs just so excited to see you!
The refurbishment of Sabyinyoâs stairs continues. Those familiar with the walk up to the lodge (the test run for your gorilla hike!) will be pleased with the new attractive stairs being built. Here is the grand new entrance at the carpark.
Inside the lodge, some further soft refurbishments are providing a splash of Rwandan colour to the dÃ©cor. Here is the start of a new look for the dining room in the form of vibrant chair covers.
On June 16th the SACOLA conducted a ceremony of remembrance during which 6 more houses built with funds from Sabyinyo profits were presented to 6 families of genocide survivors. The houses have been constructed with excellent craftsmanship, and finished with plumbing, septic systems and electricity. The interiors were also completed with furnishings from mattresses to furniture and kitchen fittings.
The cost to build these six houses was $45â000, plus another $5000 for interior furniture, mattresses and also food. These houses will provide a family with a secure shelter in which to live – a basic need now met.
During the same ceremony, students from two local schools also donated 19 sheep towards the children of 19 families of genocide survivors.
Weâre looking forward to another busy month in July, with lots more visitors coming to tick the gorillas off their bucket-list.
Chloe Flatt, relief manager Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge