Each month we have the pleasure of welcoming Veronica Vecellio, MSc, Senior Advisor & Regional PR Director from Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, up to the lodge to speak to guests about their critical conservation work. It has become a regular and much-appreciated event for our guests with fascinating facts to be learnt of a highly threatened species. On the 9th January we hosted Veronica and visitors in our comfortable lounge area for another informal evening of gorilla talk. The celebrated news that Mountain Gorilla numbers are slowly on the rise is a real testament to the level of conservation action that is taking place and the necessity of its continuation.
Mountain Gorilla numbers are slowly on the rise – photo credit Will Fortescue
A few of our January guests who had some extra time after their gorilla trek, took a morning to head off to the Twin Lakes, Burera and Ruhondo, which are about an hour’s drive from the lodge. They can be reached by driving on good tarmac roads south to Musanze and then back north towards Cyanika, or alternatively along a picturesque small dirt road that follows the contour of the Virunga Volcanoes Range.
A scenic drive to the Twin Lakes – photo credit Will Fortescue
It is an incredibly beautiful area, with steep and intensively farmed hills surrounding the pristine dark blue waters. The hills themselves offer magnificent views over the whole of the Virunga range of volcanoes – weather permitting of course! There are some great walking and birdwatching opportunities here, but due to the very steep character of the landscape, most visitors prefer to drive up the small track leading to a lodge situated at the top, which overlooks both lakes – the perfect spot to enjoy the views and a refreshing drink.
A beautiful view of Rwanda’s Twin Lakes – photo credit Will Fortescue
At Lake Ruhondo, visitors can hire a boat for a scenic lake cruise – this is a good opportunity to spot many water birds such as herons, kingfishers, cormorants, darters, hammerkops, stalks and cranes. A pair of binoculars and a bird book is handy!
Boat trip on Lake Ruhondo – photo credit Will Fortescue
As usual we were very busy over the festive period and instead of a staff Christmas party, they bravely opted to do the much talked about canopy walk in Nyungwe Forest National Park. Nearly a seven-hour drive from the lodge, we finally arrived at the forest, which is the largest protected mountain forest in Africa and is the natural habitat to 13 different primate species such as golden monkeys, colobus monkeys and chimpanzees.
Sabyinyo staff braving the canopy walk at Nyungwe Forest National Park –
– photo credit Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge
The canopy walk is 90 meters long and suspended 50 meters above ground – a dizzying height to all our members off staff – and quite the setting for a team building activity we quickly realised! It was a long and fun-filled day exploring the forest, with monkeys jumping from tree to tree and birds flying both above and below us.
Back at the lodge, we have also used some of the quieter moments in January to replant our vegetable garden, which is increasingly providing us with fresh, organic herbs and all the necessary greens for our delicious meals.