Sabyinyo has been extremely busy welcoming guests from all corners of the world who come to see the incredible mountain gorilla as well as Rwanda’s remarkable culture, traditions and way of life. Our lodge provides the setting for a unique and exciting tourism experience – where visitors can visit both an endangered species in its natural habitat, as well as learn about all the conservation work and the benefits of a community partnership, first hand.
Rwanda’s vibrant culture can be experienced through our guided community walks – photo credit Will Fortescue
Our clients are heading up the slopes of the Virunga Volcanoes daily, in order to spend a precious hour with the gorillas – this is definitely the highlight of the trek but there’s also great birdlife, forest animals and a dazzling variety of butterflies too! The birdlife in Volcanoes National Park is great year-round with about 180 species recorded, but due to the slopes being almost permanently shrouded in mist – the best (and easiest) time for birding is between June to August which is known as our ‘dry season’.
Volcanoes National Park offers great birding – photo credit Alisa Bowen
The climb can be slightly more adventurous than some people expect – slippery paths, rain, mist and dense bush can all be a little tiring, but the time spent in the company of these very special primates is an unforgettable experience that some can only dream of. One of our recent guests at Sabyinyo summed it up perfectly with “My heart is full and my eyes amazed by these majestic creatures. Both Matt and I have never been in a space or place like this before and words are unable to describe the hours trekking and moments spent watching the Silverback, mothers and baby gorillas. We had a different plan in place for tomorrow but made some last minute changes in order to do another trek before leaving”.
Playful babies – photo credit Will Fortescue
Our ongoing support to the local surrounding community is vital to ensuring the survival of the gorillas. While at Sabyinyo, guests can find out more about our long-term partnership with local community trust SACOLA, which uses rentals and community fees generated by the lodge, to drive socio-economic and conservation initiatives in the communities adjacent to Volcanoes National Park. We were delighted to welcome the father and siblings of one of our previous guests, Tiffany Hawes, who came to visit the Nyirarudodo family and see the house she very kindly donated them earlier this year.
Tiffany Hawes’ family with Leonard (from Sabyinyo) outside the house she donated – photo credit Barbara Napoli Sehmi
Happy home-owners, the Nyirarudodo family outside their new house – photo credit Will Fortescue
We also assisted on behalf of another group of generous donors – a group of six ladies who were all longterm friends, and who we had had the pleasure of hosting at Sabyinyo. While with us at the lodge, they had heard about the great work of SACOLA and were eager to participate in the ‘one cow per family’ donation program, and just two weeks later, one of them – Ginny Othwein – came back to visit for a second time with another close friend. On her second visit, Ginny very generously presented a family with the gift of a cow, which was promptly named ‘Budweiser’ after the well known brewery company in their home state in the US! When a cow is donated to a specific family, the idea is that the next born female calf will be passed on to another needy family. We would like to thank Ginny, Kathy, Alison, Jane, Nell and Kim for helping our community neighbours by giving a gift that ‘keeps on giving’.
Ginny with grateful receivers of the cow donation – photo credit Barbara Napoli Sehmi
In other news, we recently welcomed chef Martin Simcock into our kitchen to train and inspire our chefs with a diverse range of delicious meals. The food at Sabyinyo is renowned for being top class – hearty, creative and flavourful – paired with an excellent selection of wines and divine Rwandan coffee.
Chef Martin Simcock and kitchen staff at Sabyinyo – photo credit Barbara Napoli Sehmi
Outstanding food at Sabyinyo – photo credit Will Fortescue
The 4th of July was enjoyed with celebrations in the nature garden – a very serene and stunning space teeming with birdlife and a variety of flowers, tucked away behind the main lodge building. As an added bonus for our guests, we invited Veronica Vecellio from the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund who came to speak about protecting gorillas, studying how they live and how helping communities, ultimately saves gorillas. It was a very interesting and inspiring talk, which was followed by traditional SACOLA dancers who performed beautifully with full-on enactment of song and dance.
4th July celebration at Sabyinyo – photo credit Barbara Napoli Sehmi
By Jessica Savage, Governors’ Camp Collection.