We started the month with the official opening of Bisate Lodge on the 1st of September. His Excellency President Paul Kagame honoured us with a visit and cut a symbolic bamboo twine (symbolising reforestation). After planting a hagenia tree at the entrance to the lodge he declared Bisate officially open!
Climate and Landscape
During most afternoons in September we experienced some rain, turning the surroundings beautifully green, while all the trees that have been planted by our guests and our agronomist, Jean Moise, are starting to develop new shoots. The seeds of the grasses surrounding the pathways and the villas attract many birds, especially yellow-bellied waxbills and black-headed waxbills.
The temperature varied from a chilly 10° Celsius to a pleasant 25° C.
Reforestation and Conservation
Bisate's reforestation and rehabilitation project is powering full-steam ahead. And as the trees have grown, so has the diversity of creatures recolonising our site. We have now recorded nearly 50 bird species, 12 mammal species, 14 butterflies, a reptile and an amphibian.
Thousands of people came together at the 13th Kwita Izina (gorilla naming) ceremony to celebrate Rwanda’s success in conserving mountain gorillas. This year, 19 baby gorillas were named, adding very encouragingly to the 239 baby gorillas that have already been named at the past 12 ceremonies.
“Gorilla trekking” is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and for most of our guests it is the highlight of their entire safari. Each gorilla trek is special and unique. On one of the mornings our guests experienced some rain whilst they were trying to locate the group of gorillas. They decided to wait for the rain to pass and found shelter under a big tree. Before they knew it, the gorilla group joined them under the same tree – also taking shelter! Not sure who found whom!
Tailor-made for our guests!
Many guests compliment us on our uniforms with their different designs made from colourful Rwandan kitenge fabrics. One of our guests mentioned he loved them so much that he would like to have a job at Bisate. We asked our tailor and seamstress – Joseph and Maria, who we have mentioned in a blog post – to make him a shirt as a special surprise. He could not believe his eyes and proudly wore his shirt that evening. Since that time Joseph and Maria have been busy making more shirts, serviettes and handbags on special order!
Our guests have the opportunity to visit the surrounding community whilst staying at Bisate Lodge. Our neighbours are so friendly and welcoming that most guests are very touched and for many, the community visit is regarded as a highlight of their stay in Rwanda. Often our Bisate guests donate some of their possessions to the Bisate community; some even bring extra items especially for that reason. In September, Aline sorted out all the different items (shoes, jackets, stationery, other clothing etc.) and worked together with Jean D’Amour Sebasoni from the Socio-Economic Development Department and three different headmen from the village. They decided up front who would receive what item, with school-going children receiving the stationery, the gaiters going to trackers and rangers in the village, and other clothing going to the poorest families. A record was kept in order to know for next time who received what. When Aline and Rob handed out the items everyone was extremely happy!
Bisate Team – Always Smile!
We are super proud of the Bisate team! With the leadership of Claude and Orlane, the Bisate team started a fund called "Always Smile". Twice a month the team contributes roughly USD2 from their gratuity and their salary. Together they aim to help each other and the local community members!
Besides giving each other support on special occasions like a wedding, birth of a child or a funeral, the fund is intended to support local community members to obtain health care and health insurance.
“What a delight to stay with you at your lovely lodge with its beautiful scenery and superb hospitality. The wonderful design of the lodge and the way it integrates into this area is among its many special features.”
“The most unbelievable experience! The lodge is absolutely beautiful and all of the staff are awesome. We loved the fires in the rooms, the food was delicious and the wine flowed. Sad to leave this amazing place and people. Thank you!”
“What an absolutely magical place – amazing team, beautiful lodge, beautiful location – the list can just go on and on, but most important are the very special people of Bisate and surrounds that really bring the magic! Thank you so much for taking care of me, you make every person that passes through feel like a member of your family. Well done to you all!”
“This is one of the most amazing lodges in Africa. Everything was perfect – especially the staff and management. I can’t wait to return! All the best!”