The days are passing quickly for our team in Rwanda and since our update in March they have ticked off many projects on their list. The team has managed to get through so much that as Rob, General Manager at Bisate Lodge, says, “It feels like we have had two months in one!”
Rob and Ingrid have been managing a variety of projects from training, to lodge building, setting up administration for the lodge and developing activities…
“Bisate has been a fantastic project so far and we really feel that we are moving in the right direction. We get a lot of our energy from the enthusiasm of the local Rwandan people and this amazing culture,” says Ingrid.
Bon Voyage – Training in Zambia and Botswana
Last month we reported that six of our new Bisate employees would be jetting across the continent to take part in a four-week training programme at Wilderness Safaris camps in Zambia and Botswana. Anitha (Deputy Manager at Bisate), Aline (Guide) and Benjamin (our F&B Manager) left for training on the 17th March while Orlane (Masseuse), Jean Marie (Chef) and Claude (Chef) followed on the 3rd April. The staff are being hosted at Toka Leya inZambia, and at Vumbura Plains, Kings Pool, Savuti and Abu Camp in Botswana. For most of our staff, this is the first time that they have travelled to southern Africa and for others it is the first time that they have left Rwandan soil. You can imagine how excited they were to get on the plane to start this journey of a lifetime!
Departure Team Number Two!
This opportunity will allow our staff to return with a better understanding of the high standard of service that we know as the ‘Wilderness Way’. The six fortunate travellers will share their learnings with the rest of the Bisate team who are all eager to learn more! Thank you to all our Wilderness colleagues who have made this educational journey possible.
Aline and Anitha at Abu Camp
We are thoroughly impressed with how well the community has responded to the training classes. All students in the beginner’s class are now comfortable in greeting and introducing themselves in English. Our advanced learners are able to interact in simple conversations. English classes will continue into the coming months, even after the lodge has opened in June. Innocent, our English teacher at the lodge, has also offered to help us with lessons in Kinyarwanda. We are hoping to start these classes soon!
The Bisate Team
In total, 17 of our employees will attend a 14-day training workshop hosted at Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge, owned by our partners Governors ’. We are very grateful that Governors’ is giving us this opportunity, so a big thank you to all the Sabyinyo staff involved in making this happen. The first group of trainees started this week and are thoroughly enjoying it.
Getting ready to train at Sabyinyo
Most of the training will be run with us at Bisate in our brand-new training centre. We will be spending a lot of time in the centre, especially in the next two months.
The building of the lodge and the staff village has made great progress over the last month. Not only are we able to start visualising the end result of the construction phase, the biggest milestone is that we will be able to move into the staff village this weekend! We are very excited to move permanently to Bisate.
Forest Villa 2
We are currently finalising the last bits and pieces to enable the big move for the entire lodge team. Our furniture, manufactured by a local carpenter cooperation, is in place along with our curtains that have been made by local seamstress.
This should all come together in the next week!
Ingrid and the local seamstress
View from Bisate's Forest Villas
Jean Moise , Bisate’s agronomist, did not sit still this month, as he actually never does. Our aim was to plant as many trees as possible to make sure the indigenous trees had a good start with the rains in March and April. According to Jean, the total number of planted trees is now 13,786, a total of 1,200 more since our last update.
It is amazing to see how fast the trees grow in the rich volcanic soil. The trees planted a year ago are now much bigger than the agronomist himself!
Meet Benjamin – Bisate’s F&B Manager
Benjamin at Toka Leya
With more than 18 years of experience in the hospitality industry in Rwanda, Benjamin Nskekuye is one of the most experienced employees at Bisate. Benjamin has a background as a chef but has worked in F&B management for the last few years. During his career he was employed by Hotel Mille Colline (of Hotel Rwanda fame) where he worked for 10 years. He is now very involved in training the service staff at Bisate in his role as F&B Manager. He’s of the opinion that he will never stop learning and is always looking for new and exciting challenges. Benjamin is currently finishing his training at Toka Leya Camp in Zambia and will move to Kings Pool in Botswana for the final leg of his journey. He plans to share his new-found knowledge with us all on his return to the lodge.
The service at Bisate will be exceptional and we are confident that with help of Benjamin we will achieve this and bring a new level of service to Rwanda’s hospitality industry.
Bisate’s Cuisine and Exploring Rwanda
Bisate’s cuisine is a creative combination of local Rwandan flavours infused with contemporary cuisine. One of our personal favourite Rwandan dishes is fish with banana leaves or Liboke de Poisson. Fresh tilapia fillet is marinated with fresh herbs and spices, and accompanied by tomato and vegetable relish – steamed and cooked in banana leaves. It looks fantastic and taste even better!
Besides trying out the Rwandan kitchen we also had some time this month to explore Rwanda a bit more and experience what this beautiful country has to offer. The “Land of a Thousand Hills” turns out to be the “Land of Far More than a Thousand Hills”. What beautiful scenery to drive through! During this past month we had a quick visit to Rubavu (Gisenye) and Karongi (Kibuye), the two main tourist towns on Lake Kivu. On another Sunday we made sure to visit Nyungwe National Park – on our very first chimpanzee trek! We were extremely lucky as we had such good sightings of the chimps. Not only were they very relaxed and totally checking us out from above us in the trees, they even decided to follow us for a short while on our hike back to our vehicle!
Chimp trekking in Nyungwe National Park
As if all these experiences were not enough we experienced some glamour this month as well! We were invited to the red carpet premiere of the National Geographic documentary Return of the Lions. A documentary about the reintroduction of lions to Akagera National Park in Rwanda. See our stylish red-carpet look!
Ingrid and Rob at the premiere of the National Geographic documentary Return of the Lions
During April we will move to Bisate with the complete Bisate team. The first period will be used to settle in and feel at home. We will also start our training courses in order to focus more on the community projects that we are planning. We have engaged with some community leaders who are willing to help us set up a few projects in the areas surrounding the lodge.
Last but not least we are hoping to go on our first gorilla trek! We need to explore Volcanoes National Park and cannot wait to enjoy this bucket list experience.