Volcanoes National Park

Wilderness Bisate Newsletter – May 2024

Camp news

Ryan Dewes


What is Rwanda like in May?

The mists of May have gone away and the sunny days of June are here! As we near the halfway mark of the year (I can’t believe it either), we look back on a very busy start to what is considered our “high” season at Wilderness Bisate. With record rainfall, new staff joining our already impressive team, very large numbers of guests visiting Rwanda for the first time, and of course amazing gorilla sightings, May was an extremely positive month for Bisate – and also for Rwanda, cementing its reputation as a very special tourist destination.

With the busy season just on our doorstep, we couldn’t be better positioned to welcome our wonderful guests from around our planet. Our new staff who have joined us are eager to make their unique mark on the Bisate property, and bring their “fresh-eyed and bushy-tailed” personalities to every person who walks through our doors. See you in the next half of the year!

Guest donation and football game on Bisate Helipad

At Bisate, through our association with Pack for a Purpose, we often get guests bringing our community members small gifts of clothing or stationery for management to donate to the local schools. This month we had a very special donation of a whole XL duffel bag of sporting equipment to give out to the children in our local villages. Of course, the “Rwandan Way” is that of love and compassion, but also of fierce rivalry when it comes to their favourite sports teams. This time was no different.


We called our local kids to the Bisate Helipad for what we thought was going to be a simple handover of equipment and then for them to be on their way. What transpired was a series of challenges laid down by different individuals and spontaneous mini football, cricket and rugby matches breaking out on our makeshift “field” – of course to our guests’ great delight! The result was a day of fun that went on for hours! It really is amazing how far a small gesture will go for the people of Rwanda. Thank you to our amazing guests who make these kinds of experiences possible.


It should be noted that having the guests actually interact with the children was very much a one-off, unprompted occasion. More typically, management will consult with the community committee to establish the best distribution to the neediest recipients, and arrange a formal handover that fits in with the relevant party’s schedules.

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Staff wine training

We take great pride at Bisate in the wine and food offering that we showcase to our guests. Of course, with such busy days and plenty to keep us focused on other tasks, we seldom get to appreciate exactly what we actually give our guests. We decided that this was absolutely tragic to say the least, and decided that enough was enough! 


What we did to remedy this tragedy was to gather all our Managers, FOH staff and Chefs together and do a good old-fashioned wine and food tasting extravaganza! The aim of this was first and foremost to have a little bit of fun, and remember exactly why we are in this fantastic industry, but also to acquire a greater appreciation for the finer things in life that we often do not get a chance to sample. 


The Chefs outdid themselves creating some of our most popular dishes, and presented exquisite cheese boards that paired with a few of Bisate’s finest wines on offer. I must admit it was an absolute highlight of my managing year so far to take in the scene of our staff holding up wines to sheets of paper to compare the colours, and contributing highly intellectual remarks on the acidity of a certain South African Chenin Blanc then diving into a bowl of sweet potato gnocchi with pea crème and herb aioli, with a vigour that would make the French aristocracy blush. After each wine was sampled, the staff would then patiently listen to my introduction and notes on the next wine before the cycle would repeat itself. All I can say is that I think we need to make this a quarterly arrangement. What a time to be alive! 

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CITW Rwanda Scholarship Update

The last term of the Rwandan school year is in full swing, and during May our Children in the Wilderness (CITW) Rwanda representatives Aline Umutoni and Jean Damascene Nkuriragenda visited many of our CITW Scholarship Programme students who attend boarding schools all over the country. The scholarship sponsorships cover the full tuition and other expenses for the children’s six years of secondary schooling. 





In Rwanda, secondary school years run from Senior 1 to Senior 6 (or Grade 1 to Grade 6). When in Senior 3, or S3, all students need to sit national exams. The results of these exams determine where the students will continue their remaining S4 to S6 school years. Depending on their exam results and study direction, many of our scholarship students are now placed in different schools in Rwanda. 


This means that our S4, S5 and future S6 CITW students are branching out all over the country, and of course, still flying the CITW flag high.  So, besides the seven schools that Wilderness and CITW have partnered with, we now have students in an additional 34 schools all over the country. We also currently have 71 scholarship students in S4 and S5, who are all visited by Aline and Jean Damascene during the school year!


At Bisate Primary and Secondary schools, our CITW Eco- and YES Club lessons are held every Wednesday afternoon, and are always filled with enthusiasm and laughter. Recently, Aline organised a parent-student meeting at the secondary school for the 112 Bisate scholarship students.



Topics like discipline, respect, school results, teamwork, effective communication and necessary coaching were discussed. All of these will ensure the best possible outcome for all the students.


Besides the above discussion points, Aline and Jean Damascene also established a parents’ committee at the school, after a vote amongst all the parents. The parents’ committee will ensure streamlined lines of communication between our CITW team, the school, the students and the parents.


We wish all the students a successful end to their school year, with the coming month of June being filled with important year-end exams and other closing events.

From top down & bottom up, the service has been attentive, engaged & friendly at a level we have rarely encountered. The lodge is beautiful, but what struck us the most is the positive impact it has had on the local community & its determination (practical not just greenwashing) to improve the local environment. Outstanding!
– A&J

Let’s plan your next journey


When we say we’re there every step of the way, we mean it, literally. From planning the perfect circuit, to private inter-camp transfers on Wilderness Air, and easing you through Customs. We’re with you on the ground, at your side, 24-7, from start to finish. Ready to take the road less travelled? Contact our Travel Designers to plan an unforgettable journey.