December turned out to be the wettest month of the year, with almost daily rainfall and pleasantly cool temperatures. However, this did not stop guests from all over the world spending the festive season at Wilderness Magashi. And oh boy, how greatly they were rewarded! Thanks to the rains and abundance of food, the bush was bristling with life.
Elephant herds roamed the area and on several occasions our guests got “stuck in elephant traffic”, quietly sitting amongst the great pachyderms, taking in their overwhelming presence and all-encompassing energy, while quietly chuckling about nosy youngsters investigating the strange visitors.
A big pride of lions was seen up here in the north of Akagera National Park throughout the month – and, speaking of cats, the leopards at Magashi let themselves be seen on an almost daily basis. On Christmas day we witnessed a leopardess on the lakeshore not too far from camp, patiently teaching her cub the art of catfish hunting.
A couple of days later, guide Innocent and his guests came across a hunting leopardess, and stopped just in time to see her attacking an impala. Initially the impala got away; it was injured but still strong enough to run. This alone was already incredible to witness, and, awestruck by this sighting, Innocent and the guests could not believe their luck. Shortly afterwards they saw the wounded impala again and suddenly, out of nowhere, the leopardess was back. She took down the impala – right next to the safari vehicle!
Magashi rhinos becoming TV stars
Those who know about the Eastern black rhinos of Magashi, will also know that the individuals who have been reintroduced to the area originally hail from Europe, where they were born as part of a breeding programme to save the species from extinction. These rhinos were brought to Magashi in Akagera National Park in 2019 by African Parks, in partnership with the Rwandan government. Here they set foot on African soil for the first time in their lives. The rhinos’ release into the wild was captured by a film crew, which now, four years later, has returned to Magashi to try and find these rhinos again and document their new lives, back in their destined homeland. Thanks to our great guides, and a very gentle and patient approach by everyone involved, the film team was able to get amazing footage of these precious animals living their wild lives completely independently, undisturbed and free. The production of this film, which will be so important for raising awareness for an ancient species on the verge of extinction, is very exciting for all of us and we seriously cannot wait for the release of this documentary.
New Year’s Eve
To end a spectacular year at Magashi as spectacularly as it should be, we surprised our guests with signature New Year’s Eve cocktails, set against the backdrop of a spectacular sunset over Lake Rwanyakazinga.
People of Magashi – Peace’s “bush pharmacy” is open 24/7
Magashi is a very green camp with lush and beautiful vegetation. But would you have known that a lot of the plants we find in camp actually have medicinal purposes?
Many of our staff members hail from this area, where they grew up herding livestock in the bush. Sometimes they had to spend multiple days out in the wild, and when living this lifestyle, it is essential to know what is edible, what is poisonous and what could be used as medicine.
Our lovely Peace is one of the young people who still preserves some of the old knowledge. Here she is explaining to me the use of Umubirizi, a pretty but inconspicuous plant growing next to the swimming pool, and a very potent medicine to cure colic – in cattle and humans alike.
Such a magical place that will forever hold a spot in our hearts! Thank you for an amazing safari, hospitality, staff and stay. Will be back!!!
Sterling + Parker, Los Angeles, USA
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