At the height of the dry season, July brought hot days and pleasantly cool nights. As always at this time of year, the water levels of Lake Rwanyakazinga are rising, adding a kind of “Maldives flair” to our guests’ stays, as they could enjoy the elevated feeling of residing in a stilt house surrounded by water. Which other safari lodge in Rwanda could offer something like this?
Dry season is also the time of controlled burns, which are an important tool for maintaining the health and safety of an isolated savannah area, such as Akagera National Park. The dust in the air, combined with the haze of the distant planned bushfires, bestowed the most spectacular sunset scenarios upon us, and on certain evenings Lake Rwanyakazinga radiated a glow of such intensity it was easy to believe we were in an unreal wonderland.
The return of the elephants, two baby leopards, new lions and a very special bird
While during the previous months we had wonderful sightings of bull elephants in the area, we now experienced the return of the herds. Elephant families were seen drinking and bathing right in front of Wilderness Magashi, and our guests and their guides spent hours amongst these great pachyderms, soaking up their calm energy and quietly enjoying the play and funny antics of the little ones.
Guide Alphonse seems to have a special connection to the youngest inhabitants of the bush, and is fondly nicknamed “The Baby Whisperer”. He happened to be the lucky one who first came across certain baby animals unusually often in the last weeks. So it was almost no surprise that it was Alphonse who excitedly reported the sighting of a leopardess with two small cubs! What a touching sight, and we are all looking forward to seeing the two little rascals thrive and grow into majestic Magashi leopards.
Speaking of cats: Magashi guests were spoilt with extensive lion sightings. But in addition to the big pride which has paid visits to the area, and the charismatic Amahoro with her sub-adult cubs, we now had some beautiful strangers appearing on the Magashi “catwalk”. Two magnificent new male lions in their prime, sticking around Magashi. We do not know for sure yet who they are, but it seems a “Game of Thrones” might have begun, as they might be a completely new coalition, split off from a bigger group of male lions in the south of the park and maybe claiming Magashi as their new territory.
Last but not least, guide Venuste and his guests hold an unbelievable record of three different sightings of a pennant-winged nightjar on the same night – what a treat for every bird enthusiast!
Wilderness & CITW community projects
Akayange Primary School sees out the school year in style
Friday the 7th of July was a special day at Akayange Primary School, situated just outside of Akagera National Park where Wilderness Magashi is situated.
The school director and the parents’ committee organised an event to celebrate the end of the school year, and to give the P6 students (the final year of primary school in Rwanda) a farewell, as they will continue to different secondary schools in the new school year.
All 441 learners at the school celebrated their successes over the past school year.
The various classes presented their talents to a delighted audience made up of fellow students, teachers, parents, Children in the Wilderness (CITW) invitees and representatives from the community.
In between the acts – comprising singing, dancing, arts and sports – a number of speeches were made too. In the speeches from the Head Master, the parents’ committee and the Director, special thanks and recognition were offered to CITW for the impact the programme has had at the school to date. The CITW team even received a beautiful thank-you gift from the teachers and the students!
CITW partnered with Akayange Primary School in 2019 and since that moment, weekly environmental lessons have taken place for the two Eco-Clubs – the Rhinos and the Giraffes – which have 60 members in total. Besides the weekly lessons, the school has received support from CITW in the form of a solar water borehole, water tanks, classroom repairs, school supplies, solar panels and many other necessities.
All the support has been made possible by donations from guests visiting Wilderness Magashi.
Sixteen Akayange students have also received a CITW scholarship that is valid for their six years of secondary study. These students are continuing their school careers at Rwabiharamba Secondary School in the area. Additional scholarships will be awarded in the new 2023-2024 school year which will start in September.
It was a lovely day to celebrate the achievements of the learners, and as CITW, we are very proud to be part of Akayange Primary School!
We fell in love with this place and the people are what makes it special. Truly a “magical” place and we will be back.
C.+L.+F. Switzerland + Germany
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