There’s been a lot of excited talk about our new Rwanda property, Magashi… Ingrid Baas, General Manager Rwanda, and Rob Baas, Operations Manager Rwanda, have been working around the clock to make sure we are ready to open our brand new lodge in Akagera National Park later this year.
Here’s an update from Ingrid…
Now that Bisate Lodge is in the very caring and capable hands of management team Jomi and Hadley, Rob and I have had time to focus on Magashi, a new Wilderness Safaris lodge that will be situated in Akagera National Park.
Rob and I moved into an operational role in March this year and we continue to oversee and help at Bisate. We have, however, also been spending a lot of our time overseeing the development of our new lodge – an exciting and time-consuming project.
So, as with the construction of Bisate, we are once again starting from scratch. The next few months will entail procurement of materials, building, conceptualising and developing activities, recruitment and lots of administrative work. Our attitude? “Bring it on!”
Visiting Akagera for the first time
In May we set out for Akagera National Park for the very first time. Although we have been living in Rwanda for just over a year and a half, we have spent most of our time at Bisate in the west of the country. As a result, we have had very little time to explore the east.
Scouting the area meant that we would have to spend as much time as possible in the Magashi area. The only way to explore here (with easy access) was to bring along our own small camping tents.
Our first impressions of Akagera surprised us. I was expecting the area to be beautiful, but it far surpassed my expectations. The many water sources and low mountain ranges certainly add to the magnificence of the area.
In just two short game drives we saw a huge diversity of game: Defassa waterbuck, eland, zebra, impala, buffalo, hippo, Masai giraffe, warthog, hyaena, topi, elephant and much more. Akagera is a birder’s paradise, and with more than 500 bird species recorded, we naturally saw lots of birds too!
During this visit we were joined by Wilderness Safaris COO Grant Woodrow, Wilderness Safaris Project & Development Manager Christo Potgieter, building contractor Phil Hartell and Jes Gruner, Akagera National Park Manager and CEO of Akagera Management Company. Together we mapped out the Magashi site and marked the different structures. We also decided on where we would build our main area, place the guest tents, kitchen, workshop and other areas of the lodge build.
As with any good adventure, it poured with rain and we were completely drenched as we walked around. In Rwanda, people believe that rain is a blessing… Magashi has definitely been blessed!
Next steps: Water, electricity and storage
How can you start building a lodge without water, electricity and storage for building supplies? Starting with water, Rob spent many long hours with the drilling company. We needed to find out where to drill and where the water quality would be most efficient. This took a bit of time but in the end we found water. There is now fresh ground water available to fill up our tanks.
In keeping with the ‘Wilderness Way’ and our commitment to building our camps and lodges with a light footprint, we have opted to run Magashi on solar energy. To make this possible solar panels need to be put in place with provision for cables.
We also needed to create sufficient storage for all our building and lodge supplies. A few weeks ago our shipping containers arrived on site – this means our trucks can now start bringing in supplies.
We have had some practice with recruiting staff for our Bisate build in 2017. Because of this, we knew that once you start sending out your recruitment application forms, hundreds of responses will be sent back in return! Within a few weeks of announcing the opportunity, we had over 2 000 applications. We’ve since spent many hours reading CVs and going through countless certificates!
We’ve started the recruitment early to allow our new employees sufficient time for training. The first seven Magashi employees are already working and training at Bisate.
We are now in the final stages of employing management teams and guides. The teams will play a vital role in the guest experience at Magashi. We will provide more information in our next update!
With such a beautiful and diverse landscape we are able to offer many different activities for our guests, including game drives, boating safaris, walking, birding and much more! We want our guests to not only experience the diversity of Akagera, but also enjoy meeting the beautiful people of Rwanda and learn about the country’s history.
We have had a fantastic time brainstorming and are now looking forward to discovering what Magashi is all about...
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.