Bisate Lodge – April 2018
Climate and Landscape
April is generally the month of the year that receives the most rainfall in Volcanoes National Park. We experienced days of incredibly dense fog this month, though the rainfall appeared to be slightly less than in other years.
April was a very interesting month for several reasons…
Reforestation and Nursery
We were extremely busy with our reforestation project this month as the heavy rainfall gave us the ideal opportunity to plant saplings on the property. With the help of members of the local community, Jean-Moise, our agronomist, managed to plant a further 1 500 trees on the property. Along with his previous reforestation efforts, a total of 20 000 saplings have been planted on our property to date. To add to this, we have continued to purchase saplings from the local community for our new nursery, which now has around 10 000 saplings. These are all indigenous to Rwanda and are either hagenia, dombeya, neuboutonia or hypericum, and most will probably be large enough to be planted during the next wet season.
Our camera traps have seen a decent amount of action again this month. We recorded serval walking up the steps behind the lodge twice; they make very regular visits past one of our other cameras close to the crater on the nature trail. We have yet to identify the individuals by their spot patterns but have an inkling that there might be more than one individual traversing the property. We have captured some stunning footage of side-striped jackal yet again, including a picture with two adults in one shot, and a short video of an individual hunting what looks like a scrub hare.
One of the most exciting sightings this month was not of a mammal but of an amphibian. The frog pictured here could be either a Kivu tree frog or a Karisimbi tree frog. The latter would be very exciting as this is a species endemic to this area but the only way to tell the difference is by the colour of the gular sack whilst the animal is calling, something we were unfortunately not able to witness.
April is also a month where quite a large number of avian migrants move along the Albertine Rift on their way elsewhere; this meant a couple of new species for our bird list. European bee-eaters were seen and heard frequently for about a week towards the end of the month, while what we think was a Steppe buzzard was seen on the camera trap. A pair of yellow wagtails was recorded in the cultivated field alongside our entrance road. A single white-eyed slaty flycatcher was seen and photographed by a guest at the start of the month.
Along with this, golden-breasted bunting, common bulbul and African goshawk seem to be residents on the property, with several accounts of each species.
Many of our guests planning gorilla treks were happy that the rain only arrived in the afternoons, meaning that the morning air was very clear and great for photographic opportunities!
Manager Hadley had the opportunity to climb the Bisoke volcano, a trek that at this time of year is quite tricky due to the muddy and very slippery pathways. Bisoke, of course, is the centrepiece of the view from Bisate, and arguably the most popular volcano to climb in the park due to the fact that it has a crater lake at the top. At 3 700 metres, summiting it is by no means easy. Here are some of the photos that Hadley took on the trek, and as you can see, it was quite the adventure!
As mentioned in the previous newsletter, Children in the Wilderness is now in full swing at Bisate Primary School. A group of enthusiastic teachers has been running Eco-Club classes each Friday, with regular visits and input from our Activities Coordinator and Guide, Aline, as well as general manager Ingrid and several of the CITW Eco-Mentors who are part of the Bisate staff. At least 30 children attend Eco-Clubs each week and it will be great to see the positive impact the programme has in the near future!
We once again received various generous donations from current and previous guests, and Aline has been busy sorting through all of the items which include mostly clothing and stationary. With the help of the Cooperative in the local community, she has been distributing the donations to those most in need.
Chef and Masseuse Training
This month, we had lots of in-house training. We were very lucky to have Chef Trainers Freedom and Linda join us for more than a week in April to carry out thorough and intensive training with our chefs. The dishes that were served, and have been served since, put a smile not only on the faces of the guests, but also on the chefs who served them!
We were also fortunate to have masseuse trainer Kgabiso join us at Bisate Lodge for a week of massage training. Head Masseuse Orlane and various trainee masseuses bonded extremely well with Kgabiso during the week, whilst their deep tissue and African Intonga Amasatchi massage techniques were perfected.
A big, big thanks to Kgabiso, Freedom and Linda for joining us here at Bisate and for helping us out. Our teams have been truly motivated and inspired by you!