Visit to the wetlands – Rugazi

On our last afternoon in Byumba, Meg took us to one of her favourite spots, to the wetlands about 20mins from home. We drove round a bend in the round and she spoke with excited expectation….wait for the view…wait for the view!

Given the context that we are driving through the most beautiful lush green mountain views you ever saw, looking at terrace after terrace of crops and banana plantations, the view wasn’t bad! But we rounded the corner and there was the lake, stretching as far as the eye could see….as calm as a “millpond”, with purple lilys and lily-pads, with birds everywhere!

Yes, this was beautiful! And it is Megs retirement plan! She has bought a piece of the hill that looks over the valley one way and the lake the other way to build and eco-lodge hotel. It will bring tourism to the area and much needed employment in one of the most deprived rural parts of the area.

The children all crowded round us as always, fascinated by the “muzunga” who were visiting. rather like being a celebrity, they clap and cheer, follow us and watch our every move. We scrambled up the hillside, walking through the imaginary building “here will be the restaurant, here will be the en-suite bedrooms….” while the crowds chtterred behind us.

We then headed off to walk around the first part of the lake. The crowds dispersed – not so interesting going for a walk! And we followed the path round the lake spotting an extraordinary number of birds : pelican, yellow billed ducks, african jacana, long toed lapwing, stonechat, red bishop, brubru, egret.

A short crisis of Finn being bee-stung, but averted by fruit pastilles (thanks Jan, still going!). and as we rounded another corner, we meet up with a canoe who will paddle us back to where we started. Another view of more birds. The jacana are wonderful, like big coots, running across the lily pads. Have you ever seen a pelican stretch? Their heads go right back to stretch their necks, reaching right back and then flapping their throats, wonderful! As we neared shore, the light was fading so then we saw the flock of black crowned night herons coming in to land! A wonderful sight!

We drove back the long way (not so great on the bumpy road quota) but we rose up above the mountainside and looked back on the whole of the wetlands, an extraordinary sight with flat bottomed valley including the lake, with perfect conical mountains protruding out of the flat. Really wonderful.

Thanks for sharing it Meg, we look forward to staying!!!

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