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Issue 17
Africa Travel> Issue 17
UPDATED: July 10, 2015
A Wild Investment in Rwanda
Sustainable conservation, tourism and community development
Edited by Jo Kromberg

Rwanda's celebrated wild mountain gorillas are a huge tourist attraction (Courtesy of www.wilderness-safaris.com)

Rwanda, with its incredible biodiversity, is still a relative secret in terms of tourism on the African continent. It offers the adventurous tourist everything possible, from magnificent wildlife to pristine nature, as well as luxury. World-renowned luxury lodge management group Wilderness Safaris recently announced its investment in the construction of two lodges in Rwanda, adding a new country to its African portfolio and aiding in further sustainable conservation economies on the continent.

Rwanda, situated as it is along the Western - or Albertine - Rift, is one of Africa's most biodiverse regions. It is a sanctuary of rainforest endemism and without a doubt its most celebrated wild mammal is the Virunga Massif Mountain gorilla. The country's forests are also home to another of Africa's great apes, the chimpanzee, as well as a multitude of other primates such as the striking golden monkey, a little-known but magnificent inhabitant of the bamboo forest.

Rwanda's celebrated wild mountain gorillas are a huge tourist attraction (Courtesy of www.wilderness-safaris.com)

Responsible ecotourism

"The opportunity to use the Wilderness Safaris model of responsible ecotourism to contribute to positive conservation and community empowerment in such a unique and exciting environment is exactly why we do what we do," said Keith Vincent, group CEO. "More than that, we have found the Rwanda government, ecotourism industry and conservation community to be nothing but welcoming and hospitable in partnering with us to pioneer a new kind of ecotourism in this inspirational country."

Bisate Lodge, a 12-room lodge adjacent to the Volcanoes National Park, will boast breath-taking views of the dormant Bisoke, Karisimbi and Mikeno Volcanoes. A new standard of forest lodge luxury will be set in this area, as well as offering the perfect base for mountain gorilla trekking. In addition, Bisate Lodge will also be a visionary conservation and community project with its first phase focusing on indigenous re-forestation of a core 26-hectare site. This will be done in close partnership with the newly constituted 320-member Tuzamurane Cooperative. The Cooperative is an initiative of the Trickle Out Africa Project and aims to improve the community's lives by aiding in local agriculture. Munyankindi, president of Tuzamurane Cooperative says that pineapple growing is the most sustainable agricultural activity in the Gahara sector of the Kirehe district.

"The Tuzamurane Cooperative is beneficial to the pineapple growers. It increased pineapple prices in addition to providing steady markets which led to social development," he added.

The Cooperative also employs a number of HIV-positive workers who otherwise would have no income.

Rwanda's celebrated wild mountain gorillas are a huge tourist attraction (Courtesy of www.wilderness-safaris.com)

Lodge in extinct volcano

Bisate Lodge, located within the natural amphitheatre of an extinct volcanic cone, is a new addition to Wilderness Collection and will officially open to guests from mid-2016. "We are also in discussions with the Rwanda Development Board to develop a lodge in the nearby Gishwati-Mukura National Park just a 15-minute helicopter flight to the south and even more ambitious in the scope of its vision to use responsible ecotourism to effect far-reaching and positive environmental change," said Vincent.

The lodges will be intimate and private with only 12 guests staying in six rustic forest cottages and guests will have the privilege of exclusive access to the habituated chimpanzee and golden monkey communities of Gishwati Forest. All revenues generated from these forest activities will go towards the conservation of the new Gishwati-Mukura National Park and the establishment of a connecting forest corridor between the two little-known forests of Gishwati and Mukura. By linking the two, currently separated by 16 kilometres, a combined area of nearly 6 000 ha of Albertine Rift forest and a whole host of indigenous mammals, birds, insects and plants will be protected. This will more than triple chimpanzee habitat and allow growth in the population of this vulnerable great ape.

Like Bisate Lodge, Gishwati will also open to guests in mid-2016 and will fall into the Adventures category of Wilderness Safaris camps. Itineraries combining the two camps over five to six nights will allow guests the perfect way to enjoy privileged interactions with two of Africa's great ape species and our closest genetic relatives, and can easily be broadened to enjoy the myriad other attractions of Rwanda. So book now for the adventure of a lifetime!

Go to http://www.wilderness-safaris.com/ for more information and reservations. .

Also check out Wilderness Safaris' six country summer special which offers unbeatable prices at 26 luxury camps and a diverse range of experiences to mix and match. Go to http://www.wilderness-safaris.com/media/uploads/Six%20Countries-Summer-Special-10November2015-to-20March2016.pdf

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