On the road

The farm in yesterday’s post overlooks the Nyakabingo tungsten mine, located about 10 kms. north of Kigali.

The mine was the first stop on a two-day bus trip organized by the Foreign Ministry for diplomats. We felt a little like we were on a school field trip — only one with a police escort and a press van.

While we were at Nyakabingo, I turned down the invitation to see the mine from underground and instead photographed it from an upper road.

Paths and steps descending the hillside of the mine. About 700 people work there removing tungsten, a chemical element used in incandescent light bulb filaments, x-ray tubes, and superalloys.

The afternoon itinerary included a stop at the Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge.

The Lodge is one of two “swishy” (as Bradt’s Travel Guide puts it) places to stay in the vicinity of the Parc National des Volcans and the mountain gorillas. The other one — the Virunga Safari Lodge — we toured last month. Both cost around $500 to $600 per night per person.

Paths to the five cottages, with the volcano in the background.

Sabyinyo has the advantage of being only 10 minutes drive from the entrance to the park headquarters. Like Virunga, it offers accommodation in individual cottages.

A Sabyinyo cottage. The lodge levies a $58 per person per night community fee, and the community also receives a 17% cut of the lodge’s profits.
Two other cabins.

Also like Virunga Safari Lodge, the landscaping is kept simple so as not to compete with the gorgeous views.

The view from a cottage window.
One of the views at Sabyinyo, somewhat obscured by clouds.
A path through the bamboo.
Patio at the entrance to the main building.
A large fern by the patio steps.
Another very large fern near the main building.
Ferns and other wild plants along the path.
A smaller wild fern
Fern detail.
Impatiens native to Rwanda.
The water retention pool.
Small stream gorge filled with bamboo and eucalyptus.

We ended our day in the village of Susa, largely made up of 96 homes built with the assistance of the Rwandan government.  The people who live there include Genocide survivors, Batwa (pygmys), and Rwandans formerly living in exile in Tanzania.

Village homes with tanks that capture rainwater runoff from the roofs.

As the light began to fade, we were greeted by dancers.

Susa village dancers.

6 thoughts on “On the road

  1. We are threatened with a tungsten mine at Moutonshoek. Major issues with water, that threatens a thriving farming community. And then polluted runoff to RAMSAR site Verlorenvlei with migratory birds.
    Are there problems with polluted water and spoil heaps?

    1. Well, the mine specialist I asked toward the end of the visit indicated there was some runoff, but no toxicity problem, but we talked only briefly over the noise of machinery. And we weren’t there long enough to see the whole site, so I really can’t say. I will have to do some research on tungsten mining and health risks. Environmental impact concerns may have been discussed more thoroughly during the underground portion of the tour.

      The mine didn’t seem to have a very large footprint in the area, and the land would otherwise be used for rather minimally productive farms. The community may highly value salaries for 700 people.

      1. 700 families supported by the mine – yes that is valid. Doesn’t look too bad, and there are many tall trees and dense vegetation. Completely different natural environment to our situation. Was watching a TV programme about ours – women are now employed to prune and train vines. If the mine comes, there will be NO work for all those women.

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