Gahiza Island – The surroundings

The start of the day was gorgeous with a clear sky until, later, it started becoming grey – we imagined that it might rain soon, but we didn’t want to think about it until we had no other choice. There was nothing we could do but stay present and enjoy the moment, literally.
The waters were calm, almost still, and the other islands that populate Lake Mutanda doubled their size, that day, in the reflections of the perfect, shiny mirrors all around them. The grey clouds in the sky followed, completing an interesting, almost surreal, panorama.

I wish I could have gone on one of the traditional canoes that I had seen the local people using to move around the lake. However, if I had, I would have needed to leave my camera behind. It seems that when I take photos, I need to move around a lot, even on a boat. These ancient, crafted vessels require the full attention of the passengers during the experience, so my camera would almost certainly have taken away from me.



The wooden canoes were not the only ones effortlessly sliding on the surface of Lake Mutanda that morning.

A white-breasted cormorant was swimming around our boat, not particularly interested in us, which allowed me to get some nice shots of the visual harmony that its presence was part of.

This was the first of a parade of encounters I had that morning. During our birdwatching adventure, I was lucky enough to spot a couple of red and black turaco playing hide-and-seek with me and my camera between the trees. I got a pretty blurred image, of which I am very proud, and that took me a good ten minutes to obtain.

I couldn’t see any African spoonbill, unfortunately, but I saw what I thought was a nest made by the hamerkop, which is always an amazement. This medium- sized bird, with a peculiar head shape that gives it the its name, has the habit to of building a gigantic nest for himself and his family. This ingenious nest can be seen from far away and the first time I saw it in Rwanda, I imagined that the architect must have been a giant bird. Funnily enough, I was very wrong.


There are other birds that populate the lake’s trees: among them the unusual African green pigeons; the black kites, many of which I have seen fishing; and also the hadada ibis, inspecting us from afar in his dark plumage.

Our tour ended in a cave tucked away on another deserted island, where human remains were found in 2012. There are skulls but also entire body parts with the skin still attached to them. To know the origins of those skeletons, you would need to complete the puzzle in person, by listening to the local storyteller who found them in 2012.


Our tour took us around to see houses belonging to Gahiza village, on the peninsulas.

A little boy waving to us from a distance, perfectly immersed in his environment.

Behind the hills of the cultivated land, I noticed a familiar shape covered by clouds – Muhabura standing in the background, ‘our guide’ watching over us.

We continue our tour around the southern region of the lake undisturbed, and as if we had planned it by the minute, as soon as I collected my luggage from the island and headed towards the other pier and Kisoro, we noticed the clouds getting darker and darker and moving faster towards us. The sky was divided in two and I was able to tell the moment we moved into the second half.



My visit to the Island ended, like a perfect circle, as it had started: with rain.
However, on my departure, the cry of the sky was stronger, and I took it as a welcome sign of a blessing and an invitation to come back.

I am also thankful because it provided me with a very original shot: while the sky was coming down on us, I didn’t want to leave the boat or the water.



Thanks, Lake Mutanda!

Webale Nyo, David, for your hospitality on the lovely Gahiza Island. See you soon!


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