Welcome to our first quarterly newsletter of 2020. The long wet season rains have arrived, but they never really stopped with the park receiving unprecedented rainfall in the past few months; January and February both reached record levels for the past ten years. With April usually being the wettest month of the year it seems the rains are set to continue but between the rain there have been glorious sunny days with clear blue skies and those endless Akagera views…

As we are issuing this newsletter the global pandemic of the Corona virus cannot be ignored. At this stage the park is open and receiving visitors however the Government of Rwanda are taking the threat of COVID-19 very seriously recently announcing the halting of flights in and out of Rwanda for 30 days from Friday 20th March. Already there has been an increase in vigilance in high tourism areas with measures in place to minimize the risk of spreading the virus. All guests and staff entering the park on a daily basis are screened by a team of medical staff. Handwashing stations, alcohol sanitizers and posters on preventative measures are available at the reception, as well as the lodges and offices, and staff have been briefed by medical personnel. We are encouraging the visitors to use cashless transactions for payment. We have decided to close the northern café temporarily, which had only opened very recently, and we have chosen to reduce the number of staff working in Akagera at this time. The situation is obviously evolving rapidly and the knowledge and guidelines changing day by day. With regards to the park we will be sharing any relevant information on our social media platforms and encourage everyone to adhere to the guidelines provided by national Governments and to the recommendations of the World Health Organisation. We have implemented some temporary changes to our cancelation policy for the park, as well as Ruzizi Tented Lodge and Karenge Bush Camp, to allow flexibility for booked guests to change their plans so please contact us if you have a trip coming up that will be effected by COVID-19 and the flight restrictions.

In other news! The Akagera Community Centre has been busy; two dormitories are under construction which will allow school groups to visit Akagera from further afield and several trainings took place in the last months. A group of six women together with Akagera staff learned how to construct three special mushroom growing huts at the Community Centre. Kigali Farmsprovided training on growing the protein-rich oyster mushrooms and just two weeks later the women harvested their first crop! A cooking demonstration was held in celebration of the first harvest and they have already found markets for their produce in the lodges in Akagera. The project will not only provide the women with an additional income, but also contribute to improved nutritional status in the community