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branching out

The Nyarutarama Lake is fine for dog walking and bird watching, but it’s not exactly the most scenic of locations, even if it is the one public place we’ve found in Kigali that has some greenery. When S decided she wanted to get family photos done, we ventured a bit farther afield in search of a more suitable location, winding up on the shores of Lake Muhazi.

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D had come across Lake Muhazi on a birding website, which naturally piqued his interest. The thin, serpentine lake stretches east to west, with its western shore a popular destination for tourists wanting to break up the drive to Akagera National Park. The lake’s eastern tip lies about 45 minutes north of Kigali. We get out of work at lunchtime on Fridays, so we took advantage of the shortened workday to scope out Lake Muhazi.

Arriving in Rwesero, the little village on the lakeshore, we were thrilled with what we saw. One couldn’t exactly approach the lake – the shoreline was all swamp and tall reedbeds – but a few enterprising entrepreneurs had opened restaurants right at the water’s edge, and one of them had a series of rustic boardwalks as well as some landscaped green space that struck us as a perfect location for family photos.

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We arrived in the late afternoon, and D insisted on staying through the golden hour to see if he could spot some birds. The restaurant proved a disappointing location, but the swamps just up the road were atwitter with birdlife. Most exciting for D were the many turacos that congregated in the trees that lined the lakeshore. In addition to numerous Ross’s turacos, which D had previously seen, he also spotted a purple-crested turaco all but concealed deep in the foliage of a tall tree.

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We returned the following afternoon and were in for quite a surprise. The lakeshore restaurant had been dormant when we visited on Friday, but during the weekend it seemed like all of Rwesero was busy partying at our photo spot. The makeshift parking lot was packed to the gills, there was music blaring out of giant speakers, and almost all of the thatched cabanas were filled with beer-drinking locals.

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Fortunately, there was still plenty of space for us to spread out. We brought books, blankets, bubbles, and a few other props to entertain Munchkin throughout the 2-hour-long photo shoot. He was a champ for the most part, though he did break down eventually, requiring reinforcement in the form of goat brochettes. We were on a mission that weekend, but the brochettes were good and the lakeshore quite scenic, which makes us tempted to return one of these afternoons.

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A few birds from various locations that have not made it into our previous birding posts.

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