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Discovering Lake Mirayi

Discovering Lake Mirayi

I wrote my last piece yesterday while having lunch in Kayonza. If I remember correctly, I mentioned my plan to visit Lake Mugesera. Well, that didn’t happen. I am writing this one from Bugesera Lake Hotel on the shore of Lake Mirayi. How did I end up here?

After publishing my last story, I headed to Ngoma where I spent the rest of the day. Earlier this morning, I proceeded to Bugesera via Sake. Along the way, I discovered Akagera River and learned one or two things about rice farming. I also saw several lakes and bypassed many more.

How many lakes and rivers are in this area? It’s 10 o’clock in the morning, but I have already seen five water bodies for the first time. My host hasn’t explored the area extensively, but he quickly mentioned seven lakes found in the vicinity. The greater Ngoma - Bugesera marshland is embellished with a cluster of lakes and separated by Akagera River, which is part of the upper headwaters of the Nile.

The magnificent Bugesera Lake Hotel is found in Gashora Sector, six kilometers from Ramiro junction. It takes about an hour to drive to this lakeside sanctuary from Kigali. I expected to be the only visitor on a Wednesday morning, but that’s not the case. There are patrons sipping cold ones in the garden.

I am seated on the edge of a wooden terrace connected to the shore by a grass-thatched walkway. It feels like sitting on the deck of a floating vessel. Fifty meters from my table, a hippo is popping its nose from the water.

Not far away from the said hippo, an old man is paddling his small wooden canoe. I wave at him, and he returns the friendly gesture. "Aren’t you afraid of the hippo?" I shout at him. "No, I am not afraid." He responds calmly. He also informs me that there are two other hippos underneath the surface of the lake. According to him, the two invisible monsters are closer to my deck than the one that is already freaking me out.

Turns out, the old fella has been traversing the lake his entire life. He has learned to live with them. He can locate them even when they are totally submerged. I ask him if there are crocodiles in the lake. "No, this lake is crocodile-free." One of these day, I will share more about my interaction with the old man in a small canoe. Stay tuned.

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