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Umusambi Trail: Nature walk in a birding paradise

Umusambi Trail: Nature walk in a birding paradise

Umusambi Trail is one of a kind. The wooden footpath is set up in Umusambi Village found in Gasabo District. The facility provides a safe haven for the endangered grey-crowned cranes saved from a cartel of illegal pet trade. While in captivity, these majestic birds lost their wings, and hence, their ability to fly. Though incapacitated, the rescued cranes are back to nature, where they belong.

When I visited Umusambi Village, I indulged in a nature walk along Umusambi Trail. This was a tour of a wetland-turned into a nature reserve area. The successful transformation of a mosquito-breeding swamp into an eco-tourism park came with great social, economic and environmental benefits.

Umusambi is a Kinyarwanda word which means crane. However, cranes are not the only birds calling Umusambi Village home. There are more than 100 species of birds in this sanctuary, making it a true birding paradise.

While walking along the trail, I heard numerous birds singing. Birds are gifted musicians. Some of them have one single while others have several tracks, even a couple of albums, in their repertoires. When different singers are in action at the same time, their melodies are meshed to produce a fusion of sounds. That’s what happened when I strolled around the beautiful garden. However, I was able to distinguish different patterns, tones and pitches.

Birds use distinct utterances to communicate. What sounds like music to us could be a message intended to inform a female recipient that the male "singer" is available for mating. What we perceive as a hit song could be a warning or a bird’s way of marking the territory.

Walking is credited for a litany of health benefits. The oldest form of exercising also serves as a great recreational activity. This particular nature walk is not only healthy but also informative. I learned one or two things about wildlife and the importance of environmental conservation.

There are several other trails in the park, lookout spots and a picnic area. Benches are placed here and there for those who need to take breathers along the way. Also encompassed, is a nursery in which seeds of native trees are groomed. Plans to add cycling trails and antelopes are in the pipeline. In a bid to enhance the study tour aspect, storytelling experiences and sessions dubbed ’Meet the Vet’ will be introduced in a near future. The best is yet to come.

The author is currently visiting all 30 districts of Rwanda. His tour of Gasabo is sponsored by The Click Creations, Ikaze Rwanda Tours & Travel and Elimo Real Estate Ltd.

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