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In Africa

Text Tabitha Lasley

A round-up of travel news from Brussels Airlines’ long-haul network

Hotel with a view

SABYINYO SILVERBACK LODGE, RWANDA

Where is it? Near Parc National des Volcans, north-west Rwanda, tel. +254 (0)20 273 4000, www.governorscamp.com

What’s the view? Each of the eight cottages has its own spectacular view. Depending on whether the room is north or south facing, guests look out over the verdant slopes of the volcanoes or lush farmland.

What to expect The cottages are constructed from local stone and finished with warm shades of terracotta and ochre. Each comes with a private veranda and huge windows, so guests can make the most of the fabulous views.

What you need to know? The lodge is a good choice for the ethically-minded – it’s designed to leave as small a carbon footprint as possible. Much of the revenue also finances local development projects, which are documented in the community development room.

Why go there? The biggest draw is the local population of mountain gorillas – the Virunga volcano range is one of their last refuges. Guests have the opportunity to spend an hour with a gorilla family, and most find the experience so powerful rangers routinely recommend booking two consecutive trips.

What does it cost? From €389 per person per night.

Holidays with a conscience

Now the ethics of global travel are at the forefront of many people’s minds, it isn’t surprising a whole new breed of holiday has sprung up. Companies such as Farside Africa (www.farsideafrica.com) now offer tourists the opportunity to give something back to the country they’re visiting.

Farside Africa is the brainchild of Vicky Stirling, who travelled around Africa for nine years. It offers ethically sound tours, including art safaris and Samburu-led treks. These holidays go some way towards maintaining Kenya’s delicate ecological balance, which has been compromised by the trebling of the population in the past 40 years.

It’s not only enterprising travellers who are capitalising on contemporary concerns. The Pokot tribe has set up the Kaptuya Wildlife Conservancy, 20,000 acres of protected land on the edge of the Rift Valley. Given that the tribe has long been associated with poaching, this is persuasive evidence that a big change is afoot in Kenyan tourism.

Centre Marembo

Since opening Centre Marembo two years ago, the Rwandan Youth Information Community Organisation (rYico) has provided advice, guidance and accommodation for young people in Kigali.

Working with children’s charity Umuseke, rYico’s achievements include sending 20 street children to school, providing accommodation for 16 of them and offering classes in mechanics, art and IT.

The emphasis is on education, and the centre offers vocational courses as well as life-skills classes. Even the simplest courses – such as how to make cards with just a razor, paper and banana tree bark – are designed to make pupils more employable.

www.ryico.org

Info > To find out more about Brussels Airlines’ long-haul destinations, visit www.bspiritmagazine.com or the airline website www.brusselsairlines.com

One to watch…

Jalex

The grandson of noted griot (West African poet) Jali Foday, Gambian singer Jalex sees his career as the logical progression of his grandfather’s legacy. It follows that most of his music, which he describes as ‘AfroAfric’, is sung in Mandinka. Although his debut album, Soma Alfaa, has captured critical attention in his native country, since picking up Best New Artist at the UK’s SeneGambian Awards earlier this year, he’s setting his sights on the international market. Jalex is currently putting the finishing touches to his second album, which should be out in the new year.

www.jalexonline.com

In words

Images Corbis, Steve Bloom Images,

Inspiring images from Brussels Airlines’ African destinations

The Virunga mountains in Parc Nacional des Volcans, Rwanda, home of the endangered mountain gorilla

A traditional Baule mask, worn in the Man region of the Ivory Coast

Wildebeest soak up the rain in Kenya’s Masai Mara

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