There isn’t so much to see when driving from the capital Kigali to Eastern Province, especially when the destination is less than two hours away. However, when we reached Rwamagana District and turned to take the dirt road between people’s homes and banana plantations, we then caught the whiff of the lake. But nothing seemed like we were going to a lodge, let alone one that has five star ratings on Google reviews. We could only see overgrown shrubs and the lake. But that was only until we took our right and had a perfect view of UMVA Muhazi, a newly launched eco-friendly lodge on a gentle slope with perfectly carved stone walkways between well-kept gardens pointing at every house. At 10:00 in the morning, the sun glitter over the lake was breath-taking, and the birds were singing at that time of the day. And then a widely-smiling Jado said a warm “welcome,” and showed us around. He has answers for every question, and he talks to people like they have been friends since childhood. Jado attends to every guest perfectly, and will never seem busy. He gets people drinks, checks them into their rooms and takes time to explain how everything works, walks them when they leave, and welcome others when they come. He also takes people for walks and inspects the kayaking, which was the most interesting activity at the lodge for me. Well, it is not advisable for guests to swim in the lake because as much as it looks beautiful, the water is teeming with snails which raise the risk of bilharzia. This automatically makes kayaking the favourite activity one can do, although sitting at the wooden floating dock to see the gentle green hills across is also refreshing. For kayaking, Jado first makes sure one is in a stable condition by gently pushing the kayak and pulling it back. But that’s after a clear illustration on how to hold a paddle, how to turn, stop, go fast, and other basics. Kayaking for the first time felt scary, but also safe at the same time. I started off quite well, but when I was going in an opposite direction from that of the lake waves, I felt a bit dizzy and lost sense of direction. The rule is to keep calm and so I did. I didn’t last a minute or even go far beyond 10 metres though, but I knew I was going to try again the following day. The dock had several sit-in kayaks, which Jado said would only be used by experienced people; sit-on-top kayaks which are very easy and comfortable to use; and stand up paddle boards which are also used by experienced kayakers. Another exciting experience at UMVA is their communal dining. Community dinner starts at 7:00 PM, and multiple courses are served on a large elegant table. When I was there, we were slightly more than a dozen guests, and the table was boisterous with laughter. Everyone wanted to know everyone, and with the help of question cards, we got to know each other better. We had a six course meal which I was not used to, but it was all tasty, especially the Mizuzu (plantain) and fish. While the outdoor gas fire pit filled with volcanic rocks was a bit tempting, I had to use my time carefully to experience as much things as possible, and part of it was my room. I slept slightly before 10:00pm, hearing a melody of frogs, crickets and other animals I couldn’t recognize their voices. I’ve heard it before, but not as intense. By 6:00 in the morning, I was woken up by the powerful dawn chorus of birds. I think I last heard one about 20 years ago when I decided to keep up all night because I was excited for a party. Only this time, it wasn’t planned. Checkout was at 10:00, like many hotels, and although I never understand why they never let us sleep until at least noon, I had set the alarm for 9:00. An hour was enough for me to get ready and making it for breakfast. The harmony of the birds, which I’m sure weren’t just dozens, was tempting me to take a look at the lake, which I could see from my bed. But I also didn’t want to get out of the very comfortable bed. I slept in a room called the ‘Birdhouse’ which has a lofted bed over a built-in bathroom underneath. Just like most (if not all) walls at UMVA, my room was built with rammed earth walls which almost looked like water waves. You see, everything about this place seemed to be begging for my attention. The shower too! The combination of hot water and the body wash, whose aroma was almost like eucalyptus, with my feet on wooden floor was just all so natural. And I could open the bottom sliding door to the bathroom to use the toilet with the lake view, although I didn’t. But I liked the bathrobe made from a beautiful Kitenge. I was also surprised that even the body wash and shampoo were bottled in glass, and the pump was metallic. Even the tooth brush, branded ‘UMVA’ was wooden. I would lie if I said I saw plastic in this place other than the kayaks. Tablemats and dustbins were made from banana fibre too. After breakfast, Jado took me and another guest for a walk around the shores of Muhazi where we met a group of children who had come to swim. I also went Kayaking, this time for an hour. Jado said he would estimate that we did a kilometre. He even shared he took part in the Ironman 70.3 race. A few minutes past 3:00 PM when I left, I couldn’t help but feel like I needed more time to have played tennis, gone for yoga, and explored the Studio which had different books, puzzles and playing cards, probably seated in one of the beanbags there were. I would have also booked a massage session with Sandrine, a 25-year-old masseur who is visually impaired. So many people recommended her services. Who needs a lake house when they can have extraordinary moments at ordinary lakes? Definitely not me!