The first of its kind in Rwanda, Bisate Kwanda a day lounge, is a proud showcase of Rwandan creativity, resourcefulness and commitment to conservation, and a testament to a team dedicated to creating impactful Rwandan journeys. Guests of Bisate Lodge can now relax in the comfort and understated luxury of this fully-staffed day lounge, which is ideal for early arrivals and late departures.
BUT WHY KWANDA?
Kwanda is a Kinyarwanda word meaning growth or expansion; a place to gather; a gift – all three of which perfectly sum up the lounge’s unique offering. Interestingly, Kwanda is said to be the origin of the word Rwanda. When one of the early Rwandan kings was enlarging his realm, he was practising “Kwanda,” which in turn became Rwanda.
As such, the Bisate Kwanda is our gift to our guests, a place to unwind and learn more about the area, people and cultures, all while taking in the beauty and tranquillity of Bisate.
THE INSIDE STORY
Bisate Kwanda offers four spacious en-suite relaxation rooms, each with a bathroom and lounge area with coffee- and tea-making facilities. Here, guests can freshen up, shower, change and even request an in-room massage after hiking in Volcanoes National Park.
The spacious circular open-plan lounge features a traditional central fireplace, comfortable leather couches, reading materials and the Bisate Boutique – stocked with unique local art, and ingenious artisanal crafts.
With views of the area’s magnificent landscape, the lounge is set in Bisate’s impressive organic vegetable gardens. Guests can enjoy lunch at the Bisate Kwanda restaurant while surrounded by bountiful fresh produce – all harvested for the lodge’s delicious, nutritious meals.
THE RWANDANS OF KARISOKE
A beautiful tribute to Rwandan conservationists working in Volcanoes National Park during the early days of gorilla conservation is included on the walls of the main lounge, providing an overview of the personalities behind this important research work from the 1970s and ‘80s.
Pictures and stories from that time are interwoven with updates on these conservationists now, some of whom still live in the villages surrounding Bisate. To read their tales and admire the rare John Fowler photographs (an acclaimed author and photographer, famed for his publication “A forest in the Clouds: My Year Among the Mountain Gorillas in the Remote Enclave of Dian Fossey”) from those historic times offers the mind’s eye a remarkable journey through Rwandan mountain gorilla conservation history.
Other walls feature locally made floating shelves bearing framed pictures and stories of Bisate Lodge, Children in the Wilderness, the reforestation programme, the tree nursery, community involvement, and of course, the gorillas.
PRIDE OF PLACE
Located close to the main lodge but tucked out of sight, Bisate Kwanda is a celebration of community and self-sustainability. Besides the construction itself and the organic garden, local craftspeople have been instrumental in creating its authentic Rwandan flavour – from the striking entrance floors and hallways to the volcanic rock cladding and ribbed walls, hand-tooled wooden utensils, stunning ceramic artwork and hand-woven lightshades.
HOW DOES KWANDA’S GARDEN GROW?
Based on the concept of permaculture, a sustainable and self-sufficient ecosystem has been created on the Kwanda’s doorstep. Companion planting is practiced, as symbiotic relationships have been shown to enhance the growth and yield of both plants, as well as succession planting, to ensure the soil is always renewed and enriched. Resident agriculturalists are more than happy to accompany guests should they wish to walk through the garden and learn more – or simply relax and explore this calming space at leisure.
FOOD FOR THE SOUL
Bisate Kwanda’s menu comprises seasonal ingredients for freshness, the majority of which come straight from the garden or are supplied by nearby communities. For example, red-skinned and wonderfully starchy potatoes are grown in the nutrient-rich volcanic soil of the surrounding valleys and delivered to the Kwanda’s door. Eggs are brought by a local chicken farmer – organic, free range and delicious. Other treats include wild honey, avocados, tree tomatoes, coffee, tea, plantains, papayas, and chilies, to name a few. As much as possible, vegetables, garnishes and herbs are picked fresh from the garden – which is growing by the day, in every sense!
The Kwanda’s many culinary delights include hearty soups, seasonal salads, gourmet pizzas, focaccias, platters, burgers, sandwiches, desserts, cakes, fresh juices, signature beverages, smoothies, a range of fine imported wines, and of course, Rwanda’s famous coffee.
MEMORIES ARE MADE OF THIS
Inside the Kwanda, the colorful artisanal Bisate Boutique beckons, filled with Rwandan art, and crafts made by various small enterprises from around the country – perfect to take home as mementos, or gifts. Choose from a uniquely designed clothing line, local-grown tea blends, Rwandan coffee, handmade beeswax candles, cow horn art, jewelery, beadwork, woven goods, oils, lotions, potions, soaps and so much more.
Although each enterprise offers something different, they all have one thing in common: a desire to uplift their communities, empower women, educate children, and create a better life for themselves and the country they are so proud of.