Sun. Jul 5th, 2020

Rwanda’s transit township fast budding into a lucrative tourist destination

SINA’s Coffee Shop where no traveller can afford to leave without a cup of coffee (PHOTO/Eric Nzabirinda)

By George Kalisa 

Formerly a famous stopover for travellers including tourists heading to the secondary cities of Rubavu and Musanze, Tare also known as Nyirangarama, the capital city of Rulindo District, has evolved into a lucrative tourist attraction in recent years.

Virtually, Rubavu and Musanze are the main tourist destinations for the East African nation with streams of visitors, including world celebrities who frequent visit the Volcano National Park to see part of the remaining Mountain Gorillas in the world. This is no longer news to Rwandans and any visitors that have been to the country of a thousand hills and a thousand smiles. 

But, what is news is how and why Nyirangarama Township along the Kigali-Musanze highway has evolved into an attractive and competitive tourist destination in spite of being a transit township.

Hardly an hour’s drive away from Rwanda’s capital Kigali, Nyirangarama is a transit town which wouldn’t be literally included in itinerary of any sober and time-conscious traveller.

Sixteen past ten in the morning of February25, my watch reads. I’m trying to negotiate with somehow disappointing news before I decide what next. The postponement of the official opening of a new convent of the missionaries of Sacred Heart of Jesus and Mary at CHAPELLE St. GERARD on the campus of College Fondation SINA GERARD disorganized my day.

I decided to stroll around the small city [read Nyirangarama] to effectively handle equations of time and duty adjustments on my roaster.  No longer had I moved a few steps than I discovered that the traffic was unusually heavy.

“Eric, can you take a few snaps?” I whispered to the company’s photographer. He never took me serious, though he finally succumbed to my request. So, he took some photos, and then I asked bystanders why the traffic was too heavy.

Quickly, I pumped into an old man in his seventies, with a white goatee, like he’s omnipresent in this sprouting city because his face seemed familiar to me.

“Hi, it is normal these days, apart from the passenger vehicles that stop here for refreshments and to ease themselves, hundreds of tourists have found Nyirangarama a new destination,” David Musabyeyezu

[not real name]

because he requested for anonymity.

His response tickled my curiosity. It rose to uncontrollable levels and I humbly asked for reasons.

“The SINA coffee, most travellers, you can see them just at SINA’s Coffee Shop, discovered it tastes nice, and just go upstairs, they also enjoy the dishes served at Kimaranzara Restaurant,” he added as I tipped off the photographer to move up before I could say “thank you” to him.

Suddenly, we’re treated to a largely foreign community feasting on a variety of dishes. Memories of my mother’s lessons on table manners resurfaced and immediately I asked Eric not to take any photo in the posh restaurant and my sight had caught with senior local leaders at the Rulindo district, entitled to their privacy.

Nyirangarama is not a gazetted tourist destination. Perhaps, it will not happen soon. But, the level of customer care of the staff and the SINA family, the quality of food, coffee and all tribes of refreshments there, is a pull factor that has attracted tourists. Surprisingly, I saw visitors from all over the world there.

A waitress insinuated to me that whenever they fill like they will continue the journey the next day, they drive up Tare hill to spend a night in the modern tourist camps owned by SINA Gerard also the Founder and Managing Director of Entreprise Urwibutso.        

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