Rwanda’s passionate female conservationist on Kigali’s best

Conservation and Community Program Manager at Singita’s lodges in Rwanda, Claudine Tuyishime, shares where to walk, rest and grab a bite in the capital.
Written by Melanie van Zyl
22 May 2022

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Claudine Tuyishime is a female conservationist, passionate about connecting people to nature. She is responsible for coordinating the conservation and community program at Singita Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda and liaising with stakeholders.

Singita’s 178-acre property sits on the border of Volcanoes National Park; one of four national parks in Rwanda and its most heavily patrolled. Home to one-third of the world’s remaining mountain gorillas, conservation of this precious habitat is an enormous priority.

Kigali Map

Claudine’s days involve environmental monitoring and protection, following up on the plant nursery and landscape reforestation, working closely with contractors to ensure that safe and sustainable practices are followed, and organising community consultation meetings and regular communication with local authorities in Rwanda.

 

An African Insider’s City Guide to Kigali

Kigali is central, with lush hillsides but a heartbreaking history. Claudine dishes the details on secret museums and her best brunch spots to indulge in before setting off to explore the rest of Rwanda.

Claudine Tuyishime
Kwitonda’s conservation program and ambitious reforestation effort is headed up by Claudine Tuyishime, the conservation and community officer | Source: Jordan Snowzell

 

Claudine, please express your style in two words so we can suss out your recommendations

I am simple and confident. 

What’s your day job and how did it bring you to this city?

I coordinate the conservation and community program at Singita Volcanoes National Park. I came to this city when I joined Singita in 2017.

Singita Conservation Room
Singita Kwitonda Lodge lies beside the Volcanoes National Park and features a thoughtful Conservation Room, on-site nursery and vegetable garden – which provides fresh produce for Kwitonda’s farm-to-table food journey | Source: Singita, Rwanda

Do you prefer the outdoors or the indoors?

Always outdoors when in Kigali!

How would you describe Kigali in five words? What’s the vibe?

Clean, green, healthy, cool and not very expensive.

Kigali City Guide to Rwanda
Kigali is a relatively new city. It was founded as an administrative outpost in 1907, and became the capital of the country at independence in 1962 | Source: Rwanda Tourism Board

What brings you joy?

My family, especially my three sons, are my strong motivation.

Is there a flavour that instantly reminds you of this city?

The nyamacoma (a local BBQ, whole goat roasted in the oven) dish comes to mind.

First thing’s first. What’s your top Kigali brunch spot?

The Retreat by Heaven. (Or later in the day, you can join a Heaven Banana Wine Experience). 

What’s a dinner party dish you enjoy making?

A good barbecue with roasted Kinigi potatoes, and a nice salad. 

A favourite place to meet with friends?

Inka Steakhouse.

Kigali
Kigali is a thriving African city immediately notable for its cleanliness, orderliness, and warm hospitality | Source: Karin Schermbrucker

Money is no object. Where’s the first place you take someone?

The Serena Hotel. There’s lots of space and great food.

Got anything on your own city bucket list that you’ve been meaning to check out?

A full-day walking tour. There are lots of areas I would like to have time to explore on foot.

Be honest. What’s the most overrated stop in your city?

Bourbon Coffee.

One unmissable museum or gallery that’s worth the queue?

Don’t miss the Kigali Genocide Memorial site to learn about the country’s history. 

Genocide Museum Kigali
The Kigali Genocide Memorial is the final resting place for more than 250,000 victims of the Genocide against the Tutsi | Source: Karin Schermbrucker

Complete this sentence. Skip the tourist landmarks and…

Visit the Kandt House museum and the Museum for the Campaign Against Genocide. It’s hidden inside the parliament building and most people don’t know about it.

Any recent openings you adore?

Inzozi House Africa in Kicukiro is a new restaurant and affordable hotel. In the neighbourhood, you’ll find also find markets, coffee shops and the famous Lamane bakery.

You have to buy a last-minute gift! Where do you go for something unusual?

Nyamirambo Women’s Center. This collective of women creates and sells beautiful bags, decor and more. 

Nyamirambo Women’s Center
Nyamirambo Women’s Center (NWC), a Rwandan NGO, was launched at the end of 2007 by 18 Rwandese women living in Nyamirambo, Kigali. Together they created a project which aimed to address gender-based violence, gender inequality and discrimination | Source: Nyamirambo Women’s Center

Give us the scoop. What’s the Covid-19 reality check on the ground? Any policies to know about? Industry hardships?

Get your vaccination, wear a mask, and adhere to social distancing and regular testing. Most coffee shops and restaurants will ask for a vaccination certificate at the door in Kigali. 

Where do you go to unwind?

Tedga’s Recreation Center. We go as a family and the kids love it!

One piece of advice you’d give to a family visitor coming for the first time?

Visit during the summer, and, again, don’t miss the Kigali Genocide Memorial site to learn about the country’s history. 

Also read:  Top 10 things to know when planning your first African safari

What African destination is on your own bucket list?

Zanzibar island for sure! 

 

Kigali sits in the centre of the country and is a great base from which to organise your trip around Rwanda. Inspired? Plan your trip to Rwanda with all the inside advice. 

Book your next trip with us

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