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In late June, a lush sanctuary known as Bisate Lodge opened just outside the southern border of Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda. While most visitors travel to Rwanda to go gorilla trekking, “Bisate could be a reason to go by itself,” said a recent guest.

Bedroom interiors

Designed by architect Nick Plewman in collaboration with Caline Williams-Wynn of the Cape Town-based firm Artichoke and Teta Isibo of Inzuki Designs, various design elements were borrowed from aspects of the Rwandan culture. For example, the textiles and use of texture are reflective of the rainforests and interestingly the recognizable thatched structures were constructed from synthetic thatch, which is the first known lodge in Africa built with synthetic thatch.

A fireplace is situated in the center of each villa.

Many of the custom furnishings are crafted using imigongo, a Rwandan art form.

The design team used black and white cow hides to celebrate the rural spirit of the villages.

Adorned with a bedroom and bathroom, fireplace, and reception area, each 980-square-foot villa boasts panoramic views towards Mount Bisoke.

“With only six luxurious forest villas, the real generosity of Bisate in the Rwandan context is the amount of private and exclusive space that surrounds the Lodge, sheltering it in a rare natural landscape brimming with Albertine Rift biodiversity and beauty,” explained Wilderness Safaris COO, Grant Woodrow.

Exterior view of the thatched villas

According to the managers, the design team worked closely with the locals during the building process and most of the staff is from the community.

Architecture and designNick Plewman
Interior design: Caline Williams-Wynn (lead) from Artichoke, Teta Isibo founder of Inzuki Designs