Sowarthe is a couple of hours drive outside Kigali and a great place to come for a night or two of relaxation, tea drinking, and possibly tennis, if that’s your thing. You can call 0788 300 532 to book or for more information.
The tea plantation is located in Kinihira which is down a 19km reasonably well-maintained dirt road. Turn right a couple of kilometres after Nyirangarama and follow the signs. The drive to Nyirangarama takes about an hour and the dirt road is another 45 minutes or so. If you want a bit of adventure you can take a bus to Nyirangarama and then take a moto the last stretch. It’d be a pretty hairy moto ride though… so not for the feint of heart.
My housemates and I attempted this trip one weekend only to find ourselves stranded on the side of the road for eight hours after our car decided to stop cooperating. We broke down just outside of Nyirangarama and the local mechanics… well… I don’t know anything about cars but they fiddled around with our fuel pump (including sucking on it while some guy who was hanging around was sipping on a bottle of gasoline for no reason) for six hours without fixing a thing. Then some Kigali mechanics came to our rescue, identified the problem immediately (the timing belt… whatever that is) and towed us back home. So this isn’t the best place to have a breakdown. Just saying.
The guys at Sorwathe were well aware of our car troubles and were great. They helped us find a Kigali mechanic and one of their guys stopped at the side of the road (he was driving back from Kigali himself) and waited while the mechanics sorted us out. They let us reschedule (we had pre-paid for our stay) without any hassle.
Sorwathe have a guesthouse right there on the grounds and if you’re there to chill out then it’s probably the best place to stay. I saw an Auberge just outside the plantation gates but it didn’t look like the sort of place you’d go to relax. It was more of the kind of place you’d go to be detained. but I could be wrong. Rooms start at Rwf 35,000 for one person or Rwf 40,000 for two. A triple costs Rwf 70,000. I’ve written a review of the Sorwathe Guest House so instead of repeating myself (nobody wants that), check it out.
This is a tea plantation. So drinking tea and other tea-related activities are obvious choices for things to do to keep busy. The plantation grounds are beautiful and stretch on and on into the valley. They’ve got plenty of tea on offer so sample a few before heading out to enjoy the day. We were there on a Sunday and a national holiday so there wasn’t any action in the factory. I’m not sure if you can do tours but this could be something to ask about.
The area is gorgeous and going for a long walk is another way to fill some time. I think you need to leave the Guest House’s grounds to be able to fully explore, though. We headed back out the front gate and walked through the town up a hill before doubling back on a path we found through the forest. Our efforts at walking through the tea were thwarted by the rain, but if you get a nice day and give yourself plenty of time, you could really have a nice wander through lush, green tea plants.
Then there’s the aforementioned tennis. For some reason they’ve decided to put a clay tennis court in front of their guesthouse. No grass, no pool, no garden… tennis. So if you’re into playing, you can rent the court for Rwf 2,000 but bring your own equipment. They’ve also got mini golf (again, bring your own equipment… and who doesn’t travel with putters and golf balls, these days?), table tennis, darts and badminton for the sporty, tea-drinker types out there.