Kigali city is the capital city of the Republic of Rwanda, a landlocked country located in East Africa bordered by Uganda in the North, the Democratic Republic of Congo in the West, Burundi in the South and the Republic of Tanzania in the East. Kigali city is the largest city in Rwanda, and has since 1962 when the country got its independence from the Belgium colonial rule been the country’s economic, cultural and transport hub. Kigali city is at an elevation of 1,567 meters covering a total area size of 730 square kilometres. Kigali city is made up of three districts namely Gasabo, Kicukiro and Nyarugenge. Kigali city is a beautiful city that is very clean and considered the cleanliest in Africa. Plastics bags are not allowed Rwanda for they are replaced with paper bags. Littering is punishable in Kigali city.
The language used in Kigali city is French widely, given that the country was colonised by Belgium, but Kinyarwanda, Swahili and English are also used though not so many can ably converse in English. The currency used in Kigali city of Rwanda is the Rwandan Francs, with other currencies like the United States Dollars being widely acceptable. The time zone of Kigali city is GMT+2, with its neighbours like Uganda and Tanzania being in the GMT+3 time zone.
Getting around in Kigali city is not so hard for there are taxis and motorcycles that are commonly used by even the locals, at a very fair price which is however dependent on the distance to be covered. Kigali International Airport is the country’s main point of entry for international travellers, with RwandAir as the country’s flag carrier. RwandAir operates internationally to East, West, Central and South Africa as well as Europe, the Middle East and Asia. Irrespective of your point of origin, you cannot fail to get to Rwanda for there are many international airlines that fly into Kigali International Airport say KLM and KQ.
Given Kigali city’s beauty, modernisation and vibrant nature, visitors are mesmerised with it and often times stay for more days just to get a feel of staying in the city. The city however has a number of attractions that are worth visiting for any traveller, ranging from historical sites to modern centres. Kigali city is characterised by the rolling hills of the country, that the views themselves are very rewarding.
Attractions in Kigali city
There are a number of attractions in Kigali city that travellers can visit and get to learn of the country’s history and current way of life. Kigali city has historical sites, museums, shopping centres, restaurants, arts and craft centres, festivals, market tours, nightlife and so much more that travellers can enjoy while in the city. Some of the attractions in Kigali city include;
Kigali genocide memorial centre
The Kigali genocide memorial centre is where well over 250,000 victims of the 1994 Rwanda genocide rest. The 1994 Rwanda genocide saw both Tutsi and Hutu killing themselves that between 500,000-1,000,000 people lost their lives. The Kigali genocide memorial centres was built where about 250,000 victims’ bodies lay, and it is a reminder of the cruelties that took place at that time. There three exhibitions at the Kigali genocide memorial centre namely the permanent exhibition, the children’s memorial as well as the exhibition on the history of genocide violence world over.
Presidential palace museum
Here, visitors get to see the wreckage of the then president of Rwanda President Habyarimana’s plane that was shot down as it was landing, an act that is reportedly the spark of the 1994 Rwanda genocide. President Habyarimana died along with the then president of Burundi, a fellow Hutu.
Sainte-Famille Church was a catholic church from where both Hutu and Tutsi sought refuge during the genocide. They were however later killed with the help of the catholic priest who helped the Hutu armed men to kill the Tutsi.
Kandt Museum of Natural history
This was the home of the first Belgian colonial governor of Rwanda who was called Richard Kandt. This museum is dedicated to the presentation of the evolution of animals, plants, the ground and the interdependency of the people and their environment. While at the museum, travellers are provided with information and knowledge about Rwanda’s history and culture right from to when they were still under the colonial rule of the Germans, to when the Belgians took over up until when Rwanda got its independence and Kigali was made the capital city in 1962.
Inema Arts centre
The Inema arts centre was founded in 2012 and it showcases Africa’s sculptures and paintings, organises concerts, yoga classes for travellers, art exhibitions, and traditional dance performance among other activities done and organised there. Travellers can purchase artefacts that they might be interested in say jewellery and pieces of art.
Mount Kigali is the highest point in Kigali at 6000 feet. Travellers with an adventurous spirit would venture into climbing it and be rewarded with amazing views of Kigali city and is a good place for photography. Hiking Mount Kigali starts from Nyamirambo which is near Sun City Hotel. Horseback riding is possible around the countryside of Mount Kigali. The slopes of Mount Kigali are rather gentle and therefore favour even the least experienced hiker or mountain climber.
Hotel des Mille Collines
This is also commonly referred to as Hotel Rwanda which inspired the Hollywood movie Hotel Rwanda was the hiding place of some Tutsi during the Rwanda genocide. This hotel was able to save a number of Tutsi lives with the help of the hotel manager Mr. Paul Rusesabagina.
Other attractions in Kigali city that travellers could visit include the Nyanza genocide memorial, Nyamirambo area which is one of the oldest neighbourhoods in Rwanda, Nyarugenge hill, Kacyiru hill Lake Nyaturama, among so many others.
Great shopping spots for those travellers that are keen at it are not limited to the following; Kigali cultural village, Haute Baso, House of Tayo, Abraham Konga and The shop. Rwandan cuisine is one worth experiencing while in Kigali city. Some of the best restaurants to visit include the Heaven restaurant, Fusion, Poivre Noir, Meze fresh and the Repub Lounge among others.
To have a feel of Kigali’s nightlife and some sort of entertainment rather than touring, travellers can check out the Pillipili, Question Coffee and Inzora rooftop café among others.
There are a number of activities that travellers can take part in while basing in Kigali city. These include gorilla trekking in Volcanoes National Park which is roughly 3 hours away from Kigali city, golden monkey tracking in Volcanoes National Park, chimpanzee tracking in Nyungwe Forest National Park as well canopy walks that reward travellers with a bird’s eye view of the park, and wildlife game viewing on fascinating game drives in Akagera National Park as well as boat safaris on Lake Ihema and Lake Kivu, among so many others. All one needs to do is get in touch with a reputable tour operator to plan for the best way to experience one or more of these activities.
Best time to visit Kigali city
Kigali city can be visited any time throughout the year, with the best time being in the dry season which doubles as the peak season for when tourists flaunt the place. The dry season is a great time to explore the city without interruptions of the weather.
Accommodation in Kigali city
There are various accommodation facilities in Kigali city that visitors can opt to stay in, depending on their budget ranges. There are up-market/luxury hotels, mid-range and budget accommodation options from which travellers can choose to in. some of the hotels that travellers can choose from include Kigali Marriot hotel, Kigali Serena hotel, Grand Legacy hotel, Urban by City Blue Kigali, Yambi guesthouse, and so many others.
Kigali city is undoubtedly a beautiful city very rich in history and cultural heritage that is all very fascinating and fulfilling to experience. The culture of the people as well as their welcoming and hospitable nature, the amazing local cuisines and craft as well as wonderful coffee all make one’s stay in Kigali city all the more wonderful and appealing to those yet to decide on their African safari destination.
Kigali city as mentioned above is a transportation hub that it has acted as a starting point for many Congo safaris and Uganda safari tours given that some tourist destinations in these two countries can more easily be accessed from Kigali. Travellers tend to fly into Kigali International Airport and then proceed by either air or road transfer to the Congo and Uganda. The road transfer is much advised though given that it is very rewarding to travellers; the rolling hills of Rwanda are better viewed while on a road transfer, and travellers also get an opportunity to see the typical Rwanda countryside with the locals going about their daily routines. Fly into Rwanda and enjoy your stay in Kigali city and then be transferred to your final destination. Get in touch with a reputable tour operator to help you put together a wonderful stay in Kigali.