Kigali City Rwanda
Kigali city has grown very rapidly in 1962. Kigali is the political, economic, and cultural center of Rwanda and is a remarkably clean city. It’s a pleasant city scattered over several hills with enough to do to keep visitors occupied for a couple of days, and easy to walk around with plenty of bars, cafes, and restaurants for sustenance. The main residence and offices of the President of Rwanda are located in the city as well as the ministries. In 1994, Rwanda was the scene of a terrible genocide in which an estimated 500,000 to one million Tutsis and moderate Hutus in a period of 100 days were killed. The Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre was set up primarily as a memorial where 250,000 victims were buried in mass graves. Kigali is built on and between many hills, the highest of which, Mount Kigali, has an altitude of 1850 m above sea level.
Top things to do in Kigali
Climb Mount Kigali:
As a city with many hills, climbing one of them is a must during your stay. Mount Kigali is not actually a mountain but the tallest hill in Kigali. Mount Kigali is 6,000 feet high and to get to the summit, one needs to get to the starting point in Nyamirabo. The short hike will also take you through a lovely eucalyptus forest, a coffee plantation, and a series of rustic neighborhoods.
Getting to the summit rewards tourists with the best views of the entire city and is an excellent spot for group photos.
Visiting the Kigali Genocide Memorial
The Kigali genocide memorial center is one of the top 5 most visited sites in Rwanda. The memorial center was constructed to remember the gruesome scenes that occurred in 1994 when 250,000 You’ll start by watching a short documentary film about the Rwandan genocide before making your way through three permanent exhibitions, filled with artifacts, timelines, historical information, and photographs.
The main exhibit focuses on the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi and moderate Hutus. It explains how colonization affected Rwandan society and created divisions that previously didn’t exist between Hutus and Tutsis. Then, through displays of powerful photographs, artifacts, and audio-visual displays on dark, circular halls, the exhibit unveils the events that sparked the genocide, of 100 brutal days, heart-wrenching stories of survival, and rescue.
You’ll eventually make your way through the Children’s Room, which displays a gallery of life-size portraits of the youngest victims of the genocide, some of whom were infants.
The Children’s Room is dedicated to the memory of children killed in the Genocide against the Tutsi. This section remembers the thousands of children and infants slaughtered by genocidaires. It keeps the memory of the children alive through details about their favorite toys, sports, foods, songs, and more. The museum concludes with an exhibit on other genocides and massacres around the world, putting the Rwandan genocide into context and examining potential strategies for prevention and intervention.
After your visit, head outside to pay your respects to the victims in the Gardens of Reflection. The park-like setting offers the right atmosphere for quiet contemplation on everything you just saw.
A visit to the Kigali Genocide Memorial is not for the faint-hearted because you will see sorrowful images and videos of what happened during the genocide.
Local Motorbike tour
Also known as boda, motorcycles are arguably the most popular and convenient means of transport in Kigali Town. Motorbike transport in Rwanda is more formalized and organized. There are strong laws governing operators. For example, every rider has a designated station, protective headgear (for both the rider and passenger), and a limited carrying capacity. You can rent one for a self-ride or be taken for a city tour by one of the riders. Motorbike tours are excellent for exploring Kigali in a more personal way.
Visit Craft shops and Art Galleries
There are various art centers in Kigali including,
The Inema Arts Center hosts weekly dance performances, art-inspired yoga classes, gallery tours, and concerts. The center was founded in 2012 by brothers Emmanuel Nkuranga and Innocent Nkurunziza to bring Rwandan art to light. There are 13 artists in residence showcasing their work and lots of participatory activities like workshops and training are available.
Rwanda Art Museum is an institution housed in the former Presidential Palace on the outskirts of Kigali. It’s the only contemporary art museum in Rwanda. It showcases the breadth of local creativity, as well as works from international artists. The sprawling space displays more than 100 works of art, including ceramics, sculptures, paintings, and experimental pieces made in a variety of mediums.
Niyo Arts Gallery offers creative space for 17 artists in residence, who have expertise in everything from oil painting and graffiti art to Rwandan drumming and dancing. Tourists can see vibrant works displayed in rooms throughout the gallery, catch occasional performances, and enjoy meet-and-greets with the artists.
Ride a Horse
Horse riding is organized at Rugende Park and also Fazenda Sangha on Mount Kigali. Fazenda Sengha is an outdoor entertainment complex that offers activities such as horseback riding, zip-lining, archery, quad biking, bungee trampoline, pétanque, and more. Picnics can also be enjoyed in a lovely garden or patio surrounded by nature and overlooking the Nyabarongo Valley. Learners have to first go through lessons on the basics of jumping onto a horse and managing movement.
The Kigali Convention Centre
This Centre has an interesting beehive-like design which consists of shining glass and a powerful beam for the night. Most of the popular conferences are held at the Kigali Convention Centre. The Kigali Convention Centre has helped Rwanda become a venue for many international conferences. The Radisson Blu Hotel is an extension of the large Convention Centre.
Go to the local markets
The best way to experience the culture of the people of Kigali is to visit their local markets. The best markets in Kigali are Kimironko and Nyamirambo. These large markets are excellent for buying fruits, cereals, legumes, flour, spices, or vegetables. Apart from food, these markets also have shops dedicated to African fabrics, curios, and electronics.
Visit a coffee cooperative
Learn where coffee is grown and processed at a stopover at the Question Coffee Café Cooperative. This private coffee cooperative organizes tours of the coffee fields and factory. By the end of your visit, you will have learned how coffee is planted, harvested, processed, and packaged. Baristas serve a variety of specialty espresso beverages, pour-over coffee, and caffeinated drinks.
The Nyamirambo Women’s Centre
This center in the Rwandan capital supports women’s livelihoods while educating visitors about ongoing vocational projects like traditional cooking, craft making, computer literacy, fashion design, hairdressing, pedicure, and manicure. Guests can also take lessons in cooking or basket weaving and supporting the center is one way of empowering the vulnerable women in Kigali. Purchase beautifully printed tote bags, hand-woven baskets, patterned placemats, crocheted rugs, beaded jewelry, and local-inspired fashions.
Nyandungu Urban Wetland Eco-Tourism Park
The Nyandungu Eco-Tourism Park is located in the City of Kigali and was created as part of Rwanda’s efforts to restore and conserve ecosystems while promoting socio-economic development. The restoration of the Nyandungu Wetland saw the planting of 17,000 trees made up of 55 indigenous species. The park sits on 120 hectares and features a medicinal garden, a Papal Garden, whose name is derived from the historic visit by Pope John Paul II to Rwanda in 1990. There is also an information center, a restaurant as well as more than 8km of walkways and bicycle lanes and beautifully carved cement benches where you can relax and enjoy nature.
The initiative has also supported livelihood diversification to enhance incomes for local communities by creating approximately 4,000 green jobs. It also provides education and research opportunities for the visitors.
The Nyandungu Eco-tourism park is home to about 100 bird species, indigenous plants and trees, and several water basins named after popular lakes in Rwanda, including Muhazi, Kivu, Ruhondo, and Ihema.
Where to stay in Kigali City
Kigali Serena Hotel
The Kigali Serena Hotel is located next door to the Kigalia Cultural Village, within walking distance from Inzuki. This hotel boasts 148 rooms and other amenities including an in-house Maisha Health Spa, Maisha Health Club, an outdoor swimming pool, and a garden. The property provides a 24-hour front desk, airport transportation, a shared lounge, and free WiFi throughout the property. Dine in the hotel’s two restaurants, which serve a range of traditional Rwandan and international cuisine.
Kigali Marriott Hotel
The hotel comprises 254 air-conditioned rooms and suites that include floor-to-ceiling glass panels offering you breathtaking vistas of the city spread below you. There are 229 rooms and 25 suites such as the Deluxe Rooms, Club Floor Rooms, and Junior Suites for up to 3 guests. Larger families and groups of 4 members or more can opt for the Executive Suites and Presidential Suites. Additional amenities include flat-screen TVs, ergonomic workspaces, and complimentary Wi-Fi access for Marriott Bonvoy members. The Cucina Restaurant at Kigali Marriott serves innovative Italian cuisine, while the Lobby Bar is the place to unwind with a cocktail overlooking the city.
Radisson Blu Hotel & Convention Center Kigali
It is attached to the Kigali Convention Center, a building that has changed the Kigali city look. The beehive convention center building is illuminated at night with sparkling moving lights in the colors of the Rwandan flag, swirling around the facade and giving a sense of movement.
The convention center can accommodate 5,000 people. The entire complex is geared towards meetings and conventions and is ready to give business travelers everything they need. Located 5 km away from Kigali International Airport, the hotel has a selection of 292 rooms and suites well suited for premier tourists and business travelers. Choose from 209 Standard Rooms and 4 Accessible Rooms for special guests. The hotel also has 68 Business Rooms in addition to 5 Junior Suites, 5 Presidential Suites, and 1 exceptional Diplomat Suite. Each of the air-conditioned rooms and suites come with a private balcony that offers you stunning panoramic views of the green hills of Kigali. The hotel has an outdoor swimming pool, a garden, and a terrace as well.
The Hotel des Milles Collines
Hotel Rwanda, as most people know the Hotel des Milles Collines, was the first grand and luxury hotel to open in Kigali in 1973.
The hotel was the shelter to almost 1,300 Rwandans who sought refuge during the 1994 Rwandan Genocide and became the center stage of the moviereleased in 2004.
Hotel des Milles Collines is located up on a hill and has a conference center, large gardens with a pool, three restaurants, and a bar. The rooms have balconies and can come with fantastic views.
Heaven Boutique Hotel and The Retreat
This hotel has a unique set up of restaurant and retreat which combines art, crafts, great food, a boutique hotel, and a retreat. The retreat features an outdoor swimming pool, fitness center, and garden. The Retreat’s rooms are locally built with sustainable teak wood and feature patios and indoor/outdoor showers all decorated with local art. The Retreat is eco-friendly and runs on solar power. The accommodation offers a children’s playground. Guests at Heaven Restaurant & Boutique Hotel will be able to enjoy activities in and around Kigali like culinary, fashion, art, and walking tours.
Best Time to Visit
Visiting Rwanda for gorilla tracking can be done all year round. The best time to travel to Rwanda is during the drier seasons, periods between December to early March and June to September. December to March is a long dry season for Rwanda, with temperatures going up to 29 degrees Celsius for some days while the months of March – Mid May, July to September, on the other hand, are regarded as the rainy in the country
|Best time to go:||December to February and June to July (Dry seasons)|
|High Season:||June to September (More people visit Rwanda since it is the peak time for gorilla tracking)|
|Low Season:||March, April, May, October and November (A number of camps and lodges close)|
|Best Weather:||Mid-December to February (Less rainfall)|
|Worst Weather:||Mid-March to May and mid-August to November (High rainfall, roads can become impassable)|
Tailored Rwanda Safaris That Include Kigali City
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