Welcome to Rwanda
Rwanda is a landlocked East African country also known as the land of 1000 hills. Its highest point is Mount Karisimbi at 4507 metres and lowest is 950 metres. It is a part of Africa’s Great Lakes Region which is one of the richest regions of the continent in natural resources. The other countries which are part are the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya.
Kigali is the capital and largest city of Rwanda. It is considered one of the most modern and cleanest cities in the African continent. So much so that it has recently been nominated for the first edition of the Wellbeing City Award, an award that recognizes cities placing wellbeing at the centre of urban design and planning. Kigali has appeared in the Public Health category in it where it will be competing with cities like Gothenburg, Los Angeles and Vancouver.
When is the best time to visit Kigali?
Kigali is a beautiful and very clean city built on a high altitude with great weather almost throughout the year. When it’s hot everywhere, Kigali will be chill and calm even during the rainy or dry seasons Kigali will be green and clean. So all year round it’s a good city.
So in general, you can visit Kigali any time of the year. It is important to note that every month of April (precisely from the 7th to 14th) Rwanda commemorates the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi and during this period you will not be able to engage in all entertainment activities including bars, night clubs and all sorts of public entertainment activities.
How reliable is public transport in Kigali?
Public transport in Kigali is relatively reliable, safe and clean. If you are not in a hurry you can use the Kigali city buses which are really on time and clean. City buses use swipe cards too, so everything is a bit modernized and cashless. Swipe cards are prepaid so that you can keep checking the balance.
If you need a more personal transport means, there are plenty or taxi cabs parked in gazetted places or simply jump on a motorbike as it the most used means of transport by Kigalians
You can pay a motto guy using mobile money for example. Kigali is on Google maps and streets are numbered so finding you is very easy
What attractions can I visit in Kigali?
A Kigali city tour is non like any other, if you are not used to the place you may need to get a guide to be able to visit most of the attractions.
The Kigali city has public buses designed for travelers who want to do city tours and you can book your place through your guide or a friend who knows the operators.
You can as well do a personal city tour using your own means or simply get on a motorbike with your itinerary and your moto guy with take you places.
The visited places in Kigali range from community based associations, museums, markets, local restaurants, as well as the Kigali Genocide Memorial center.
What are must-visit places while in Rwanda?
Rwanda is globally famous for the mountain gorillas however, there is a lot more than just gorillas. The Volcanoes National Park (Parc National Des Volcans) is home to the worlds critical endangered mountain gorillas .Apart from being the only place with volcanoes, this Northern part of Rwanda is so contagious. You don’t feel like leaving every time you go there. Karisimbi volcano is the highest peak and an ideal spot for hikers.
After seeing gorillas you will be introduced to the Dian Fossey foundation that will show you an amazing woman who sacrificed her life to save these amazing creatures that share 99+% of DNA with human beings.
There are various accommodation options available in and around the park. Ranging from luxurious, eco-sensitive and budget, the famous and luxurious Bisate lodge that was recently shortlisted in the Global Ahead awards in ‘Lodges & Tented Camps’ category is considered as one of the world’s best new hotels. It focuses on Africa’s most immersive wild primate experience and has been.
Another must-visit is Kibuye currently known as Karongi, Karongi District, around 110 km from Kigali. It lies in the western stretch of Rwanda along Lake Kivu that touches Rwanda to the west and kissing the Democratic Republic of Congo to the West. It is just 1 hour’s drive away from Volcanoes national park and Gisenyi. This is a little heaven on earth for travellers who are looking for a place to breathe fresh air and connect with nature. It’s the Caribbean type of environment you will experience in Rwanda. It’s enchanting, it’s extremely gorgeous and one of Rwanda’s hidden nature paradise.
Once you return to Kigali, do not end your good time without visiting the famous Akagera National park that is home to the worlds big five, hundreds of other wildlife species as well as thousands of bird species for those that enjoy birding. This park is under the good management of the African parks initiative and has done a great job in terms of conservation as well as empowering the communities around the park in Eastern Rwanda.
Named after the Akagera River, this park is at the country’s border with Tanzania. Have a great time here by going on a wildlife game drive, fishing in Lake Shakani, boat safari on Lake Ihema or birding in the park
Which Local markets can I visit?
A visit to Kimironko market local markets is a must-do for all the local fresh fruits, crafts and local shopping experience
Kimironko market is one of the largest markets of Rwanda located in the outskirts of Kigali. All kinds of goods are sold here, from food to clothes to hardware. An added advantage is that it remains open every day of the week. To shop all you need is some patience and good negotiating skills. To know more about the Kimironko market
Where can I go for a local souvenir in Kigali?
Rwanda is among the African countries with a strong and rich culture, you will find souvenirs that are 100% Rwandan authentic. Examples are Imigongo made from cow dung and gorilla sculptures.
Imigongo art is a type of art that is made by making patterns using cow dung, mainly in the colours red, black and white. It is a popular art in the whole of Rwanda but it first started in the
Caplaki Crafts Village, Kigali.
Located in the Kiyovu neighborhood, Caplaki is an ideal destination for souvenir shopping. It is full of handmade fabrics, beads, baskets, carvings, ceramics and texture. It’s a great place for finding crafts from nearby countries too, all under one roof, however, almost the same items except maybe a few, can be found in Kimironko and at a much cheaper rate. Nevertheless, it’s worth a visit.
Farmers markets are organized periodically for resident foreigners especially who want to buy organic foods
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. Today, NWC’s mission is to provide education and vocational training to women who do not have the means to pay for such training on their own, so that they can gain better opportunities for employment.
Inema Arts Center is a collective of Rwandan creative artists. At its core, this provides space for 10 artists in residence to explore their creative talent.
Other community projects where you can buy local souvenirs include
- Azizi Life
- Kimironko Market
Hangout sports & nightlife in Kigali
- Bwok cafe bistro ( Nyarutarama & Kimihurura) one of a kind that has the best brunch around town at affordable prices.
- Poivre Noir, KN 14 Avenue Kimihurura. It has a cool and breezy atmosphere and that’s not all! It has the best burger and Belgian French fries around town. Pricy but worth it!
- Repub Lounge, 16 KG 674 st. Newly revamped bar with flowing cocktails, relaxed ambience and live music.
- Blackstone lounge. Kigali Business Centre KN 5 Road.
Enjoy their exotic cocktails as you have a clear view of the iconic Kigali Convention Centre, you go ahead and put your taste buds to work by trying their chicken Hawaiian pizza and you’ll be dazzled.
- Choma’D grill, KG 9 Nyarutarama. Do you love pork ribs? With a variety of meaty dishes, this is the place you should go to.
- Mamba’s club, KG 680 st , Kimihurura. If you love bowling, this is where you’ll have the best time of your life. With a variety of drinks and dishes of course!
- Papyrus Resto n Bar KG 624 st, Kimihurura
- L’ Épicurien restaurant and grill. 22 KG 674 St. They serve the best French & European cuisine in Kigali. Did I mention the very tasty Ostrich steak? Check them out
To those who have a sweet tooth, here comes a variety of coffee and pastry shops that serve the best delicacies ranging from Croissants to Pretzels.
NB: Vegans aren’t left out they have a variety to choose from.
- Question coffee, KG 8 Ave Gishushu, Kigali.
- Siloé cafe bistro, KG 169 St. in Remera.
- Brioche, Kigali.
How hard is it to move around if you do not know Kinyarwanda the local language?
Kigali is among the safest cities in the world and in Africa particularly. The crime rate is very low and the people are so welcoming and hospitable.
You will not experience a big challenge however, if you can get a guide it will be much easier to avoid challenges of the language barrier and others.
A good number of Rwandans you meet on the street will have some understanding of English or French which will ease your movements and accessing services and these are mostly motor riders, waiters and waitresses in restaurants and bars as well as well as public transport.
Can I get any transport or delivery Apps in Kigali?
Rwanda has seen a hike in technology and ICT related services and yes, there are delivery apps in Kigali among which Hello food, Vuba Vuba, Yego Moto, Safe Moto and many more.
In case you are in a hurry, you simply should move out and stop any moto rider and this still a common practice in Kigali and across the country
Murakoze….(Thank you in Kinyarwanda)
If you have any personal questions or you looking forward to visiting Rwanda, do not hesitate to contact Neza SAFARIS
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