Kigali, Rwanda

The capital of eternal spring – this is the best way to describe Kigali, nestled among the velvety green hills of central Rwanda. This is a European-style clean, tidy and soulful city where you want to stay, if not forever, then at least for a long time, since there are all the prerequisites for this: there is a very good selection of hotels, restaurants and nightclubs. Fans of contemplative relaxation will be attracted by the picturesque surroundings of Kigali, and eco-tourism enthusiasts will be delighted with the proximity of national parks with exclusive mountain gorillas and other pan-African wildlife.

How to get to Kigali

From Moscow to Kigali can only be reached with transfers, there are no direct flights. Among the flight options are flights of KLM airlines (with a change in Amsterdam), Emirates (in Dubai), Brussels Airlines (in Brussels). Most often, the plane lands for refueling in Nairobi, from where it takes only 25 minutes to fly to Kigali. In addition, you can focus on Nairobi, the main connecting hub of the region, and from there fly to Kigali by flights of regional carriers Kenya Airlines and Rwandair. Prepare to spend at least 15 hours on the road.

According to wholevehicles, Kigali International Airport (Aeroport Kigali Kanombe) is located in the suburbs of the capital, Kanombe, 14 km from the city center. You can take a taxi from the airport to the city (this is one of the few places in the city where you can find them). The trip will cost approximately 12,000 RWF.

Transport in the city

The most popular form of transport in Kigali is a motorcycle taxi. A good fellow in a green vest and a helmet riding a moped will famously pick you up and drive you to your destination at a frighteningly unaccustomed speed, taking mere pennies for the trip – from 300 to 600 RWF within the city. A motorcycle helmet offered upon boarding can serve as a certain guarantee of passenger safety.

Another option is minibuses scurrying through the streets of the city. Destinations are marked on the windshield, but it is better to check with the driver once again. To stop the car, just wave your hand. Minibuses will also be useful when traveling outside of Kigali, they run throughout the country. The cost is slightly lower than in a motorcycle taxi.

Cuisine and restaurants

Kigali has plenty of eateries, buffet bars and international restaurants to suit every need and budget. You can taste national fast food in “melanges” – establishments offering visitors a “buffet” of a variety of salads, potatoes, cassava, bananas, rice, as well as fish, meat and chicken. Lunch will cost from 700 to 7000 RWF, depending on the pathos of the melange.

Fans of more substantial meals will find a large selection of restaurants serving Rwandan, African, Indian, Chinese and Mediterranean cuisines. Count on the cost of a meal starting from 7000 RWF.

Do not ignore the delicious freshly squeezed juices from tropical fruits – in Kigali they are sold everywhere and cost a penny.

Shopping and stores

Kigali has a large number of shops where you can buy handicrafts, souvenirs and various interesting Rwandan gizmos. We recommend visiting the Kaplaki Market (formerly located on Avenue de l’Armee and recently moved to a private building). It sells wood products, decorated with carvings, national baskets and lids for dishes, mats, rugs, masks and paintings. We recommend bargaining: the initial prices are quite high.

Another place literally stuffed with traditional products is the Cooperative des Artisans Rwandais, located in the very center of Kigali, not far from the central post office.

Crafts of forest dwellers – Twa pygmies (mainly ceramics) are sold in a shop with a telling name Dancing Pots.

At Gahaya Links Gifted Hands Center you will find an impressive selection of national agaseke baskets. For something special, head to the handicraft boutique next to the Republika Lounge. Here you can buy good paintings and stylish interior items. Paintings can also be purchased at Bushayija, Ivuka Arts and Inganzo Art Galleries.

Twa pygmy crafts (mostly ceramics) are sold at Dancing Pots at The Forest Peoples’ Project office.

A good selection of Rwandan history books and excellent photo albums are available at Librerie Ikirezi and Librerie Caritas bookstores.

The Kigali City Tower Mall is due to open in Kigali in the very near future. More than 60 stores of European and African brands of clothing, footwear, perfumes and accessories will be located here. On the last, eighteenth, floor there will be a restaurant – a nightclub.

Entertainment and attractions of Kigali

The National Tourism Office of Rwanda offers tourists an organized bus tour of Kigali lasting 3 hours. Groups depart daily at 8 am and 2 pm. Much attention is paid to the Memorial Center, historical buildings and the modern city under construction. Such a tour is a good way to learn more not only about the capital, but also about the country as a whole: the guides speak good English and are very educated. Cost — 20 USD; minimum – 4 people.

Created to commemorate the 1994 genocide in which nearly a million Tutsi Rwandans were exterminated, the Kigali Memorial Center is an extensive museum displaying written testimonies and photographs of survivors, official documents and other exhibits, including the clothing of the slain. It is shocking to realize that this tragedy happened some 15 years ago, in front of the eyes of the world community.

Also worth visiting are the Museum of Natural History, located on the estate of the first German settler in Rwanda, and the Geological Museum, where you can see a rich collection of local minerals.

Kigali, Rwanda