The capital city of Rwanda, which is a landlocked country in the heart of Africa, is Kigali. This city is the perfect first stop to your Rwanda experience and should be seen on a private guided tour.
On a visit to this city, it may be surprising at how clean and beautiful this city is. There is less chaos here than any other major city in the Africa.
There is a sense of relaxation, peacefulness, friendliness, and order as you stroll the streets of the city centre. New buildings, paved streets, pothole less roads, working lights and honest policemen make you feel more comfortable when you are a tourist here.
Kigali is also the most liveliest and entertaining city found in Rwanda. There are wonderfully delicious restaurants which serve all varieties of mouth watering food from traditional to European cuisine. The hotels offer great accommodation, excellent facilities and a variety of different types of bars for nighttime entertainment. Read More...
The Most Sacred Place to See on a Sightseeing Tour Is Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre
The city of Kigali has much of offer culture and history wise. Unfortunately, Rwanda is known for the terrible genocide that happened against the Tutsi in 1994 where 100,000 Rwandans lost their lives. The Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre is a sightseeing tour that all tourists should do.
Learn the history of Kigali and Rwanda in the Richard Kandt House Museum of Natural History on a guided tour or venture to the Muslim Quarter of Nyamirambo to see another side of Kigali.
The markets in the city are the best places to visit even if you are not buying anything. They are lively and good fun and a great place to mingle with the very friendly locals.
Top 10 Things to Do in Kigali
Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre
When in Kigali, a very humbling and educational guided tour is to Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre. This is also the most sacred place to visit. This tour is not for anyone faint-hearted especially when visiting the children section. The displays, images and videos relating to the 100 days 1994 Genocide and the 100,000 Rwandans killed are harrowing but necessary to learn from so it never happens again.
Richard Kandt House Museum of Natural History
Take a guided tour of the Richard Kandt House Museum of Natural History. It was Richard Kandt, a German explorer, who founded Kigali back in 1907. It was also Mr. Kandt who spread the coffee plant all around Rwanda, Explore his former, restored, home and gardens before visiting the Rwanda Museum of Natural History which exposes the biological and geological diversity found in Rwanda, the Land of a Thousand Hills.
Presidential Palace Museum Kigali
A fascinating guided tour is that of the Presidential Palace Museum or President Habyarimana’s House. President of Rwanda, Habyarimana, was in a plane shot down while approaching Kigali and hence began the 100 1194 Genocide. A tour of the house will give you an insight into the man and his idiocracies such as a chapel where witchcraft rituals took place. His rule and his fanatical anti-Tutsi wife led to the Genocide.
Muslim Quarter of Nyamirambo on Guided Tour
Take a guided tour through the bright colored, sweet sounds and aromatic Nyamirambo. This is Kigali’s Muslim Quarter and on walking tours, you get taken to Arab-influenced homes where you can experience and learn how to cook traditional Rwandan foods, visit lively markets and enter a local mosque. It is also this part of town where you go at nighttime to the quaint pubs for mix with locals and other tourists.
Belgian Soldier Memorial Site
Another Memorial Site to see on a guided tour which relates to the 1994 Genocide is the Belgian Soldier Memorial Site. The grounds of the former military camp in Kigali is where it is located and it was unveiled by the Belgium government in 2000. This is a memorial to 10 Belgium soldiers who were cruelly killed on April 7th, 1994 while guarding the Rwandan Prime Minister Madame Agathe and her family who were also killed that day.
Hotel des Mille Collines - Hotel Rwanda
The movie Hotel Rwanda was based on Hotel des Mille Collines, the concierge Paul Rusesabagina, his family and the refugees who he hid and sheltered in this hotel during the 100 genocide. The hotel has undergone many facelifts and ownership since the happenings of 1994, but it is still a place to visit on a sightseeing tour or a place to possibly stay when in Kigali. This hotel will be synonymous with the Genocide.
Safari tour to Akagera National Park
From where Kigali is situated, you can easily do amazing daily Safari tours or one/ two-night safari tours in the magnificent Akagera National Park as it is only a little over 2 hours away from the city. There are many safaris to choose from such as the Game Drive Safari, bird watching safari, boat safari, primate safari, predator safari and nighttime safaris. Have great adventures seeing the spectacular wildlife and landscape.
Volcanoes National Park Gorilla Safari Tours
Volcanoes National Park is 2 hours and 30 minutes away from Kigali and it is here you can go on the experience of a lifetime, the Gorilla Tracking Safari Tour. Watch the gentle giants of the jungle in their natural habitat getting on with life. There are many other safari tours to do in this national park such as the Golden Monkey, the Dian Fossey Tombs, Mount Bisoke and Karisimbi and a Cultural Village.
Horseback Riding Tours Kigali
Take a horseback riding tour exploring the hills and villages on the outskirts of Kigali for something different. These tours are great fun and full of excitement for young and old. The trails you take bring you through varied countryside which has the most breathtaking views and landscape. You are given some horse riding lessons for those who have never ridden before and an experienced rider is with you at all times.
Markets and shopping in Kigali
There are excellent shopping facilities in the modern shopping malls which are great in Kigali. However, the only way to shop especially for souvenirs and crafts is in the markets which are held all over the city. On a sightseeing tour, you will come across at least one. These markets are great fun, the vendors are very entertaining and the craftwork is exceptional the majority of the time.
Travel Tips for Kigali
Best Time To Visit Kigali
It is possible to visit Kigali at any stage throughout the year, but generally, it is said that June and July are the best months. This is the tail end of the the rainy season and the start of the long dry season. December to February is also known as a short dry season which is also a good time or sightseeing tours. The temperatures vary little in Rwanda due to its closeness to the equator. The average temperature in Kigali is 21 degrees Celsius.
Typical Costs in Kigali
The prices in Kigali are great for tourists as it is relatively cheap for accommodation and guided tours. To eat out in the city, the prices vary from place to place. In a traditional restaurant you can get a meal for 2 people for US$20, but in an Italian restaurant, it can cost approximately US$55 for 2. These meals are both 3 courses with wine. Cafe’s for a cappuccino or beer are excellently priced. A nights accommodation starts from US$15
Know Before Visiting Kigali
Things to know when you are visiting Kigali, if you are planning trip during the month of April, the 7th April is national genocide memorial day and the city more of less shuts down the week prior. Bars, restaurants and radio stations are not allowed to play music unless its traditional mourning songs. When on guided tours of the city, do not stray from the group. It is not compulsory to tip but nice to do when service was good.
Weather in Kigali
The temperatures in the city of Kigali are always high and vary very little throughout the year. August is the hottest month on average at temperatures of 28 degrees Celsius and the coldest month is usually May at temperatures of 23 degrees Celsius. The most rainfall is in February to April and October to early December with April being the wettest. The driest month is July. However, climate change is having an effect of the weather in Rwanda.