TWNP Travel Desk
The truth: Kigali, Rwanda’s vibrant capital city is often just a stopover point for tourists visiting Virunga National Park to track gorillas or those heading towards Gisenyi or branching off towards Akagera National Park.
The reality: Kigali with its wide, tree-lined streets, has a lot to offer in terms of history and culture and besides being surprisingly clean and charming, Kigali is a delightful blend of French and African influence and can easily satisfy the foodie, the history buff or a mere passerby.
Here is what you can do in 24 hours if you ever find yourself in this city.
8.am: Start with a hearty breakfast (with a view of course) at Java House, Kigali Heights overlooking the African-inspired Convention Centre, the colourful Radisson Blu and the fountain. The cafe opens early (7 am) and does a great breakfast.
9 am: Head out to the famous Kimironko Market and watch the entire city converge in this bustling market looking for locally produced fresh fruit and vegetables, fish, meat, spices and pulses, bargaining Franc by Franc to be had. Stock up on fresh fruits for the day here, at bargain prices or simply watch how transactions take place here. The Kimironko Market (covered market) is the largest in Kigali and there is not a thing you cannot find here.
11 am: Pay a visit to the Genocide Museum. There are many genocide sites around Rwanda, but this one is right in the centre of the city. There is no entrance fee (you can of course leave a small donation). This site is the resting place for over 250,000 victims of the 1994 genocide.
1.30 pm: Eat a Rwandese buffet lunch at one of the many restaurants in the city. This meal primarily consists of G-Nut sauce, sweet potatoes (steamed), cassava, steamed banana (matooke), beans, ugali, chicken or beef (with sauce), a green vegetable, rice (pilav) and fried potatoes. Priced between RF 2500 -4500K, depending on where you eat, this meal is wholesome and filling. If you are worried about carbs, then, remember you will be doing a lot of walking in the city.
3 pm: Caplaki Crafts Village is the place you can shop to your hearts content (and work off those carbohydrates from lunch). Local craftsmen display their wares here – from masks and wooden carved artefacts, baskets, beads, to jewellery, everything can be found here.
4 pm: Inema Arts is a new entrant to the Kigali’s art scene (founded in 2012) is has become the symbol of Rwanda’s art scene and creative expression.
5 pm: Moto ride of the city: Enjoy the golden hour on a moto! A moto ride through Kigali is the best way to feel the city. Drive through the wide sweeping streets lined with jacaranda trees, going from one hill to another, enjoying sweeping views of the valleys at every turn. Motos are cheap, efficient and reliable and can be found everywhere.
6 pm : Hotel des Mille Collines is Rwanda’s landmark hotel and played an important role in the 1994 genocide. Tourists arrive by the hundreds – if only stare at the hotel or photograph it. The views from this hotel are fantastic. Spend a quiet evening by the pool, and watch the sun go down over a cup of coffee. Panorama – the fourth floor restaurant (opens at 6 pm) offers some seriously magical views of the city.