Sightseeings and the City of Kigali
Kigali is the capital city of Rwanda. It is a modern city with well maintained infrastructure and a fast developing skyline of high rising modern buildings. The city is built on beautiful green highlands which characterize much of Rwanda’s landscape. Kigali City is especially very popular for her impeccable cleanliness, orderliness and safety, attributes that miss in most African cities and even many of the world’s big cities.
If you are visiting Rwanda for just the gorilla trekking in Rwanda and chimpanzee trekking Nyungwe forest, or may be coming for business, you will find adding a day tour of Kigali city very rewarding as the city has a number of places to see and many things do. Many of these are actually free.
Top places to visit and things to do in Kigali
Kigali Genocide Museum
The museum is built at the burial site of 250,000 victims of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi. The museum contains documentation of the genocide and one has to visit this place to learn about Rwanda’s recent tragic history if one is to appreciate the immense progress the country has achieved to date, in terms of reconciliation and development. The museum also contains examples of other genocides in the world. It thus seeks to provide a vital lesson on what blind hate can cause. The museum is free to visit and you can walk through it on your own. There is an audio guide if you want one but for a fee of $15. Allow at least 2 hours for the visit.
For more on the happenings of the genocide you can add visits to other museums in Kigali covering incidences pivotal to the genocide
- Camp Kigali: commemorates the massacre of 10 Belgium UN Blue Berets on the first of the day of the genocide
- Presidential Palace Museum: This is the residence of the former President of Rwanda, Habyarimana, whose plane was shot down on 6th April to spark the genocide. The place contains the flight debris from the shot plane
- Campaign Against Genocide Museum: This new museum documents the heroics of the RPA (Rwanda Patriotic Army) led by President Kagame that fought to stop the genocide and has built Rwanda from the ashes into one of the most progressive countries in Africa.
Umusambi Village Nature Reserve
Umusambi Village is Kigali’s premier wildlife sanctuary and nature reserve. It is located on the outskirts of Kigali City along the Kigali – Rwamagana highway which is also the route to Akagera National Park, Rwanda’s savannah park. Umusambi Village is the place to go in Kigali if you want to experience nature and tranquility. It is a restored wetland that was purposely established to rehabilitate rescued Grey Crowned Cranes and is home to up 70 cranes. The reserve has a neat trail network that provides access to the swamp, bushes, grasslands and woodland areas. For the keen birder it is an excellent spot as the wetland has more than 100 bird species.
Nyandungu Eco-tourism Park
Nyandungu Eco-tourism Park is also established from a restored wetland in Kigali City. The 121.7 hectares of wetland and forest park has a neat 10km trail of walking and cycling trails providing a nice nature experience as you walk or cycle through the different habitats of the eco-park. For the birders, this is another exciting place in Kigali where one can spend a full day on the birding trail ticking off lots of local species. About 100 bird species are said to inhabit Nyandungu wetland. May be you just want to have a meal in different environment away from the hustle of the city hotels and restaurants? The park has a classy restaurant where you can enjoy a meal while taking in the nice views of ponds and bushes teeming with birdlife. Read more about Nyandungu Eco Park
Nyamirambo Women’s Center
The Nyamirambo Women’s Center is a cooperative by local women which offers skills to other women in the area as a way of uplifting them economically and socially. The center teaches basket weaving, handcraft making, cooking, computer literacy, sewing, etc… You can visit the center to see a variety of handcrafts made by the women, or you can book to join a class of some activities such as cooking local dishes and weaving.
The Nyamirambo Women’s Center also organizes a Nyamirambo walking tour. Nyamirambo is one of the most vibrant suburbs of Kigali. This is a great tour to discover the way of life of the local Rwandans living in the suburbs. You will check out the local markets, the local businesses, chat the locals along the way. At the end of the walking tour you can be hosted for a lunch at one of the local residents of Nyamirambo, this is if you started the tour in the morning. The walking tour is normally done as a half day experience starting in the morning, so allow up to 3 hours.
Kigali Car Free Zone
In the center of the hustle and bustle of Kigali City in Nyarugenge District is a car free zone which is a stretch covering an entire street. It is a pedestrian only stretch and it is lovely to walk, take a rest or buy souvenirs from craft shops. Often there will be exhibitions and entertainment on the weekend hence a nice place to check out while on your visit to Kigali.
This is the biggest and busiest market in Kigali where almost everything is sold from foodstuffs, fabrics to clothing. This is an economic landmark which should not miss out on your Kigali day tout itinerary. You have your measurements taken by a skillful tailor and get a colorful African wear made for you in a matter of hours.
Kaplaki Handicrafts market
This is a large crafts market and it is the place to visit if you are looking to purchase your handcraft souvenirs
Hiking Mount Kigali – highest point in Kigali (1850m)
You go on a hike on the highest point of Kigali and enjoy panoramic views of the city. Could take you about 2 hours, starting the hike from the Nyambirambo suburb. You could also just drive to the summit.
Kigali Conventional Center
The convention center has become an icon of Kigali City. It has an intriguing design of the Rwandan traditional agaseke basket and has different color themes every night. It is such a spectacle at night and a must see.
Old and New Kigali
Kigali has a plan of what they want the city to look, and there is already a new Kigali that is developing to take the old Kigali. So crossing between the new and old Kigali gives you a picture of what Kigali has been and what it will be in the next decade.
Kigali Golf course
If you are a golf player, the Kigali Golf Club is one of the most beautiful courses you can play on. A 9-hole gof course, it is situated in a lush environment near Lake Nyarutarama . You can also visit simply to enjoy the scenery. You can combine a visit the golf club with the lake.
For nature lovers, this is a little lake situated near the golf club. The lake is surrounded with bush and woodland and the bird lovers it offers a good birding opportunity in Kigali.
Roof top restaurant at Ubumwe Grande Hotel
The roof top restaurant commands panoramic views over Kigali. Visit the restaurant for dinner or lunch and enjoy the breathtaking views of Kigali’s cityscape
For the art lovers, Kigali has a range of art galleries for you to savor. Inema Art gallery is the most popular and if you are to include an art gallery in your Kigali day tour then this is one of the highly recommended galleries.