Kigali is the capital city of Rwanda, roughly in the center of the country. It sprawls across numerous hills, ridges and valleys, and has a vibrant restaurant and nightlife scene. The Kigali Genocide Memorial documents the 1994 mass killings in Rwanda, associated with the country’s civil war. The city’s Caplaki Crafts Village has stalls selling traditional handicrafts, including woodcarvings and woven baskets. These art and crafts are much loved by tourists on their tours in Rwanda, experiencing the primates, wildlife and culture.
Visit Art Centers, Crafts Shops and art galleries: A visit to African cities is incomplete without visiting one of the art/craft shops. The people of Rwanda love art and if you are looking for evidence, then visit their homes and sitting rooms. The Inema Art Center is the best art Centre in Kigali.
The Centre now houses about 13 of the country’s best artists as well as international guest artists. It is the place to go to if you are interested in beautiful African sculptures and paintings. It is possible to witness the artists at work or learn dancing and drumming skills.
The centre also arranges yoga classes for visitors and has a bar that opens on Thursday allowing visitors to listen to music as they marvel at the art collections. For the best Jewelry collection, check out the popular Abraham Konga Collections. Konga uses discarded materials to create high quality earrings and necklaces.
Go Kigali Boutique within the Marriot Hotel has got high quality jewelry, shoes and books. You can also find baskets, clothes and a nice map of Kigali at Go Kigali Boutique. For a cheaper jewelry and other household items, why not visit the Sarah Day Design located a few meters away from the boutique at the Nyamirambo Women’s Centre.
The Kigali Convention Center: The Center is built next to the famous Radisson Blu Hotel. The Kigali Convention Centre is one of the prominent places in Kigali. It was built in the shape of a beehive with beautiful lights that look amazing in the night. It is said that the architect was inspired by the King’s palace in Nyanza, which has a similar design.
The local markets: The best way to learn about the culture of a country is to visit the local markets. From the market, you can know their favorite food and how they interact.
Kimironko Market is arguably the largest local market in Kigali. It is built away from the city centre and has the best collection of fresh vegetable, fruits, species and flours. Apart from food stalls, the market has several electronics, clothes and other craft shops. You can find local Rwandan fabrics with bright colors ready to be bought and sewed into a skirt, top or dress for small fee.
The other major market is the Nyamirambo market. This market is more spacious allowing you to mingle with the locals as you get to know about their products. Most Rwandans speak Kinyarwanda and a bit of French. It is important to move with a guide whenever you visit these markets to help you with translation where necessary.
Watching Movies or visiting the Night Clubs: The night life in Kigali is filled with activity. Century Cinema located right at the city centre is Kigali’s main movie theater. They show the latest blockbusters (some before official release from the US) in 3-D and 5-D with great motion, special effects and surround sound. The Goethe-Institut and Korean Embassy show German and Korean movies (themed) respectively on certain days of the week.
The Kigali Public Library: If you love reading books and knowledge, then the new Kigali public library is one place you should visit. The library offers a serene environment with a collection of electronic and physical books. Individuals are free to access the library computers, use the internet or watch documentaries on a large projector while drinking Rwanda coffee served from the Shokola Storytellers Cafe in one of the floors. To take a book home, one needs membership. If one is interested in buying books about Rwanda then they can visit the Ikirezi bookshop.
Visiting the Kigali Genocide Memorial: Whereas Kigali and Rwanda now represent many of the good things about a new and fast changing Africa, the people had to watch as one of the worst genocides in history occurred in 1994. The Kigali Genocide Memorial is built to honor about 200,000 victims of the genocide but also to remind people about the atrocities committed so that it never occurs again. As upsetting as it can be, visiting this memorial centre will give you an insight of what transpired while also helping you appreciate the current achievements of the.
From the exhibitions, you will learn about the overall history of Rwanda, her colonization and other factors that set the stage for the horrific slaughter. At the site, you will see mages of young children slaughtered mercilessly by the Interahamwe. The Kigali Genocide Memorial goes beyond Rwanda to make you understand the other great atrocities committed by mankind around the world. The third exhibition shows the great atrocities by the Nazis during the Holocaust, the genocides in Armenia and Cambodia. Spare about 2 hours to see all the videos and listen to the audio recordings.
Visit the main city museums: The Museum of Natural History is the best museum in Kigali and was built with the purpose of documenting the beauty of Rwanda. The northern wing of the museum showcases Rwanda’s animal and bird life as well as the beautiful volcanoes. The Southern Wing on the other hand dwells on the country’s mineral riches. You can learn how much all these have contributed to the wealth of the country.
Visit Hotel des Mille Collines one of the best hotels in Kigali. This is the hotel that was featured in the 2004 movie “Hotel Rwanda”. Many people took refuge in the hotel during the genocide in 2004. The hotel managers saved over 1,000 people by hiding them in the hotel rooms. Hotel des Mille Collines is a large luxury hotel with 112 rooms. It has a fitness centre, swimming pool, and a restaurant serving intercontinental dishes. Even though you are not a resident in the hotel, you can still pay a visit to the hotel. No tours are allowed and there are no visible displays to show the role it played during the genocide.
The Gaddafi Mosque: The Gaddafi mosque is an impressive structure in Nyamirambo. It wasn’t built by the former Libyan leader but is referred to him by name in recognition of a road that he built passing close to the mosque. The Islamic Cultural Center is the official name of the mosque but people in Rwanda don’t use that name. The mosque also has a community center, a school and clinic that serve the people of Nyamirambo.
Go jogging or walking: A beautiful Kigali city with its beautiful hills can be explored by walking or jogging. The walk can be done both during the day and at night. The streets of Kigali are free of criminals and are well-lit. You can walk along the valleys of Nyarutarama and Kacyiru and also behind MTN’S main centre near Kibagabaga. If you want to walk in an area with many people, then you can go to Nyamirambo. For those who love jogging, Kigali’s hills may prove daunting but if you can persist and reach the top, expect to be rewarded with magnificent views of the city. The area around the Kimihurura roundabout has more level ground and is a favorite for other walkers and joggers.