Top 5 things to do in Kigali
Whilst tourism in Rwanda is centred around the mountain gorillas in the Volcanoes National Park, its capital, Kigali, is full of history and culture that many visitors are keen to learn about and explore. Our Rwanda itineraries all include a day or night in Kigali and rightly so! Here are a couple of things to visit and see in the city…
Kigali Memorial Centre
It is estimated around 250,000 people are buried at the Kigali Memorial Centre, all of whom were a result of the horrific Rwandan genocide that took place in the mid-ninties. The centre, which you should dedicate a couple of hours to, is not only a powerful reminder of the tragic event that took place only 23 years ago, but is also a landmark reminding us of how far the country has moved on together, and how important educating younger generations in Rwanda is.
Hotel des Mille Collines
Hotel des Mille Collines was a hotel that served as a refuge during the Rwandan genocide and was featured, and made famous in the 2004 film Hotel Rwanda. With 112 rooms, the hotel is quite large and offers a variety of facilities such as a swimming pool, a fitness suite, a restaurant with international cuisine and a cocktail lounge. Whether you are staying at the hotel or not, it’s worth popping in for a drink to say you have visited Rwanda’s most memorable hotel.
Inema Art Centre
Opening in 2012 by brothers and self-taught painters Emmanuel and Innocent, Inema is today a centre to showcase the work and opportunities of local Rwandan artists. Specialising in contemporary African paintings, crafts, sculptures, music and dance, Inema is a place of creativity and inspiration for younger generations. Art work can be purchased and internationally shipped home, but can also be simply observed and admired so if you are keen to see the talent of Rwandan artists, definitely check it out.
Explore the streets of Kigali
Compared to many African cities and capitals, the streets of Kigali are unusually clean. This is a result of ‘umuganda’ - a mandatory community service day at the end of every month, where the people of Kigali come together to clean their beloved city by cutting the grass, trimming bushes, repairing public facilities or by simply clearing litter on the streets. It’s worth walking round with a guide to take in the local vibe and beauty of Kigali.
State House Museum
The State House Museum is the former Presidential Palace and allows visitors to learn about the history and events leading up to the genocide. From here, visitors can even see the remaining wreckage from Juvenal Habyarimana’s presidential plane that was shot down in 1994. He was nicknamed "Kinani", a Kinyarwanda word meaning "invincible".