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Kigali, Rwanda

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Kigali, City Center, Rwanda's capital City

Kigali, City Center, Rwanda's capital City

© Anouk Zijlma

Basic Facts about Kigali

Kigali is the capital city of Rwanda. Kigali is Rwanda's biggest city with a population of 850,000, it's also the commercial capital of the country. Kigali was founded by the Germans in 1907 but only became Rwanda's capital when the country became independent (from Belgium) in 1962. Kigali was at the center of the horrendous genocide that took place in 1994 which took the lives of 800,000 people and displaced many more in the space of just 100 days.

Since 1994, Kigali has slowly been rebuilt and income from tourism (mostly coming to see the gorillas) as well as numerous aid workers have buoyed the capital's economy. Kigali is a relatively safe and sophisticated small city, it has come a long way in a short time. Kigali is a pretty city which sprawls over several hills, its avenues are filled with flowering trees and it is surrounded by lush green mountains.

In Kigali you'll hear people speaking Kinyarwanda, English, and French.

Travel to Kigali

Kigali is often the first stop for tourists coming to see the gorillas in the Parc National Des Volcans (about 3 hrs drive from Kigali). Flights into the capital arrive from Brussels, Nairobi, Entebbe, Addis Ababa, Kilimanjaro, and Johannesburg. Tourists also arrive in Kigali by long-distance bus from Uganda. Kigali has a few interesting sights easily reached by taxi, they include:
  • Kigali Genocide Memorial Center contains a permanent exhibition of the genocide. The center is built on a site where over 250,000 people are buried.
  • Caplaki - market stalls where you can shop for woodcarvings, drums, baskets and ceramics. Prices start high, so be prepared to bargain.
  • The Dancing Pots - offers visitors a chance to buy some Batwa pottery and learn more about the Twa people.

Kigali Travel Resources

  • Recommended hotels: Hotel des Milles Collines (the actual Hotel Rwanda), an upscale choice and one of the best hotels in Kigali. Another good high-end hotel is the Kigali Serena. The Hotel Gorillas and Hotel Chez Lando are good mid-range options. The Lonely Planet Guide likes the Kigali Hotel for those on a budget.
  • Recommended restaurants: Aux Caprices du Palais for French cuisine; Addis Ethiopian for Ethiopian dishes; India Khazana (Tel: 08499600 ) and La Sierra for Indian food; and Sol e Luna for some Italian.
  • City Tours are offered for around $20 per person, check with your hotel for more information.

Sources and More Info

Rwanda Tourism Official Site
Wikitravel on Kigali
Kigali Restaurant Blog
Lonely Planet
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