Kigali is one of the safest and friendliest of African capitals and has a pleasant, moderate high altitude climate despite its tropical location.
Kigali has been the country’s capital city since 1965. Today it’s an attractive city built within hills and with a checkered history. Since the genocide in 1994, it has been reconstructed and now exudes an air of positiveness and growth.
The main shopping and commercial area is around the Hotel Mille Collines, known for providing shelter during the genocide and portrayed in the film Hotel Rwanda for the same reason. Kigali began life as a small, colonial outpost in 1907.
View across Kigali
Total population is around 1 million and rapidly growing. The youth make up about 60% of the population with just over 50% female. The city has 3 main districts Gasabo, Kicukiro and Nyarugenge although most visitors stay in the city centre.
It is worth staying in the city for a day or two; activities are numerous and includes the following:
- Richard Kandt’s House
- Old Kigali City – the inner city
- Nyamirambo – the section of Kigali city that never goes to sleep
- Kigali Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) – the military academy turned into an intellectual and technological centre
- Camp Kigali – another harsh reality of the country’s genocide: the site where the Belgian Blue Berets were killed at the onset of genocide;
- Radio Television Libre des Milles Collines – the seat of the Hate Radio
- Geological Museum – one-stop Centre where you can discover the country’s Minerals at a glance
- Kigali Memorial Centre(Gisozi) – an excellent memorial portraying the country’s Genocide
- Hero’s Cemetry
- Caplaki – a large centre for local crafts
- Dancing Pots – learn about the Batwa people and participate in a traditional pottery workshop and dancing
The city boasts some very up-to-date and luxurious hotels with a number of bed/breakfasts. There are excellent restaurants and a long lunch at one of them is a must! The entire city, despite its modernisation retains the feeling of being a garden city. The atmospheric Muslim quarter is well worth visiting as is a quick look around the excellent, modern suburbs. This is also the main entry and exit point for all flights in and out of the country.
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