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Kigali

Travel Guide Africa Rwanda Kigali

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Introduction

Sunset over Kigali

Sunset over Kigali

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Kigali is the capital and also the largest city in Rwanda. It has about 900,000 inhabitants and the city is located in the central part of the country at an altitude of between 1,300 and 1,600 metres. Kigali has been the economic and cultural heart of the country since it became capital at independence in 1962. It also functions as the main transport hub for Rwanda. Compared to many other African cities, it is a pleasant and safe place with decent hotels, restaurants and transport to other parts of the country as well as internationally. It is also a good place to arrange your permit when you want to go visit the mountain gorillas in the northeast of the country.

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Sights and Activities

  • Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre Though the centre gives a somewhat impartial view of the Rwandan genocide, it captures the horror of what happened. An exhibit gives details of other genocides in the world, prompting the question - will we ever learn?
  • Several museums

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Weather

Because of its elevation the climate is surprisingly moderate and less humid than other places in low lying areas. Temperatures are usually around 6 °C to 9 °C degrees lower compared to sea level temperatures so temperatures over 28 °C are not very common. The longer wet period lasts from February to May and April is the wettest month with almost 200 mm of rain. A shorter wet period lasts from late October to early December with November being the second wettest month.

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Avg Max26.9 °C27.4 °C26.9 °C26.2 °C25.9 °C26.4 °C27.1 °C28 °C28.2 °C27.2 °C26.1 °C26.4 °C
Avg Min15.6 °C15.8 °C15.7 °C16.1 °C16.2 °C15.3 °C15 °C16 °C16 °C15.9 °C15.5 °C15.6 °C
Rainfall76.9 mm91 mm114.2 mm154.2 mm88.1 mm18.6 mm11.4 mm31.1 mm69.6 mm105.7 mm112.7 mm77.4 mm
Rain Days111115181321410171714

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Getting There

By Plane

Kigali International Airport (KGL) near the capital receives all international flights and several domestic flights as well. Rwandair Express is the national airline of Rwanda. International flights include those to and from Bujumbura, Entebbe, Johannesburg, Kilimanjaro and Nairobi. Several other airlines from neighbouring countries have flights as well, and from Europe the only direct connections are from Brussels with Brussels Airlines.

Domestic services with Rwandair Express include flights between Kigali and Cyangugu and Gisenyi.

By Bus

Hourly (express) buses go literally everywhere in the country, with the main connections being from Kigali to Cyangugu, Gisenyi (via Musanze (aka Ruhengeri)) and Huye (aka Butare). Buses to Gisenyi cost RWF2,300 (June 2009) and take about 3.5 hours. Buses to Huye (aka Butare) cost RWF1,800 (June 2009) and take a little over 2 hours.

Internationally, buses travel between Kigali and Kampala in Uganda (8 hours), Nairobi in Kenya (24 hours) and Dar es Salaam in Tanzania (36 hours). Buses to Cyangugu and Gisenyi sometimes travel onwards to the cities of Bukavu and Goma respectively, in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

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Getting Around

By Public Transport

A boda boda (motorbike) ride within the town should cost RWF300-400 (June 2009).

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Eat

By far the best restaurant in Kigali is Heaven. It serves creative and well-prepared American and continental main dishes, and has an amazing dessert menu. There's a full bar and an unusually comprehensive wine list for this part of the world, with prices comparable to those at a Western restaurant of equivalent quality. Omnivores and vegetarians will both be happy here; there's a good selection of dishes for both, and, unlike most Rwandan restaurants, the servers actually listen to requests to remove meat from dishes that usually contain it. Furthermore, the menu states that the Heaven management makes an effort to hire people who've been orphaned by HIV or the genocide, and who are supporting their own families, so eating here supports a social good as well. Heaven is quite close to the Kigali centreville, at No. 5, Rue du Mont Juru, which is three streets downhill from the Mille Collines hotel. Call +250 0848 6581 for directions.

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Sleep

Budget

PropertyAddressTypePopularity
Discover Rwanda Youth HostelKigaliHostel79
  • Auberge La Caverne, on Blvd de Nyabugogo, is a decent option, offering double en suite rooms (with slightly warm water) from RWF10,000. There is also a bar and restaurant.

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Keep Connected

Internet

The best Internet cafe is the one in the Post Office complex, costing RWF400 per hour (June 2009).

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

Post

The poste restante service in Kigali is not 100% guaranteed. Office national des postes is the company responsible for postal service in Rwanda. Post offices are generally open from 8:00am to noon and 2:00 to 4:00pm, though regional variations apply. The one in Kigali generally keeps longer hours. Check with your accommodation for other options to send letters and postcards, as shops or hotels might sell stamps as well and can help you to post things. Services are fairly reliable though slow and for sending parcels it might be a good idea to check options with companies lik DHL, TNT, UPS or FedEx.

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This is version 6. Last edited at 0:50 on Jan 24, 12 by sleepBot. 20 articles link to this page.

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