Offering plenty of accommodation options, lots of things to see and do, and easy access to safari areas, Kigali provides a superb base for stopovers and longer stays alike.
Kigali is located in the province of Kigali City. Since achieving capital city status in 1962, it has become Rwanda’s cultural and economic hub. It’s the centre for transport too.
In 1884–85, the Berlin Conference was held, with the aim of regulating European colonisation in Africa. One of its outcomes was that Rwanda was placed under German control. Kigali was established in 1907 by Richard Kandt, a German administrator, physician, and keen explorer! Come 1916, Belgium took charge of Rwanda, and this remained the case until the country achieved independence in 1962. Kigali witnessed ferocious fighting between the Hutu-dominated army and mostly Tutsi Rwandan Patriotic Front during the 1994 Rwandan genocide, but recovered throughout subsequent years. Today the city is thriving, renowned for being clean and safe.
Activities in Kigali
History buffs can visit the Kigali Genocide Memorial and Camp Kigali’s Belgian Monument, also known as the Belgian Peacekeepers Memorial. The latter comprises a round area with ten stone columns, a structure riddled with bullets, and a small museum. Each column marks the spot where a member of the Belgian peacekeeping force was murdered in 1994. If you’re interested in natural history, we recommend a trip to the Kandt House Museum, which showcases the flora and fauna of Rwanda’s national parks. There’s an exhibition of live reptiles too! Another museum worth considering is situated at the Presidential Palace, to the east of the city. Authentic cultural experiences are also available, through tours of local villages such as Bwiza and Agahozo-Shalom. Arts enthusiasts will love Niyo Arts Gallery, Inema Arts Center, Caplaki Craft Village, and many other arts venues throughout the city and surrounds. And keen golfers can enjoy a few rounds at Kigali’s golf course, a scenic location that’s popular with birds!
Time/s of year to travel to Kigali
If you’re passing through Kigali on your way to or back from Volcanoes, Akagera, or Nyungwe Forest, the timing of your trip here will depend on when you wish to go on safari. Please take a look at the ‘When To Visit’ chart we provide for each park’s page. The city tends to host its festivals during the northern summer months, such as Rwanda’s film festival and fashion events in July. However, September sees the Hobe Rwanda Festival, an exhilarating celebration of art, dance, and music!
Top tips in Kigali
Our favourite properties in Kigali are Heaven Boutique Hotel and The Retreat, both perfectly positioned for exploring the city. If you’d like just a short transfer from the international airport, we recommend Kigali Serena Hotel. All options offer accommodation to suit all types of traveller.
For more information about staying in Kigali, please get in touch with a member of the YZ team.