First Impression: The hills, the air, the cleanliness! Kigali is unlike any other East African city I’d been to. People were so polite and respectful, all cordial smiles rather than the usual “Hey, Muzungu!”
Where I stayed: We stayed at 2000 Hotel for the first two nights before heading to the DRC. I would stay there again just simply for their breakfast. The rooms were clean, basic but nice and big for 2 people and the view of the city was great.
What to wear:Like all East African countries, its best to keep your knees and err on the side of conservatism but I wore a camisole dress over leggings and carried a light cardigan as it did get a bit chilly in the shade. At night I recommend a sweater, especially of you’re going to be taking motorcycle taxis.
What I did: Drank Mutzig beer, ate delicious food and wandered around a lot! We went to Kimironko market and Inema Arts Center, The Genocide Memorial (heartbreaking but a must see), I recommend decompressing at their café with an “African Iced Coffee”.
Eat Nyama Choma at The Executive Car Wash, dance at Papyrus nightclub on Friday night after eating Cassava Ugali at Republica Restaurant and Lounge. Have coffee at Question Coffee, they roast their own beans to perfection.
- Motorcycle taxis are the best way to get around the city.Usually a lift should cost between 1-2000 francs.
- Don’t carry plastic bags into the country and be mindful of your trash.
- Canadians must apply for a visa online. I exited to the DRC and came back so I had to apply for a single entry and upon re-entry I got the T12 East African visa because we were going to Uganda and Kenya after. Even though the T12 says multiple entry-if you leave the T12 zone it nullifies your visa, hence the initial single entry.
- Kigali is so safe and wonderful; I would move there in a heartbeat so try to spend a few solid days there.
- The bus station is the calmest, easiest to navigate in East Africa and the busses themselves are clean and much more orderly than those of Zambia and Malawi. That being said, bus travel is still long and painful; if it says 5 hours, plan for 8 hours, especially if there is a border crossing involved (Uganda: face-palm).
Off the beaten path:The Executive Car Wash Grill doesn’t appear to see too many tourists.
Last Impression/Wishes for “next time”: Next time I would travel around Rwanda and probably spend less time in Uganda.