Kigali: Museums, Nightlife and Coffee

Sara Thopson - Dec 31, 2012
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Rwanda was once referred as the "Land of Eternal Springs." Kigali is the capital city of Rwanda and fits the bill too. The city is sprawled over valleys, hills and ridges. Though small, Kigali is attractive and offers scenic sights over the intensively terraced and cultivated countryside beyond the city.

The civil war of 1994 trashed the city badly. Nevertheless, Kigali has undergone a massive transformation and rehabilitation. It is doubtless that the city is not held by its past and is fully focused on the future.

Kigali remains the center of commercial and political life in Rwanda. It is almost impossible to visit the country without passing through the city. Indeed, Kigali is developing so fast that it is currently a showpiece city designed to thrill visitors, from visiting dignitaries, foreign investors and tourists. The city is clean, ordered and comfortable and has excellent restaurants and hotels. This has made the city popular with lasting expats. Kigali is also teeming with visitors such as NGO's or young church volunteers ensuring they get a relaxed lifestyle during their travels.

Among the main attractions is the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre. It opened its doors in 2004 during the 10th commemoration of the 1994 genocide. At least 250,000 remains are buried in the museum and it is really a touching experience. The city is home to a number of other centers, museums and memorials that are dedicated to the genocide.

Presidential Palace Museum is another popular destination for tourists. It is located in an area called Kanombe, which is 4km east of "Dinky Kigali International." Indeed, the palace lies under the flight path. This was the residence of Habyarimana, the former president of Rwanda. He died in 1994 after a plane crash. It is an excellent opportunity to get a glimpse of his life as a dictator during the 1970s and 1980s. Besides, you will get a glimpse of Rwandan clothing, which is displayed in the center.

Visitors of Kigali should not miss taking a trip to various craft centers in the city such as "Cards for Africa Workshop", "Dancing Pots Craft Centre", "Ten Pin Bowling", Gisozi Circuit and Ballet Rwanda. Gisozi circuit is a great running course that runs through Kigali's suburbs. It is flat, has less traffic, and provides scenic views of rice paddies. "Ten Pin Bowling" is also a popular center you can visit during your travel to Kigali. It has six lanes and is furnished with modern equipment to make your experience delightful.

Rwanda is well known for excellent coffee, which you should buy during your travel. However, you should be aware of cheap coffee in the streets that are often only sweepings from the floor of factories. Rwanda has great honey as well, especially "Nyungwe Highlands Type." Besides, Rwanda has both green and black tea that is of high quality.

You can also visit the local markets in Kigali. They are stocked with clothing and handicrafts, which will give you a taste of Rwandan culture. The markets are also stocked with remarkable and colorful fabrics sourced from different African countries, which will allow you sample the African culture. The largest market is located at Kimironko and it is the best place to buy basic foodstuff such as rice, vegetables and fruits.

Kigali has excellent places to dine. From Belgium culinary influence to freshwater fish, fresh vegetables and cows, there is plenty of excellent and affordable eating for you in Kigali. However, you should be aware that bars and restaurants in Kigali close down quickly. Therefore, always be on the look out for the latest bars and restaurants in the city.

Bottled water is the common drink suggested to visitors. However, you can try the ‘Republica’ and the ‘New Cadillac club’ for some alcohol drinks. These clubs are superb, but you should be aware of pickpockets. You cannot afford to miss "Planet club" during your stay in Kigali. The lounge bar is popular with contemporary and African Hip-Hop music.

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