TOP PLACES WHERE TO VISIT IN RWANDA
Rwanda is a country of a thousand hills and more. You notice this the moment you arrive either through the Kigali International Airport or through the various border posts from Burundi, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, and Democratic Republic of Congo. Here are the best unforgettable locations that showcase Rwanda’s rich culture and wildlife.
Where to visit in Kigali
Shop at Kimironko market
Of Kigali’s many markets, Kimironko market is one of the best and the biggest. Second-hand clothing, fruit and vegetables, fish, fabric, and baskets are all sold in this covered complex. Spend some time haggling for avocados before buying gifts for everyone on your list – Agaseke baskets are beautiful, unique to Rwanda, and sold by the dozen at Kimironko.
Visit Inema Art Centre
Founded in 2012 by brothers and self-taught painters Emmanuel Nkuranga and Innocent Nkurunziza, Inema Arts Center spurs creativity for personal, social and economic growth. Nkurunziza and Nkuranga started Inema in order:
- To tap the untapped potential of art in Rwanda.
- To use the creative expression as a way to bring the community and country alive.
- To provide exposure to creative people and to create opportunities for Rwanda’s most underserved communities while using creativity for a productive livelihood.
Today, Inema Arts Center has become a beacon in Rwanda for cultivating creative expression. Inema Arts Center is a collective of Rwandan creative artists. At its core, Inema Arts Center provides space for 10 artists in residence to explore their creative talent. Specializing in contemporary African Arts, Crafts, Music, and Dance. Inema’s artists produce paintings, sculptures, and mixed media expressions showcased in, the Gallery at Inema Arts Center. The Center is home to programmes, projects, and initiatives that expand creative arts in Rwanda. Through workshops, trainings, and hands-on classes, the Inema Arts Center provides a space to fuel creative expression.
Watch a soccer game at Amahoro Stadium
Located in the Remera neighborhood, Amahoro is the largest stadium in Rwanda with a capacity of 30,000. Soccer matches are held there regularly, as Rwandans from all over Kigali come to support their teams. The two most popular teams of Kigali are Police FC and Armée Patriotique Rwandaise FC (called APR), with league champions Rayon Sports FC based in Nyanza, the southern province of Rwanda. Games are a reliably rowdy, loud, and fun affair.
Check out the Gaddafi Mosque
One of Rwanda’s most impressive mosques and structures, the Gaddafi Mosque was not actually constructed by Muammar Gaddafi. However, it was named as such for the road that Gaddafi did build that runs parallel to the mosque. The mosque’s official name, though no locals refer to it as such, is the Islamic Cultural Center. Located in the Nyamirambo neighborhood, the mosque also serves as school, clinic, and community center for the surrounding area.
Eat big fish in Nyamirambo
Nyamirambo, Kigali’s Muslim quarter, is one of the city’s most vibrant areas for bars, restaurants, and general merriment. Big fish, otherwise known as a large tilapia grilled with onions and spices, is one of Nyamirambo’s specialties. Grab a friend or two (one big fish can feed several people), and head to Green Corner or Ten to Two Panorama for some of the city’s best. One can also try Kucyiruhura’s place at Kacyiru near Police headquarters.
Pay your respects at the genocide Memorial
Rwanda’s 1994 genocide was an undeniably tragic event, and the Kigali Genocide Memorial does an excellent job of commemorating it. A visit to the memorial is unforgettable, as the attached and informative museum teaches visitors about the events before, during, and after the genocide.
Visit the Presidential Palace Museum
The Presidential Palace, once home to President Habyarimana, is located in Kanombe, a neighborhood near the airport. The remains of the presidential plane are still visible on the grounds, and the crash is credited as the reason for the beginning of the Rwandan genocide. A visit to this museum is an interesting one, and few photographs are allowed to be taken onsite.
Where to visit outside Kigali
Nyanza is the historical capital which hosts the palace of the former King of Rwanda. The area has a collection of three ‘palaces’ – the first is the traditional grass thatched palace, the second is the blockhouse where the King lived and the third was constructed after the King visited Belgium. Unfortunately, he never lived in it as he was exiled after the abolition of the monarchy in favour of central government.
This house gave an idea behind the construction of Kigali Convention Centre tradition of round buildings in the country which is also a dome-shaped building.
- Nyungwe forest
Nyungwe forest is a beautiful tropical forest teeming with life. There are about 300 bird species and 13 primate species, as well as a host of butterflies and reptiles. This area has several tea plantations next to the forest with beautiful scenery. Nyungwe is also the place for the famous canopy walk, which is a different way of seeing the forest and monkeys as they swing from branch to branch.
- Lake Kivu
Lake Kivu, located in western Rwanda, is shared with the Democratic Republic of Congo. It is a great spot for relaxing, with several activities to keep you busy, including kayaking, boat trips, swimming, limited sport fishing and hot springs. There are three main towns along the lake developed for tourism, namely Cyangugu, Kibuye, and Gisenyi. Gisenyi is the most developed for visitors, with Kibuye having fewer activities and Cyangugu the least developed, but with unforgettable views of the lake.
- Volcanoes National Park
Volcanoes National Park, located in northern Rwanda near DRC and Uganda, is home to the famous and endangered mountain gorillas. Enclosed within the park are the Virunga volcanoes, namely Mgahinga, Sabyinyo, Muhabura, Karisimbi and Bisoke. Activities to do in this park include gorilla trekking, golden monkey trekking, bird watching, hiking and cultural or community experiences around the park.
- Akagera National Park
Akagera National Park is located in eastern Rwanda. It is a remarkable savannah park and the only park of its kind in Rwanda where one is able to do game drives and enjoy different wildlife sightings. Recently lions were reintroduced into the park after being killed off from poisoning by cattle farmers adjacent to the park. More of the wildlife to look out for includes over 200 bird species, elephants, zebra, bushbuck, giraffe, waterbuck, hippos and crocodiles in Lake Ihema.
Visit Lake Muhazu beach
A most suitable location for the “Muhazi Marina Resort” accessible from Musha Hospital Road Junction. The Marina resort features 20 bungalows for accommodation; a Marina with up to 20 boats parking and service bay, Water sport access platform, restaurant and bar facilities will accommodate the demand in the area that is currently not being catered for.
With the Lake area attracting domestic tourists the potential lies in offering family & weekend tourist’s products, services and activities that are geared towards their needs. At the Muhazi Marina Resort activities is centred on water sports. Around the Marina families can indulge in picnicking and playing games, enjoying boat rides on the lake (pedal & rowing) and fishing. A trail around the lake will entice biking and hiking activities.
Tour Muhazi Eco Lodge & Camping
The Muhazi Eco Lodge and Camping Facilities is located in Rwamagana District, Muhazi sector; the site is accessible 5km from the main Kayonza-Kigali road. The Eco Lodge features 10-14 bungalows build with local materials for accommodation, a
Camping space for up to 10 double tents, a parking space, a lake sided wooden pathway for hikers, restaurant and bar facilities. With the Lake area attracting domestic tourists the potential lies in offering weekender’s products, services and activities that are geared towards their needs. At the Muhazi Eco lodge tourism activities will centre on adventure and nature.
Visit Jambo Beach Hotel for Nyama Choma
Rwanda is billed as one of the safest countries in Africa and attracting an increasing number of European and world travellers lured by the pull of gorilla trekking in the Virunga mountains or game spotting at Akagera National Park, there are still a number of undisturbed beauty spots worth the effort of exploring. One of Rwanda’s greatest is Lake Muhazi. Jambo Beach Resort sits at the bank of Lake Muhazi which gives a visitor a breathtaking view of the countryside. This tranquil body of water rests less than a two hour bus journey from Kigali, just north of Kayonza.