Kigali: Wikis


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Kigali, Rwanda
Kigali is located in Rwanda
Map of Rwanda showing the location of Kigali.
Coordinates: 1°56′38″S 30°3′34″E / 1.94389°S 30.05944°E / -1.94389; 30.05944
Province Kigali City
 - Mayor Aisa Kirabo Kacyira
 - Total 730 km2 (281.9 sq mi)
Elevation 1,567 m (5,141 ft)
Population (2009)
 - Total 965,398
 Density 1,165.8/km2 (3,019.4/sq mi)
Time zone CAT (UTC+1)
 - Summer (DST) none (UTC+1)
1. Gasabo
2. Kicukiro
3. Nyarugenge
Rwanda KigaliDists.png

Kigali, population 965,398 (2009), is the capital and largest city of Rwanda. It is situated near the geographic centre of the nation, and has been the economic, cultural, and transport hub of Rwanda since it became capital at independence in 1962. The main residence and offices of the President of Rwanda are located in the city, as are the government ministries. The city is coterminous with the province of Kigali City, which was enlarged in January 2006 as part of local government reorganisation in the country. The city's urban area covers about 70% of the municipal boundaries.[1]



Kigali was founded in 1907 under German colonial rule, but did not become the capital until Rwandan independence in 1962. The traditional capital was the seat of the mwami (king) in Nyanza, while the colonial seat of power was in Butare, then known as Astrida. Butare was initially the leading contender to be the capital of the new independent nation, but Kigali was chosen because of its more central location. Since then the city has grown very quickly and is now the major political, economic and cultural centre of Rwanda.

Beginning on April 6, 1994, Kigali was the scene of the Rwandan Genocide — the slaughter of approximately one million Tutsi and moderate Hutu by Hutu militias (interahamwe), and some members of the Rwandan army — and of fierce fighting between the army (mostly Hutu) and Tutsi-dominated Rwandese Patriotic Front. Although damaged, the city's structure has recovered

Geography and history

Mount Kigali and one of the Northern suburbs
Northern Kigali suburb
Kigali seen from Spot Satellite
Climate chart for Kigali
A row of minibus share taxis waiting to depart in Kigali, Rwanda
The Mille Collines hotel

The city is built in hilly country, sprawling across about four ridges and the valleys in between. The city centre is located on one of these ridges, with the main government area on another. The tops of the ridges have an average elevation of 1,600m (5,246 ft) while the valleys are around 1,300m (4,270 ft). The bigger houses and office buildings tend to be on the tops of the ridges, while the poorer people live in the valleys. The city is ringed most of the way round by higher hills, with some suburban sprawl rising up these. The highest of these is Mt. Kigali, with an elevation of 1,850m (6,075 ft) above sea level.


Tin ore (cassiterite) is mined nearby, and the city built a smelting plant in the 1980s. Business in Rwanda is growing, and many new buildings are emerging across the city, including the BCDI tower and the Centenary House office block. Tourism and expatriate NGO workers provide important input into the economy also.[citation needed]

RwandAir, the national airline of Rwanda, has its headquarters in the Centenary House in Kigali.[2] At one previous point the airline had its head office in the Telcom House.[3]

Administration & Government

Kigali is a province-level city governed by a city council who appoints an executive committee to run the day-to-day operations of the city. The executive committee consists of a mayor and two deputies. The city is split into three administrative districts called sectors: Gasabo, Kicukiro, and Nyarugenge.[4] It contained parts of the former province of Kigali Rural.


The city is home to an international airport, Kigali International Airport, with passenger connections daily to Nairobi and Entebbe. Less frequent connections are available to Addis Ababa, Brussels, Bujumbura and Johannesburg. There are also weekly cargo flights to Amsterdam. There is also one domestic air route from Kigali, to Cyangugu in the far south-west. The airport is somewhat limited by its location on the top of a hill, and a brand new one is being considered in the Nyamata area, some 40 kilometres (25 mi) from Kigali.



There are several daily coach services which depart from Kigali to destinations in East Africa. Most leave from the Nyabugogo bus station. These services include:

  • Jaguar Executive Coaches, which connects Kigali to Kampala, the Ugandan capital, via Gatuna or via Kayonza and Kagitumba.
  • Akamba Bus Services, which runs services to Kampala (8 hours), Nairobi, Kenya (24 hours), Dar es Salaam, Tanzania (36 hours)and Mombasa, Kenya (32 hours)
  • Onatracom Express - a Rwandan government service using quite basic buses, running between Kigali and Kampala.
  • Yahoo Car Express - A minibus service running between Kigali and Bujumbura, Burundi.

In addition the national express share taxi services to Gisenyi and Cyangugu often cross the DRC border to carry passengers to Goma and Bukavu respectively.


Kigali is the hub of the Rwanda transport network, with hourly express bus routes to all major towns in the country. The major nationwide companies are Atraco, Stella, Omega, Okapi, Impala (minibuses), and Onatracom, which offers a big bus service, while Volcano Express (to Butare), Virunga Express (to Ruhengeri), Muhabura Express (to Ruhengeri and Gisenyi) serve specific destinations and follow a set schedule. There are also taxi minibus services (matatus) leaving from Kigali, which also go through to the major towns, but some of them stop frequently along the route to pick people up and set them down. Generally,these services run to a fixed timetable, however, in rare cases one would wait few minutes for them to fill up before departing.


Public transport within Kigali is exclusively by taxi minibus (matatu), with a number of different routes, connecting the main hubs of Mu (Mujyi) (the city centre), Nyabugogo, Kacyiru, Kimironko and Remera. Similar to the national taxi minibuses, these services wait to fill up before setting off from the terminus, then pick up and drop off frequently en route. Most routes within the city operate on a flat fare of 180 FRW (about US $0.30).

Private hire

Kigali has many taxis (known as 'special hire' or 'taxi voiture'), which are generally white with an orange stripe down the side. Fares vary from 2000 FRW ($4) up to 5000 FRW ($10) for a journey right across the city. There are also motorbike taxis ('taxi moto'), which offer a service similar to a taxi, but for lower prices, typically in the range 300-1000 FRW.

Comic Relief 2009

On 19 January 2009, Oscar winners Paul Schrader and Steve Blanchard visited the country as part of Comic Relief. They stayed until 23 January.[citation needed]

Points of interest

The city now has four international class hotels, built as part of the country's bid to increase tourism and better support business travellers:

  • The Mille Collines in the Kiyovu area. This hotel became a refugee centre during the genocide, as famously depicted in the film Hotel Rwanda (although the hotel shown in the film is in fact in South Africa). It is also the setting for the famous novel Un dimanche à la piscine à Kigali, by Quebecer Gil Courtemanche, and its movie adaptation Un dimanche à Kigali.
  • The Top Tower Hotel Kigali ([1]) located in the Kacyiru area. Built in 2008, the hotel is known for its Crystal View Lounge Bar on the 8th floor which offers an open full wall windows with panoramic views over Kigali ([2]).
  • The Novotel Umubano in the Kacyiru area. This was formerly a Le Meridien hotel, then known as Le Meridien Umubano. It was bought by Novotel after the genocide.
  • The Kigali Serena Hotel, formerly known as the InterContinental Kigali. Formerly a Belgian-owned hotel known as the Diplomates, the hotel was briefly portrayed in the second half of Hotel Rwanda. It was later bought by the InterContinental Hotels group and remodeled in 2003.

Kigali houses several memorials, museums, and centers dedicated to the Rwandan Genocide, including the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre.

Sister cities

Notes of interest

The city hosts since the We Are the Future center, a child care center giving children a chance to live their childhoods and develop a sense of hope. The center is managed under the direction of the mayor’s office, and the international NGO Glocal Forum serves as the fundraiser and program planner and coordinator for the WAF child center in each city. Each WAF city is linked to several peer cities and public and private partners to create a unique international coalition. Launched in 2004, the program is the result of a strategic partnership between the Glocal Forum, the Quincy Jones Listen Up Foundation and Mr. Hani Masri, with the support of the World Bank, UN agencies and major companies.

See also


  1. ^ "Kigali at a Glace", Official Website of Kigali City, accessed 15 August, 2008
  2. ^ "Contact Us." RwandAir. Retrieved on 7 October 2009.
  3. ^ "World Airline Directory." Flight International. 30 March - 5 April 2004. 61.
  4. ^ Administrative Map of Kigali

External links

Hotels in Kigali

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Kigali is the capital of Rwanda.

Get in

By plane

Brussels Airlines [1] flies to Kigali from Brussels in Belgium.

Kenya Airways [2] also has frequent flights from Nairobi.

Ethiopian Airlines [3] has daily flights between Addis Ababa and Kigali.

Rwandair Express [4] has several flights a day to other African destinations - these are normally booked at the airports.

South African Airways [5] has flights to Kigali from Johannesburg and offers flights to airports close to Kigali.

Many international fliers find it much cheaper to fly into Entebbe in Uganda and then take the bus to Kigali.

>> Depending an how long they bother you at the border, the bus trip takes about 9 hours. Try to get a seat on a Jaguar bus. The seats should be booked a day or two in advance in order to get seats #1 to #4. Actual (09/2007) prices: Kampala - Kigali: UGX 25,000.00 p.p. Kigali - Kampala: UGX 20,000.00 p.p. (strange but true)

By bus

Buses arrive and depart to many parts of Rwanda regularly.

  • There are a couple of daily buses that go direct between Kigali and Kampala in Uganda. The bus is cramped and uncomfortable but the only cheapest choice to get in.
  • Yahoo Car operates a daily bus to Bujumbura in Burundi, however the road in northern Burundi is considered very dangerous.
  • Motorcyle taxis are the most popular and fastest way to get around town. The fare for the motorcycle is on the range from 200 RFr-1000 RFr depend on distance, but most of the motocyclist will ask for RFr 200-500.
  • Matatus (minibuses) ply major routes throughout the city and are the cheapest way to get around. Minibus in rwanda is one of the best transport in east Africa. Most of the buses are still new and maintined well. There are several minibus companies which connect Kigali and the other cities in Rwanda. All of them give the same price depend on the distance. For the short distance for example to Ntarama, it cost only 600 RFr. Long distance to Ruhungeri cost 2500 RFr and to Gisenyi 3000 RFr.
  • There are several car rental agencies in Kigali.
  • There are many taxis in Kigali. If you don't want to negotiate a price or feel that you are getting an unfair price, Kigali Taxi Service [6] may interest you. They have nice, new, clean metered cars and the price is often less than the other taxi services. The airport fare, for example, is less with them than what a local can negotiate with another cab.
  • The Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre [7] opened in April 2004 on the 10th anniversary of the genocides. Over 250,000 people are buried here, and there is a truly touching museum.


Take a trip to a craft centre, like the Dancing Pots Craft Centre or the Cards for Africa workshop and sales room in Kigali.


Learn a bit of French, maybe even a bit of Swahili and Kinyarwanda, all three are extremely useful here. English is also widely spoken, at least in Kigali.

Be aware that ATMs are not particularly prevalent in Kigali, and those that are there don't necessarily work with European bankcards (many banks such as BK, BCR, COGEBANQUE will accept VISA, Master card. just check their websites). There are bank in Kigali with counter service for withdrawals, however. Bancor on the top floor of the Union Trade Centre offer a good service for card withdrawals. *BK (Banque de Kigali) (BCR) COGEBANQUE


Your best bet would be with an aid organization or NGO. If you are a resident of the US or EU, keep in mind that you can avoid paying for an expensive residency permit simply by declaring yourself a tourist upon arrival and then traveling outside of Rwanda once every 90 days for the length of your day. Your 90-day tourist visa (automatically granted upon entry) will be renewed each time you leave and reenter the country (and it's a convenient excuse to go on vacation!).


Local markets are stocked with Rwandan handicrafts, clothing, faboulous colouful fabric from West Africa and just about anything else.

Locally grown tea and coffee are widely avaliable. Both are excellent. Rwandan honey is great, especially the Nyungwe Highlands type.

Passion Fruit Juice! The variety of fruits and vegetables in the markets is fantastic.


Note that Kigali restaurants and bars go in and out of fashion, not to mention close down, quite frequently. Check for the latest once you are in town and be aware that some places mentioned in some print Guidebooks no longer exsist. (The oft-mentioned Turtle Cafe has been closed since 2003!)

  • Babas Cafe at the Kigali Business Centre slightly out of town. Has great wholesome food. Eat as much as you like for 3 US$.
  • Le Glacon A great ice cream store.
  • La Sierra Serves nearly everything imaginable
  • Republika Great restaurant, great environment. In Kiyovu, close to downtown.
  • The New Cactus - Very good pizzas, popular among expats. Nevertheless the served pizzas can't be compared to Italian ones. Try to get a table in the sheltered part of the open air restaurant, it can be quite windy.
  • Sol e Luna, near Kisementi crossroads and Chez Lando. Less popular than the New Cactus, but cheaper and generally thought as having better pizza's.
  • Papyrus, on the cobbled road near the New Cadillac night club. This popular restaurant/catering school serves tasty italian dishes every night of the week.
  • Bourbon Cafe, Union Trade Center shopping plaza in the centreville and at the MTN Centre in Remera. A gorgeous new coffee shop, recently opened (2007). There is a good selection of coffees and a small menu.
  • Indian Khazana serves fantastic Indian food and is one of the most popular restaurants in town with expats and visitors.
  • L'Atelier is tucked away in the residential district of Kimihurura, within walking distance of Papyrus. You may need help to find it but you'll be rewarded with serves delicious french cuisine in an intimate setting.
  • Thai restaurant at New Cadillac night club was well liked when it first opened. However it is getting mixed reviews after the departure of its Thai chef. This is quite common in Kigali.
  • Kigali Serena's Diplomat Restaurant has good food, with special themes during the week such as the Wednesday Mongolian BBQ and Sunday's Buffet.
  • Chez Robert is about 5 minutes walk from Mille Collines and serves local food in a nice setting. Their dinner buffet is quite good and costs about €7 for more than 20 items. There may be better local food in a hole-in-the wall restaurant for cheaper, but this is wonderful restaurant.
  • Shanghai, near Milles Collines, is a relatively unknown Chinese restaurant. Not very cozy, but the food is really good.
  • Heaven, three blocks downhill from the Mille Collines, is a new restaurant serving American and Continental cuisine. A bit pricy, with most entrees costing FRW400 or above, but the well-prepared food (and fantastic dessert menu) are worth every franc.


Bottled water is recommended for foreign visitors.

  • For alcohol try the New Cadillac night club and the Republica. Both are superb. Watch out for pickpockets outside the New Cadillac.
  • Don't miss Planet Club at the KBC roundabout in Kimihurura, it has 2 sides, a Lounge bar with Housemusic and a Club with African and modern Hip-Hop music.


Accommodation in Kigali is noticeably more expensive than neighboring capitals like Kampala and Nairobi.

  • Kigali Hotel in the Muslim quarter behind the mosque. This is about as budget as you will get, but still not cheap. Good rooms, breakfast available.
  • Isimbi Hotel right in the centre of Kigali with very resonably priced rooms, a good bar and restaurant.
  • Gloria Hotel (which currently only has cold water showers).
  • Sphinx Belair Located behind Telecom house and not far from Novotel Umubano. Standard room starting at 60 USD.
  • Iris Guesthouser 75 USD, clean, big rooms, hot water, very good restaurant and free Internet.
  • Hotel des Mille Collines, + 250 576 530, [8]. While the movie was filmed in South Africa, this was the site where the actual events took place for the movie Hotel Rwanda. It has a restaurant, pool, internet, gift shop, etc. At €151 per night with the "internet rate" for a standard suite, the rooms are quite expensive and are not as luxurious as the hotel lobby and public areas. There is no air-conditioning in many rooms which are badly maintained missing such things as lights and refrigerators and having broken bathroom fittings. There is a room safe, but no hair dryer. You have to pay for wireless internet connection which is quite expensive, but reasonably fast and the hotel is close to several internet cafes. Banks are also near the hotel. Ask the hotel staff about the path through the back of the compound and you walk right into a commercial centre and mall. Booking on their website will get you a much better rate than booking at the hotel or through an agent most of the time. The pool-side restaurant has a small selection of snack meals reasonably priced but service is slow. The upper level one has a wonderful breakfast buffet and good, but expensive, meals for lunch and dinner. You can walk to a few good restaurants: Chez Robert serves high-quality typical local cuisine in a nice setting and has a pretty good dinner buffet. You can also walk to Indian Khazana in about 10 minutes, which serves incredible Indian fare.
  • Okapi Hotel Some rooms available for US$25 per night, good location and friendly staff. Some rooms have an excellent view over the outskirts of Kigali. Just forget the USD 25.00 rooms (BTW, actually USD 30.00) , they are 'downstairs' and aren't worth USD 10.00.
  • Kigali Serena [9]
  • Chez Lando
  • Hotel Faucon
  • Hotel Serena
  • LAICO Umubano Hotel formerly known as the Novotel Umubano is a four-star hotel about US$150 per night for a standard room.

Stay safe

Kigali is relatively safe and friendly as far as African capitals go. Keep your eyes open and your wallet out of the reach of pickpockets, especially in crowded areas. Avoid walking after dark if possible, especially alone. Take extra precaution in the area between New Cadilac Nightclub and Carwash bar.

Police officers are generally helpful if you're in a bind, but don't expect speedy results.

  • Parc National des Volcans, home of the mountain gorillas, and the setting for Gorillas in the Mist author Dian Fossey's research. If you can afford it it's an excellent experience... even possible as a daytrip from Kigali. Enquire at the Rwandan Office for Tourism and National Parks (ORTPN), Boulevard de la Révolution n° 1, Kigali, +(250) 576514 or 573396, $500 USD cash, or it is possible to use your Mastercard.
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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary


Proper noun


  1. The capital of Rwanda.


Simple English

Kigali (pronounced either as 'Kigali' or 'Chigali') is the capital city of Rwanda.


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