Rwanda
Kigali

Here you’ll find travel reports about Kigali. Discover travel destinations in Rwanda of travelers writing a travel blog on FindPenguins.

14 travelers at this place:

  • Day2

    Touchdown in Rwanda

    May 24 in Rwanda

    Arrived! And the bike's here also! Safely at the Scripture Union guest house rooming with Simon.
    Bike built and ready to go - except that my tiredness and diet of airplane food probably isn't condusive to any sort of exercise, let alone riding.
    Rwanda is really full of hills! On way here came down a 1:4 cobbled Street - thankfully don't think we're cycling that one.

  • Day3

    Getting acclimatised

    May 25 in Rwanda

    A day in Kigali, no proper cycling today although we did set the bikes up and have a little ride out - the cobbles certainly have a way of checking all is tightened well - it wasn't, but is now - hopefully!

    After we took a trip into Kigali, starting with the genoide memorial. Difficult to fully describe, over 250,000 people are interned there, no words really suffice. 24 years on and it's still raw. We came to Rwanda for a night in 1996 and looking back I don't think I understood the full magnitude of what had happened.

    After a great lunch at the Ubunwe Grande Hotel with amazing views over Kigali, it was a spot of shopping- African style ! Great fun and great people. Have to say we avoided the ‘clean meat place’ - so no Sunday roast I am afraid!

    Tonight had a talk by an amazing visionary who was behind the project to replace Burundian cows with friesian cows that produce loads more milk, lifting families out of poverty. His latest project is to produce organic stevia- a natural sugar substitute- and giving the producers free chicks to fertilise the land, a brilliant but simple idea. Lots of opposition from sugar producers and GM stevia seed manufacturers, but he is persevering and succeeding! Tomorrow we cycle!

    Psalm 67 1-2
    May God be gracious to us and bless us
    and make his face shine on us—
    so that your ways may be known on earth
    your salvation among all nations.
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  • Day10

    Back to Kigali

    June 1 in Rwanda

    The final countdown. Up for breakfast at 6am 80 miles ahead of us. The first group (who were taking it at a slightly slower pace) left leaving 6 of us (including Kiki, team Rwanda and our mechanic) to enjoy a Rwandan coffee at a coffee shop next to the guest house. We set off in peloton formation - something we hadn't done all week as normally the terrain was steep hills. This was different - gently undulating hills allowed good peloton riding - and we soon picked up the pace. The group came back together after about 30 miles which signified the start of the annual 'race' - the rules simple those that want to race start about 10 minutes after those that don't. The first group cycle and wait at an unknown point to the racing group and that is the finish. Five of us raced. A rolling start, Kiki took off - in fairness there was only ever going to be one winner so it was really a race for second place! The course was short and kind to the heavier rider finishing on an uphill after a down hill, so after clinging on for dear life at the start with the advantage of extra momentum I managed to finish in the middle after Kiki and Wesley thank goodness for those extra pounds!?!

    However my legs after that were shot and as hard as I tried I could not keep up with the faster riders any longer. While the scenery was perhaps not as breathtaking as in previous days - familiarity was perhaps a factor the roads were much kinder with none on the long brutal climbs we had had before. We all regrouped about 15km from Kigali to ride in together. This was potentially the most risky part of the day as we came into a busy city. Riding in was straight forward and fairly flat, although this was Rwanda and hills were always present and coming into Kigali there were some steep climbs as we made our way back to the finish of our guest house.

    We all rolled in, tired but exhilarated. We had made it. A really hard week, with a number of individual days being the hardest days most had ever experienced. Eric's chips and sausage awaited - a perfect end to an 80 mile day and a 500 mile week.

    Chips, brochettes and beer at a nearby hotel was the evening fare, exhaust but happy we lasted until about 9.30. An amazing week, great riding, great friends and a great God.

    'But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.' (Isaiah 40:31)

    Remember you can still give to the work of GLO. The work they do is amazing, it literally changes and saves lives. https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/hughwells

    Thank you to Tallis Woomert (instagram @talliswoomert) for the amazing photos - you'll imediately see which ones! Do go to his instagram for more you won't be disappointed!

    Thank you to Simon Guillebaud www.simonguillebaud.com) for organising - an amazing trip.
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  • Day104

    Kigali

    August 18, 2017 in Rwanda

    A short, very scenic drive took us back to Kigali. However, poor timing meant we hit INSANE traffic and endless road closures as President Kagame’s inauguration ceremony was just wrapping up in the nearby stadium. It was also Friday rush-hour, and raining. It took us nearly 2 hours to find our way to the Airbnb we’d booked.
    We were very suspicious of Rwanda’s president, who has been described by some as a benevolent dictator and who won his 3rd term with ~98% of the vote. However, he is absolutely LOVED and REVERED by every Rwandan we’ve met. He’s credited with ending the genocide, unifying and re-building the country. It’s hard to argue with his results. The reality is that Rwanda has incredible infrastructure in terms of roads, quality of housing in the villages, and free education and good healthcare. This is a place where you feel corruption is not a big issue and that international aid is actually getting to the people.
    We decided to spend a few days in Kigali relaxing, exploring the city and visiting the excellent Genocide Memorial that explained in painful detail how the 100 days of killing unfolded.
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  • Day10

    Kigali Genocide Memorial

    June 18, 2017 in Rwanda

    I don't think I fully understood the concept or extent of what had happened during the Kigali Genocide even after going to the memorial and being given all the information I am unable to fully comprehend. I have so many unanswered questions and I left the memorial centre feeling numb and lost for words.

    The Rwandan genocide, also known as the genocide against the Tutsi, was a genocidal mass slaughter of Tutsi in Rwanda by members of the Hutu majority government. An estimated 500,000–1,000,000 Rwandans were killed during the 100-day period from April 7 to mid-July 1994, constituting as many as 70% of the Tutsi population.

    The genocide itself, the large scale killing of Tutsi on the grounds of ethnicity, began within a few hours of Habyarimana's death. Military leaders in Gisenyi province announced the president's death, blaming the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) and then ordered the crowd to "begin your work" and to "spare no one", including babies.

    The Hutu population, which had been prepared and armed during the preceding months and maintained the Rwandan tradition of obedience to authority, carried out the orders without question.

    It is estimated that during the first six weeks, up to 800,000 Rwandans may have been murdered, representing a rate five times higher than during the Holocaust of Nazi Germany.

    Most of the victims were killed in their own villages or in towns, often by their neighbors and fellow villagers. The militia typically murdered victims with machetes, although some army units used rifles. The Hutu gangs searched out victims hiding in churches and school buildings, and massacred them. Local officials and government-sponsored radio incited ordinary citizens to kill their neighbors, and those who refused to kill were often murdered on the spot. "Either you took part in the massacres or you were massacred yourself."

    Road blocks were set up and people were obligated to present their identification card, if they were Tutsi they were slaughtered.

    The genocidal authorities were displaying the French flag on their own vehicles but slaughtering Tutsi who came out of hiding seeking protection.

    Rape was used as a weapon, during the conflict, Hutu extremists released hundreds of patients suffering from AIDS from hospitals and formed them into "rape squads." The intent was to infect and cause a "slow, inexorable death" for their future Tutsi rape victims. Tutsi women were also targeted with the intent of destroying their reproductive capabilities. Sexual mutilation sometimes occurred after the rape and included mutilation of the vagina with machetes, knives, sharpened sticks, boiling water, and acid.

    The genocide and widespread slaughter of Rwandans ended when the Tutsi-backed and heavily armed RPF led by Paul Kagame took control of the country. An estimated 2,000,000 Rwandans, mostly Hutus, were displaced and became refugees.

    The systematic destruction of the judicial system during the genocide and civil war was a major problem. After the genocide, over one million people were potentially culpable for a role in the genocide, nearly one fifth of the population remaining after the summer of 1994. After the genocide, the RPF pursued a policy of mass arrests for the genocide, jailing over 100,000 in the two years after the genocide. The pace of arrests overwhelmed the physical capacity of the Rwandan prison system, leading to what Amnesty International deemed “cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment.” The country’s nineteen prisons were designed to hold about eighteen thousand inmates, but at their peak in 1998 there were 100,000 people in detention facilities across the country.
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  • Day3

    Doha to Heaven,via Entebbe

    July 2, 2017 in Rwanda

    Wake up time was 4.20am for a 5am departure to the airport. The roads are busy already and the overnight construction is still going on - most construction during summer happens at night because of the heat.

    Our flight to Kigali was via Entebbe, Uganda, where we stayed on the plane for an hour while they cleaned around us. The jump from Entebbe to Kigali was the shortest international flight we've been on, 30 minutes. Fortunately for the hosties there were only about 50 people on the flight so they had time to rush some food around before we landed.

    On arrival in Kigali we were met at the plane door by a very welcoming airport staff member who checked our boarding passes (yes, on the way off the plane!), then escorted us across the tarmac to the terminal. First queue was to pay the the entry visa, which we were told had to be paid in cash, US dollars only, but they now also accept credit cards, which slowed things down a bit. Passport control was also high tech, with electronic finger printing done, in addition to taking our photo.

    We were met outside by our drivers for the next 2 weeks, and had a 20 minute drive to our hotel (some road line-marking slowed the traffic to a crawl at one stage while they were hand painting one lane of the zebra crossings)

    Rwanda is known as "the land of 1000 hills", and is one of the most densely populated countries in Africa, with a population of 12 million people in a country one tenth the size of Victoria. The capital Kigali is built around several ridges and valleys, so the distance as the crow flies is not large, but navigating the hills takes some time - and plenty of hill starts! Armed Police or army personnel man most of the major intersections throughout the city 24 hours a day, as a general deterrent, and Kigali is widely regarded as the safest capital city in Africa.

    Dinner tonight was at a rooftop restaurant with a spectacular view over Kigali. Goat cutlets and a Mutzig (local) beer for me, poached line fish and a Tusker (Kenyan) beer for Oliver.

    Stayed: Heaven Boutique Hotel
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  • Day7

    It's all about the cache!

    July 6, 2017 in Rwanda

    We had a later start today for the trip to Nyungwe Forest, with breakfast scheduled for 7.30am... but I've had my eye on a nearby cache, so this morning was our opportunity to attempt it. It is only 500m from our hotel, as the crow flies, but considerably longer following roads, so I discussed the best route with our tour leader, Aloys. He thought it was too far to walk and suggested taking a moto taxi, but Oliver wasn't keen on sitting on the back of a motorbike in Kigali's traffic!

    He offered to go as a detour on the way out of town, but I didn't want to delay the whole group, so he offered to meet us at 7am and take us alone, then come back for the group after breakfast. So we met him at 7am and drove to the cache site, at the entrance of a hotel. Amazingly, the road off the main road was rougher than any we encountered in Akagera! The streets were teeming with children on the way to school (7.30am start) and the hotel staff were interested to see what we were doing. They knew there was an "item" in the area, and that previous finders had looked on the gates, but didn't know exactly where it was. After a few minutes searching, we had it in hand, much to the delight of the hotel chef, gardener and security guards!

    We got back to the hotel in time to squeeze in some breakfast, and still made the 8.30am departure time with ease.
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  • Day17

    A Sunday at the pool in Kigali

    July 16, 2017 in Rwanda

    Our last day in Rwanda, before our flight to Amman tonight. Qatar Airlines have cancelled all their flights to Kigali, and at the same time cancelled our onward flight to Amman - fortunately our travel agent was onto it quickly and rebooked us a Kenyan Airways flight to Nairobi, then Qatar Airways to Doha, and a new flight to Amman. The net result is that we don't have a 12 hour stopover in Doha and we get to Amman 4 hours earlier, so it's turned out ok.

    Late breakfast - massive smorgasbord of cereal, fruit, hot and cold meats, freshly squeezed juices (bush tomato was the favourite), pastries, cheeses and our favourite new term, active cooking!

    Aloys was available today to take people to the airport, shopping, to museums, church services and caching! A few went to the tail end a local church service (the full service was from 7am - 11am), while Kerry and Ruth visited the Natural History Museum and we went along to attempt the cache nearby.

    The museum staff first told us the cache was inside the museum grounds and we would have to pay $10 USD each to access it. The cache notes indicate it was outside the museum, so we declined her offer and undertook our own search. We found the spot indicated in the spoiler photo, but the cache was gone. The security guard told Aloys she knew the location, but she took us to the previous coordinates, so we went back to the correct spot and found an empty screw top container in the grass that looked like it could have been the cache container. We were carrying a spare log, so we put it in the container and found a more secure hiding spot very nearby.

    We returned to the hotel briefly before heading out again with Kerry and Ruth to the Genocide Memorial - Ruth to check out the souvenir shop, while we took Kerry in search of the cache we missed 2 weeks ago. We had it in hand very quickly this time, while 2 armed guards looked on quizzically - funny how on second look you wonder how you missed it the first time! We can now claim to have competed every cache in one country - I'm sure that won't happen again!

    Back to the hotel for packing, and the atmosphere has hotted up, with a live band playing near the outside bar. Sunday afternoon around this pool was the place to be seen pre-1994 - local families, expats, politicians, military and business people all mingled together and much of the capital's business was done here over a drink.
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  • Day4

    From Heaven to Hell

    July 3, 2017 in Rwanda

    7am breakfast on the outdoor deck of the Heaven restaurant, under the shade of an Umuvumu tree. This is significant because it's the tree which is found in many villages where they hold town meetings, and is a symbol of repair and reconciliation. For this particular tree, the workers cut through the large roots on one side of the tree when constructing the deck - even though the owners gave instructions to leave the trees untouched - but to their amazement, the tree sent down stilts to support and repair itself on the damaged side, and is still going strong today.

    After a fab breakfast buffet including fresh juice (pineapple, Japanese plum/bush tomato and mango), and an omlette toasted in a chipati, we headed out on a city tour.
    It's a public holiday today for Independence Day (it was actually on July 1, but is observed on the next working day), but the streets were still busy with moto-taxis, bicycles and pedestrians galore.

    Our first stop was the Genocide Memorial and Museum, which was a very sombre experience. On the site, there are 250,000 victims of the 1994 genocide buried in mass graves, where tourists visit to pay respects, and locals visit to have a sense of family, where often they are the only surviving member of their family.

    The museum follows the history of Rwanda from pre colonial days to today, mainly concentrating on the 100 days from April to July 1994 where 1 million people were killed, mostly by machete.

    After the killing stopped on 4 July 1994, a government of national unity was formed, which urged people to rebuild their lives together, without seeking revenge - quite an undertaking! It's hard to imagine how they do it, but Rwandans try to meet face to face with the people who killed their loved ones, or with the survivors of people they themselves killed. They have a determination to move on with life, to get past the seemingly impossible, no matter who or what they must forgive, in others or in themselves.

    They achieved this feat through Gacaca (grass) courts, literally held in the village square, often under an Umuvumu tree. Over the space of 10 years, 12,000 community based courts were convened across the country, and 1.9 million cases heard - those who admitted their part in the genocide, confesed fully and asked for forgiveness face to face with surviving family members, were offered half their sentence as community service building roads, making bricks or building houses for survivors. Many survivors were able to learn the fate of loved ones, locate their bodies and bury them with dignity, often at the Genocide Memorial site.
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  • Day16

    Hotel Rwanda

    July 15, 2017 in Rwanda

    Our last morning in the volcanoes region, breakfast was 8.30 and we chose the "active cooking" option (omlette cooked while you wait).

    The drive back to Kigali is only 80km, but the winding roads and number of hills makes it a multi hour trip, especially when you throw in souvenir stops!

    We departed Kinigi at 9.40am, had a lengthy stop at the local souvenir market, then a stop in Musanze for water. The town was festooned with red, white and blue, the colours of the president's party, RPF - the general election is on August 4 and the current president, Paul Kagame, was due to visit the region this weekend. As part of his election campaign, he offered free petrol to all moto taxis, so there was quite a queue at the local servo.

    We made a stop at the halfway point for some supplies of banana wines and to sample some bbq'd maize.

    We arrived in Kigali at 2.30pm and headed straight to the Hotel des Mille Collines - the "Hotel Rwanda", as depicted in the movie. Lunch was under the verandah near the pool (NY Club sandwich for me, chicken burger for Oliver).

    After we settled into our room, we went for a quick shopping expedition. While we waited for the drivers, we looked for the cache in the hotel car park. It didn't take long with 6 sets if eyes looking! (for the record, muggle Vaal found it)

    Shopping was at a craft market for last minute souvenirs , then the supermarket for food supplies. Tea was in the hotel's outdoor restaurant (pork chops, Nile perch).

    Stayed: Hotel des Mille Collines
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You might also know this place by the following names:

Kigali Province, Kigali, Umujyi wa Kigali

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