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From its bustling markets and cultural landmarks to its thriving coffee culture, Kigali offers visitors a captivating blend of tradition, innovation, and natural beauty that is the perfect follow up to East Africa after our amazing Kenya Safari trip. Kigali is one of the cleanest and most organised cities of East Africa and here’s why we think you should consider exploring the vibrant streets and hidden gems of Rwanda’s capital city.

gorilla family in Volcanoes national park in Rwanda kigali
Hello Mister 🙂

Getting to Rwanda and Where to Stay in Kigali

Rwand Air offers direct flights (with a “technical stop” in either Entebbe or Mombasa) from Mumbai to Kigali making it easily accessible for Indians. In addition to this, Rwanda is visa free for Indians (Yayy!), making it ideal if you want an unusual destination without the hassle of visas. The local currency of Rwanda is Rwandan Franc (RWF). 1 INR is roughly equal to 15 RWF.  You can download Yego or Move app for booking taxis. On the day you land, it’s probably best to arrange a pick-up from the hotel you’re staying at. It’s usually around USD 30 (total) for this service.

Kigali is a modern and bustling city, and offers accommodation of all types. It’s best to stay in the downtown area as most of the attractions and restaurants/cafes are in walking distance. We stayed at the Marriott Kigali and had a very comfortable stay. Some other options are Radisson Blu, Four Points By Sheraton, and Park Inn By Radisson. As always, best to compare prices and book here.

flight to rwanda kigali from india
Lush greenery everywhere
Clean and well maintained streets everywhere

Gorilla Tracking – Must Do experience in Kigali

Kigali is the gateway to the iconic gorilla tracking safaris of East Africa. Gorilla tracking is undoubtedly the highlight of a trip to Rwanda and thousands of tourists from around the world fly in to Rwanda for this experience. It is possible to do this safari in Uganda as well but if you’re flying into Entebbe, then in all probability it will be a 3 day trip from Entebbe to do this safari! However if you decide to go gorilla tracking from Kigali, this is a day trip. Permits for this safari are extremely limited and cost an eye-watering $1500 per person! But having done it, we can safely say it is worth it!

We were a little worried about who to book this experience with as it has a 4 am start but upon a friend’s recommendation, we booked our Gorilla tracking tour with Hermosa Life Tours and Travels and it was a great decision. It is a super safe and reliable company and ensured we had the experience of a lifetime! They came to our hotel and took all documents needed for the permit, and ensured that everything went swimmingly.

We started early morning from Kigali, drove to Volcanoes National Park (you get a private vehicle) and began our hike through dense jungles and misty mountains to encounter majestic mountain gorillas in their natural habitat. Each group gets an experienced guide at Volcanoes National Park and the opportunity to observe these incredible creatures up close. You can witness entire gorilla families and babies going about their daily life (once you track a family, you get 1 hour to spend around them)! This experience is so exhilarating that it cannot be summed up in words – an adventure that will leave you with memories to cherish for a lifetime.

forest view near Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda
Gorgeous sunrise views on our way to Volcanoes National Park
John regaling us with tales from the jungle
gorilla family in Volcanoes national park in Rwanda kigali
The Silverback – head of the family. What an experience coming face to face with these creatures
Cutest family 🙂

Things to Do and Where To Eat in Kigali

Mount Kigali: For panoramic views of the city and surrounding countryside, hike to the top of Mount Kigali. Whether you choose to trek at sunrise or sunset, the breathtaking vistas from the summit are sure to leave a lasting impression. You can also take a taxi to a point from where the trek to this view point is short.

Kigali Genocide Memorial: Start your journey with a visit to the Kigali Genocide Memorial, a poignant tribute to the victims of the 1994 Rwandan Genocide. The memorial offers a somber yet essential reflection on Rwanda’s tragic history and the resilience of its people.

Kimironko Market: Dive into the vibrant atmosphere of Kimironko Market, where bustling stalls offer an array of fresh produce, spices, and artisan crafts. Immerse yourself in the sights, sounds, and aromas of this bustling marketplace, and don’t forget to haggle for souvenirs to take home.

Nyamirambo District: Explore the colorful streets of Nyamirambo, Kigali’s oldest and most diverse neighborhood. Known for its lively atmosphere, eclectic architecture, and vibrant street art, Nyamirambo offers a fascinating glimpse into Rwanda’s cultural melting pot.

Inema Arts Center: Discover Rwanda’s burgeoning contemporary art scene at the Inema Arts Center, a dynamic hub showcasing the work of local artists. Explore galleries filled with vibrant paintings, sculptures, and mixed-media installations that reflect Rwanda’s rich cultural heritage and modern identity

Question Coffee: Rwanda has some of the best coffee in the world! If you’re a coffee aficionado, you must visit Question Coffee, a cozy cafe dedicated to promoting sustainable coffee farming and empowering local growers. Savour a freshly brewed cup of single-origin coffee or sample a selection of espresso-based drinks, all sourced directly from Rwandan farmers. You can read more about the initiative here.

Bourbon Coffee: You can also visit Bourbon Coffee, a popular cafe chain with several locations across Kigali. Relax in the stylish surroundings and enjoy a wide range of specialty coffees, teas, and light bites while soaking up the vibrant atmosphere.

Indabo Cafe Kiyovu: If you want outdoor seating in a very Bali like setting, head to Indabo in Kiyovu. We loved the ambience, the food, and the smoothies.

Rooftop Rendezvous Bar at Ubumwe Grande Hotel: More than the food, this is the restaurant to visit for the views! The food is mediocre but this rooftop restaurant offers an amazing view of the city of Kigali. Go around sunset and enjoy the view over a couple of beers, followed by dinner.

Explore the local markets and admire the colourful clothing. Locals are always smiling 🙂
Unending views of Kigali and the mountains from Rooftop Rendezvous bar and grill
One of the coolest cities we have been to in a while
question coffee in kigali rwanda
Question coffee – we fell in love with the coffee and cafes in Rwanda

I hope we’ve given you enough reasons to put Kigali on your travel bucket-list – make sure you visit this unique city and tell us what you thought of it! Any questions – just ask below and we will get back asap 🙂

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