Coming from a recent, very difficult past, Kigali has become a leading African city and a very interesting place to visit. Unlike a lot of overcrowded and congested East African cities, Kigali is peaceful, clean and very inviting. It is a very safe city which can be explored on foot, or if you have a limited time then take a tour and make sure that you visit some of the fascinating sights that it has to offer.
Kigali is historically, and still often, only visited as a logistical necesssity on the way or way back from visiting the Mountain Gorillas in the North of Rwanda. But Kigali is more and more becoming a destination in its own right, and is well worth stopping for a couple of nights.
Top of anyones list here should be the genocide museum, which provides a real insight into just how incredible it is that Rwanda has recovered so quickly and so strongly from its shocking recent history. There are also other genocide memorial sights nearby such as Nyamata Church, as well as art galleries, other museums and some superb restaurants. It is one of the most interesting cities in Africa to visit, and a few days here with a good guide will stay with you long after you leave.
Kigali - Where to stay
There are some beautiful big luxury hotels in Kigali, although it does lack any good small boutique lodge options. The best place to stay is the Serena, a typical 5 star city hotel, it's big but has managed to maintain some traditional charm and elegance. The newest offering is the Marriott, seriously luxurious but feels very much like you are walking into a business conference. The food at both is great. A small step down in luxury level is the 4 star Hotel Mielles de Collines, or 'Hotel Rwanda', famed for its depiction in the film of the same name. If you really want to save money here then Flame Tree Village is a clean, comfortable and good value option, but it is far from luxurious.
For a summary of the Best places to stay in Kigali
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As previously suggested, Kigali is usually a pit stop before heading over ot the Volcanoes National Park to see the unbelievable primates which reside there. In the park you can enjoy gorilla trekking and the golden monkeys. No trip to Rwanda is complete without a primate experience, though we urge you to take a few nights in Kigali before to learn about the city and the country from one of our excellent guides on the ground.
Although Rwanda's safari scene is up and coming, if you are after a big five safari then it is definitely worth considering the neighbouring Tanzania. Specifically, there is a direct flight from Kigali into the Serengeti National Park. We think that a combination of gorillas and the Serengeti’s Great Wildebeest Migration is the most spoiling and grounding wildlife experiences possible on the continent today. If you are looking to combine the gorillas with seeing the Great Migration, you should be looking at travelling between the months of July and October when the great river crossings take place, or in February which sees calving season in full swing. From Tanzania it could not be easier to combine this itinerary with some beach time to bookend your wildlife adventure.