tales of a wanderer
regal rwanda, the land of the royals.
my welcome to kigali
i won’t be the first to say that kigali is one of the most clean, if not the most clean, cities i have been to. i didn’t know what to expect when I first got there. like most of my travels I try not look at too many pictures online to keep the element of surprise when i arrive. it leaves room for me to make judgements when i am actually in the place rather than building false expectations in the mind.
on my journey from the airport to my airbnb i already had a very good feeling inside about the city. as mentioned it was immaculately clean, giving the impression that its residents are proud of their home. secondly, the roads are not chaotic as i had imagined - cars and motos (motorbikes used as a mode of public transport) flowed with ease without much traffic. however, the most striking thing are the beautiful hills filled with greenery where the city seems to be dispersed between.
getting around kigali
it is no surprise that it is also fondly known as "the country with one thousand hills." the hills mean that you have views wherever you are in the city. it also means walking at mid-day can be quite the challenge with elevations coupled with the heat. rwanda is very safe so i was comfortable walking to local amenities whenever necessary. uber is not available in rwanda, however they have their own local cab service called yego cabs. you can download the app like uber and request cabs that way. the language barrier did prove to create some challenges when trying to organise transport. but rwandese people are very kind, patient and helpful so you will always get to where you need to be. my advise would be to get a local sim card with data on arrival. when using cab services you can then use google maps for the drivers to easily understand where you are going. cabs are reasonably priced and most of my journeys around the city cost at max around 5000 rwf (approximately r82,00). there are also motos on offer that are significantly cheaper. a journey that cost me 5000 rwf in a cab, cost me 1500 rwf (r24,00) with a rider. i can’t lie, i was nervous to use them and only did when i found myself in situation where they were the only transport available. an unnecessary concern as the journey was smooth and everyone adheres to the road regulations.
things to do in kigali
kigali, although one of the smaller capital cities in africa, isn’t short on things to do. there are a lot of very beautifully designed restaurants, humble spaces with good food and a nightlife that doesn’t end. i will list the spaces i visited and was told about at the end of the article. remera car free zone is a bustling area with many different restaurants and bars to choose from. the cobbled streets are shut down so no cars can drive in the area over weekends. leaving the streets to be aimlessly wandered by the youth in search of a good time. i really enjoyed walking the streets and exploring. there are a variety local street food vendors, restaurants and bars to choose from. i then enjoyed a very unpretentious but very tasty meal from a tex mex restaurant called meze fresh.
if you are a night owl there are many options to party the night away. on my first night we bar hopped. starting at pili pili to watch the football. a beautiful space with even better views. here you can get litres of beer delivered to your table. followed by a lovely rooftop bar, bicu lounge, with greenery hanging from the ceiling, beautiful people and a great vibe. there were other bars in between but we ended the night or shall I say morning at envy. a club with a lit dance floor and dancing is an order. we danced the night away until 5am when us south africans thought it was too late but the club was far from empty at that time.
road trip to lake muhazi
i then got a taste of the very lush and tranquil natural beauty of rwanda when I visited lake muhazi. a scenic hour and a half car ride from kigali. i stayed at vintage cottage which was fantastic but their website really undersold them. something I noticed with many of the places I went to. we had a delicious lunch of salads, fresh fish (from the fishing farm on the lake), chicken and green banana. and of course, many ice cold amstels, 100% malt. the lake is a great place to take a dip and cool off from the afternoon sun. and in the evening drinks can be shared fireside. my only regret is that i was only there for one night.
the creative world
collaboration is commonplace and networking as a creative was surprisingly easy. people are open to sharing ideas and experiences which was very refreshing. the creative industries seems to be growing quickly with a lot of opportunities that can be explored. repub lounge kigali is a popular hangout spot for local creatives and they have a great menu that serves east african cuisine.
all in all, i would highly recommend rwanda as a fantastic place to visit. whether you enjoy good food, partying or being off the grid in nature, rwanda can offer you all those things.the people of rwanda are one of the highlights - their warmth and hospitality made the traveling experience for me. there is also just a heir of regality in the atmosphere. from the cleanliness of the country to the way the locals carry themselves. making me see the rwandese as the royals of africa. hence, me giving this article a fitting name of “regal rwanda, the land of the royals.”
places to grab a bite to eat
atelier du vin
meza malonga (fine dining)
anda kigali (fine dining)
places to shake a leg
choma'd bar & grill
legacy lounge & wine bar
getting lost in nature
many forests where you can hike and spend the day away from the city (i don’t know the names)