Kigali with a population just over 1 million people according to the 2012 national census and a total area of 281.9 mi² (730 km²) is the capital and largest city of Rwanda, it was founded in 1907 by Dr. Richard Kandt under the German colonial rule, it however did not become the capital until Rwandan independence in 1962, its situated near the geographic centre of the country making it ideal for the citizens in terms of access. Spanning several ridges and valleys, with its lush hillsides, flowering trees, winding boulevards and bustling streets, it is arguably one of the most attractive cities in Africa, as well as one of the cleanest and safest. The city as expected has always been the economic, cultural and transport hub of Rwanda since her independence in 1962.
Kigali has not however always been this way it exists as a testament to the peace and order that has defined Rwanda for just over two decades, as it bore the brunt of the genocide in 1994 that lasted about 100 days of systematic slaughter of the Tutsi and moderate Hutus. When the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) finally got control of the city, dead and rotting bodies littered the streets.
Kigali is home to Hotel des Mille Collines , this luxury hotel was owned by the Belgian airline Sabena, its the inspiration for the film Hotel Rwanda, at the time of the genocide , the hotel’s European managers were evacuated, and control of the Mille Collines was given to Paul Rusesabagina. He gave refuge to the fleeing Tutsi and Hutu moderates as the situation got out of hand.
Another place of interest is Camp Kigali Memorial, The 10 stone columns you find here mark the spot where 10 Belgian UN peacekeepers were murdered on the first day of the genocide. Each stone column represents one of the soldiers and the horizontal cuts in it represent the soldier’s age. The bullet-sprayed building in which the soldiers died now houses a small exhibition on the genocide.
The State House Museum set on a ridge where you can soak up the sparkling lights of Kigali by night or get a bird’s-eye view. This former presidential palace on the eastern outskirts of the city is slowly being restored. It has few exhibits, the wreckage from Juvenal Habyarimana’s presidential plane can still be seen where it was shot down – just over his garden wall. It is a short way east of the airport. The easiest way to get there is by catching a Kanombe-bound minibus to the military hospital, from where it’s a short walk.
There are two major means of transport within the city, the Moto-taxi and the Mini bus, the Moto-taxi is the swiftest way to get around Kigali, short hops within the city costs between RFr300 to RFr500, while to the outskirts may range from RFr700 to RFr1000.
The Mini buses cruise the streets looking for passengers and each advertise their destinations in the front windows, they all charge a set price of RFr200.
Next time you want to take a trip to this beautiful city, do not think beyond the Modern bus to take you there, we have a bus daily from Nairobi at 5 PM and another daily from Kampala at 8 AM daily, our buses are unique with three different seat types and very affordable fares. Travel in style get there refreshed and explore a city many would love to visit.