Museum of Natural History
Kigali’s best museum houses exhibits on Rwanda’s natural wonders and is housed in the 1907 residence of explorer Richard Kandt, reputed to be the first building in Kigali.
The view from the garden is sensational and, looking over the urban sprawl, it’s hard to imagine that it all started with this rather modest home. Few motto drivers have heard of the museum. Ask for Richard Kandt’s house instead.
Kigali Genocide Memorial
In the span of 100 days, an estimated one million Tutsis and moderate Hutus were systematically butchered by the Interahamwe army.
This memorial honours the estimated 250,000 people buried here in mass graves and also has an excellent exhibition that tries to explain how it was that the world watched as the 1994 genocide unfolded.
This is an intensely powerful and moving memorial for which you should dedicate at least half a day.
Inema Arts Center
Opened in 2012, the privately run Inema Arts Center is a collective of 10 resident artists and guests. It’s quickly established itself as the foremost modern art gallery in Kigali.
As well as paintings, sculptures and contemporary takes in traditional crafts, there are dance and music performances several days a week and courses.
Much of the art is for sale (and can be shipped internationally), but if you’re not buying, you’re welcome just to admire.
Hotel des Mille Collines
The inspiration for the film Hotel Rwanda, this still-functioning luxury hotel was owned by the Belgian airline Sabena in 1994.
At the time of the genocide, the hotel’s European managers were evacuated and control was given to local employee Paul Rusesabagina, who used his position to hide fleeing Tutsis and moderate Hutus, thus saving hundreds of lives.
Nyanza Genocide Memorial
Located in Kicukiro, a suburb southeast of the city centre towards the airport, there is little to see at this memorial other than the tiled tops of four mass graves believed to contain the remains of the 4000 Tutsis who took refuge in the Ecole Technique Officielle (ETO) grounds, and numerous unmarked wooden crosses.
Presidential Palace Museum
This former presidential palace on the eastern outskirts of the city has few exhibits, but it’s interesting to explore, with ‘secret’ rooms and an odd presidential nightclub.
Wreckage from Juvenal Habyarimana’s presidential plane can still be seen where it was shot down – just over his garden wall. The perpetrators were never caught, but this act proved to be a rallying call for Hutu extremists and helped trigger the genocide.
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.
Originally deployed to protect the home of moderate Prime Minister Agatha Uwilingiyimana, the soldiers were captured, disarmed and brought here by the Presidential Guard before being killed.
Each stone column represents one of the soldiers and the horizontal cuts in it represent the soldier’s age.
Kigali City Tower
Kigali City Tower is located in the city centre. This blue, curvy building with a protruding stick like part of it at the top can’t be missed as it is our only real sky scraper. It is the tallest building in the country with 18 storeys of well-designed architect and beauty.
From the outer look it may not look that big but when you enter, it might take you all day just to see everything in it, ranging from supermarkets, offices, restaurants, boutiques, gadget shops, radio stations and do you know what else? Rwanda’s new 5D cinema is also there.
Kigali Public Library
Like a diamond that has many facets, Kigali, the capital city of Rwanda has many faces. For those who prefer the literary one, I am sure you cannot leave without visiting the Kigali Public Library.
Located in Kacyiru opposite the American Embassy, the standard fare from everywhere is 200 Rwandan Francs, except of course for those who live in Kacyiru.
The building stands proud and majestic facing the sun and proving the UNICEF report that almost seventy five percent of Rwandans are literate.
The library has several sections including children and teenagers and adult sections which all have several collections and reading areas.
The building also has an African section that includes history and literature, an internet café which enables the readers to have access to the Library and a reference section.
Mamba Club, Rwanda’s only bowling alley
There is no way you can classify Kigali City treasures and not mention Mamba Club. It’s located in Kimihurura in front of Top Security headquarters.
It is a bar and restaurant and even has several health fitness facilities ranging from a swimming pool, a hot yoga facility and it is Rwanda’s only bowling alley. Besides the bowling alley and comfortable lounge, there is an area with sand to play beach volleyball.
In other words you don’t need to go to Gisenyi to enjoy beach volleyball. Bowling is an American game that is enjoyed by both children and adults. It’s relaxing and fun especially if there are two teams competing.