There are several cities in Rwanda.
Located at Rwanda’s geographical heart, the rapidly growing city of Kigali is not only the national capital, but also the country’s most important business centre and main point of entry. Serviced by an efficient international airport and connected to neighbouring Uganda, Tanzania and Burundi by surfaced roads, Kigali City boasts a range of hotels catering to all tastes and budgets, and an assortment of fine restaurants whose menus reflect a variety of both traditional and international cuisines.
Despite such concessions to modernity, Kigali City retains the feel of a garden
city, with a satisfyingly organic shape dictated by the verdant slopes over which it sprawls. The compact, low-rise city centre surrounds a busy, colourful commercial district within which various shops and souvenir stalls displaying a wide range of lovingly executed local crafts can be found.
The atmospheric Muslim quarter of Nyamirambo next to the city centre is well worth a visit, and one can also explore the network of leafy avenues that wind out of the town centre into the surrounding residential suburbs. The upscale neighbourhoods of Nyarutarama and Gacuriro offer stunning views of Kigali’s numerous hills as well as the pristine Nyarutarama Golf Course.
Among the safest and friendliest of African capitals, Kigali City is blessed with a moderate high altitude climate that belies its tropical location, and is conveniently located within three hours’ drive of the main tourist sites. The Rwandan capital provides both a comfortable and welcoming introduction to this land of a thousand hills and an ideal springboard from which to explore this magical country.
Huye (former Butare) was the largest and most important city in Rwanda prior
to 1965 when the more centrally located Kigali 135km to its north, became the capital of independent Rwanda. Today as the site of the country’s largest university, the National University of Rwanda, home of the National Museum of Rwanda, and a main stopover point en route to the nearby Nyanza Royal Palace, Huye is regarded as the intellectual and cultural pulse of Rwanda. It is also an attractively compact and sedate town with shady avenues emanating from a main street lined with comfortable small hotels and breezy terrace restaurants.
Three resort towns Rubavu, Karongi and Rusizi sit along the littoral of Lake Kivu at the western edge of the country. Gisenyi is the most developed of the three and lays less than an hour’s drive from Volcanoes National Park. It is set on a sandy beach lined with swaying palms, modern and colonial-era hotels that exude an atmosphere of tropical languor. Tourists enjoy leisurely strolls along the main beach; local cuisine overlooking the water anddelicious freshly caught fish and evening bonfires at the Paradis Malahide hotel; and volleyball games and water sports, or for those in need of relaxation, a private massage all on the beach of the Lake Kivu Serena. Munezero, a luxury tourist boat can be boarded in Gisenyi to guide tourists along Lake Kivu’s shores.
One of the largest cities in Rwanda, Musanze is a bustling city hosting almost all
tourists visiting the world famous mountain gorillas. Musanze has long been the base point for gorilla visits and is cradled against a stunning backdrop of Karisimbi, Bisoke, Sabyinyo, Gahinga and Muhabura volcanoes. The city is also only a 45-minute drive away from Gisenyi and the stunning Lake Kivu. The main street of Musanze is characterised by the large active market in the centre of town and throughout the city residents are often dressed in bright, vibrant fabrics in sharp contrast with the dark volcanic rock that typifies the city’s roads. Located near Lake Burera, Musanze is known for its jagged landscape, crisp cold air and spectacular views.