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Kigali, Rwanda Backpacking

Kigali, the capital and largest city of Rwanda, has blossomed into a favoured destination for backpackers in East Africa, owing to its rich history, captivating attractions, and vibrant local culture.

For those embarking on a backpacking adventure in Kigali, this comprehensive guide provides all the essential information you need before commencing your journey.


Volcano National Park

Guide to Backpacking in Kigali,Rwanda

Navigating the vibrant capital of Rwanda, Kigali, is effortlessly facilitated with these indispensable insights:

  • Getting Around

Kigali's compact size ensures convenient mobility. BodaBodas (Moto-Taxis) stand out as a favoured and efficient transportation mode. The city boasts disciplined BodaBoda riders, enhancing safety. Public buses and taxis also provide transportation options.

  • Security

Kigali's exceptional safety profile in East Africa is marked by its cleanliness, tranquillity, and the hospitable nature of its inhabitants, contributing to a secure atmosphere.

  • Dining & Refreshments

Kigali caters to diverse palates, whether you desire local flavours, international cuisine, aromatic coffee, or a place to unwind with a chilled beer. "Eat Out Rwanda" is a valuable resource for a comprehensive dining guide.

  • Currency Exchange

Opt for secure currency conversion at foreign exchange bureaus located in malls and banks. Seek recommendations from your host for bureaus with competitive rates. Carrying USD, GBP, Euro, or KES is advisable for easy conversion to Rwandan Franc (RFW) in Kigali.

  • Exchange Rates

Be aware of fluctuating exchange rates. Currently, 1 Kenyan Shilling (KES) equals 8.54 Rwandan Franc (RFW), and 1 US Dollar (USD) equals 850 RFW.

  • Banks & ATMs

Kigali hosts several international banks, including Bank of Kigali, Kenya Commercial Bank, Equity Bank,I & M Bank, Eco bank, and CBA, ensuring seamless financial services for travellers.

  • People & Language

Kinyarwanda, English, and French are the predominant languages in Rwanda. English's widespread use in Kigali facilitates smooth communication and engagement.

  • Nightlife

While Kigali's nightlife may not match Nairobi or Kampala's energy, it remains vibrant. Rwandans also relish their after-dark hours. Notable spots include Executive Car Wash, Ubumwe Grande Hotel, Envy, Papyrus, and K Club.

  • Shopping

Kigali's rapid development is mirrored in its flourishing shopping scene, characterised by emerging malls. Local markets offer an array of gifts and goods, adding to the shopping experience.

  • Phone and Internet

Operating on a 240V, 50Hz system, Kigali offers internet access in most accommodations and offices. Consider obtaining an Airtel Rwanda or MTN Rwanda mobile SIM card for communication and personal internet use.

With these comprehensive insights, your exploration of Kigali is poised to be immersive and memorable, brimming with cultural connections and captivating revelations.

Kigali's urban staycation

Kigali offers a range of accommodation options, catering to various budgets and preferences. Whether you're seeking budget-friendly backpacker hostels, cosy guesthouses, or luxurious high-end hotels, Kigali has something for everyone. Below, you'll find a breakdown of rates for different types of facilities in the city:

  • Budget Accommodation: Expect to pay between $15 and $60 USD per night for budget options.
  • Mid-Range Hotels: Mid-range hotels offer comfort and quality for prices ranging from $60 to $120 USD per night.
  • Luxury - High End: For those seeking the utmost in luxury, rates exceed $120 USD per night.

Discover Rwanda Youth Hostel

Positioned near Kigali's centre, Discover Rwanda Youth Hostel, the country's first youth hostel, presents an excellent base for exploring the city of a thousand hills. The hostel, situated around 12 km from the Presidential Palace Museum and 4 km from Inema Arts Center, offers free WiFi, "Nyama Choma" (barbecued meat), and business facilities. The rooms feature balconies and are equipped with wardrobes and desks. Shared bathrooms with complimentary toiletries are available, and garden views enhance the ambiance.

  • Heartland Hostel

If you're seeking an alternative to a backpacker's or youth hostel, Heartland Hotel in the Nyamirambo area is a great choice. With rooms overlooking the slopes of Mount Kigali, this hotel provides a pleasant stay.

  • Rujo Hostel

Located approximately 1.1 km from Kigali Centenary Park, Rujo Hostel is another top-notch backpacker's hostel in the city. Its proximity to shopping centres and attractions, such as MTN Centre Kigali, Belgian Peacekeepers Memorial, and Inema Art Centre, makes it a convenient choice.

Top Things to see and do in Kigali, Rwanda

Explore the myriad of enriching experiences in Kigali, Rwanda's captivating capital, with these essential attractions:

  • Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre

Serving as the eternal resting place for over 250,000 victims of the Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, this center honors their memory while fostering education and peace-building. A visit here provides profound insights into humanity's depths.

  • Inema Arts Centre

Founded by self-taught brothers Emmanuel Nkuranga and Innocent Nkurunziza, this centre has evolved into a collective of Rwandan creative artists. It's a hub for contemporary African arts, crafts, music, and dance, offering residence to ten artists to explore their talents.

Inema Arts Center

Presidential Palace Museum

Situated in Kanombe, this museum occupies the former palace of President Habyarimana, whose tragic plane crash in 1994 ignited the Rwandan Genocide. The museum illuminates this pivotal event and its implications.

Kandt House Museum

Nestled on Nyarugenge Hill, this natural history museum delves into Rwanda's colonial past under German rule. Once the residence of German explorer Richard Kandt, the museum provides insights into Rwandan life during that era.

Nyamirambo Main Street

Embark on a walk along this vibrant street to immerse yourself in local life and savour stunning views of Kigali's hills. Join in the morning jogs if your accommodation is nearby.

Go Moto (Motorcycle Trip)

Unlike other East African capitals, Kigali's Moto-Taxis offer a safe and unique way to explore the city. Disciplined riders make these rides an exciting way to experience Kigali.

Kigali Cultural Village

This traditional marketplace offers an opportunity to purchase handicrafts, gifts, and immerse yourself in Rwandan culture, making for a delightful shopping experience.

Kigali Cultural Village

Kigali Executive Car Wash

Unwind and relish BBQ (Nyama Choma) along with a cold beer at this relaxing spot. A popular hangout for Kenyan expats, it's a great place to mingle.

Kigali's Abundant Offerings

Kigali's charm lies in its diversity. Whether you're drawn to art, culture, history, nightlife, or simply sightseeing, the city offers a multitude of options.

Additional Noteworthy Sites in Kigali:

- Ivuka Arts Studio

- Niyo Arts Gallery

- Gorilla Statue

- Yego Arts

- Kigali Centenary Park

- Belgian Peacekeepers Memorial

- The Rock of Kamegeri

For those seeking to extend their exploration beyond Kigali, consider the following destinations worth visiting. 


FAQs About Kigali, Rwanda Backpacking

Is Kigali a safe city for backpackers?

Yes, Kigali is considered one of the safest cities in East Africa for backpackers. The city's cleanliness, calm atmosphere, and welcoming locals contribute to a secure environment for travellers.

What is the best way to get around Kigali?

BodaBodas (Moto-Taxis) are a popular and efficient way to navigate Kigali due to its compact size. The city also offers public buses and taxis for convenient transportation.

What languages are spoken in Kigali?

The primary languages spoken in Kigali are Kinyarwanda, English, and French. English is widely understood, making communication with locals relatively easy.

What are some must-visit attractions in Kigali?

- Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre

- Inema Arts Centre

- Presidential Palace Museum

- Kandt House Museum

- Nyamirambo Main Street

- Go Moto (Motorcycle Trip)

- Kigali Cultural Village

- Kigali Executive Car Wash

- Various art galleries, parks, and historical sites

How is the nightlife in Kigali?

While not as vibrant as some other East African cities, Kigali offers an enjoyable nightlife scene. Popular spots include Executive Car Wash, Ubumwe Grande Hotel, Envy, Papyrus, and K Club.




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