Travel Postcard: 48 hours in Kigali

Fri Nov 28, 2008 6:17am EST
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KIGALI (Reuters Life!) - Got 48 hours to explore the Rwandan capital of Kigali? Reuters correspondents with local knowledge help visitors get the most from a short visit.


6:00 p.m. - Begin your visit with a cold beer at Hotel des Mille Collines (Avenue de l'Arme / Avenue de la Republique). During Rwanda's 1994 genocide, more than 1,000 people were saved inside its walls. The story was turned into a blockbuster movie called "Hotel Rwanda." It has recently reopened after renovations. Walk through the subdued lobby and go downstairs. Sit out on the balcony and enjoy picturesque views of Rwanda, nicknamed the land of 'milles collines' or a thousand hills, whose beauty is only partly obscured by leafy trees.

7:00 p.m. - Walk directly across the street to Chez Robert Restaurant, French and Belgian cuisine. It may look abandoned from the outside but keep walking down the stairs and around to the entrance. You'll be greatly surprised upon entering by its warm atmosphere, dimly lit tables, soft African melodies, and the smell of a juicy, dinner buffet all instantly flirting with your senses. It's an ideal place for intimate conversation and of course, a very full belly.

8:30 p.m. - Walk around the city center to digest the large meal you've just eaten. Compared to many other cities in this part of Africa, Kigali is quite safe. So enjoy. Enter into any of the small, local bars downtown and order a Mutzig beer that costs around $2, but don't have too many. Rwanda's hilly roads could give you problems.

11:00 p.m. - Not tired yet? Head to the Kigali Business Center. Don't let the name fool you, there's a night club downstairs called Planet. It gets quite full and there's a $2 cover at the door. The packed dance floor, mix of Western and African music and plentiful beer should give you a fun night.


10:00 a.m. - Walk down the main roundabout near Nakumatt mall. Hire a motorcycle taxi to take you around the city. Kigali is nicknamed the "Switzerland of Africa" with its rolling, verdant hills. The city appears bigger than it actually is. However, it is an orderly place and motorcycles are required to have a spare helmet. Tell the driver "Pole, Pole" which means slowly, slowly in Swahili, and then sit back and enjoy the wind on your face.

12:00 - Head to Bourbon Coffee, a western-style cafe in Nakumatt mall. Eat a Tramezzini sandwich with a side salad and Dijon dressing. The focaccia bread is a welcome change. Take your time, it's a cozy place to hang out. You can see people reading in armchairs and working on their computers. Have a caramel drizzle "kawaccino" for dessert, and relax.   Continued...

<p>A woman is seen on a main street of Rwanda's capital Kigali February 6, 2008. REUTERS/Tobias Schwarz</p>