Sprawling on four ridges and meandering valleys is Kigali city, Rwanda’s capital and largest town occupied by up to one million people making it the county’s major social, cultural and economic hub where most commercial and tourist centers are situated. Kigali is blessed with beautiful lush green vegetation covering the hilly sides striped by several boulevards, country side farm terraces and bustling streets that depict the peace and order in Rwanda since the horrific genocide in 1994. The huge amounts of investments and foreign exchange have aided new hotel & lodge establishments, improvement in transportation and communication making Kigali city the base of exploration where all traditional wildlife Rwanda safaris probably start and end.
Kigali was founded by German doctor Richard Kandt, believed to be the first European resident in the city before he advised the German colonialists to take over in 1907. Kigali was not declared the capital until 1962 after independence, its strategic positioning at the center of Rwanda is the main reason it was chosen over Butare, long known traditional power center. The capital city of Rwanda is home to many important commercial buildings including the Presidents house, ORPTN office headquarters, major embassies, shopping malls and so many more making it the center of many activities as well as varying attractions
Brief History of Kigali City & Genocide
The mass slaughtering of the Tutsi by the rebellious Hutu militia during what is popularly known as the ‘100 Days of Madness’ or horrific 1994 Rwanda genocide totally wrecked Kigali, many commercial buildings were destroyed and looted, streets littered with dead decaying human bodies and the few remaining people who had not migrated were too traumatized and suffering from the pain of losing loved ones and their whole lives in general. This period led to a decline in tourism and once again the mountain gorillas were on the verge of extinction as victims fled to the Virunga forests poaching these gentle giants for food in order to survive.
Over the recent years, Rwanda has been undergoing rehabilitation thanks to increased foreign investments and the bonded relationships between the Tutsi and Hutu. The establishment of more hotel, park safari lodges, shopping centers, better roads, good communication system facilities and services has definitely restored Kigali city to its former glory days. The most popular hotel in Rwanda is Hotel des Mille Colllines , once a refuge for Banyarwanda and whites fleeing the violence of the genocide as depicted in Hotel Rwanda , an Academy Award winning movie that tells a story about a hotel manager who risked his life to harbor and protect victims of the genocide from the blood thirsty Hutu militia. The hotel is also close to the Office des Rwanda Parc Nationale Tourism (ORPTN) offices for clients interested in tours around the city, safari to Akagera, Nyungwe forest and Parc Nationale des Volcans .
An informative tour to Kigali city Genocide memorial center will offer you better background info about the genocide as well as past events leading to the horrifying 1994 massacre. Watch video testimonies of survivors, scary photos of dead victims plus documented info about other country genocides. Located on the outskirts of the city are churches of Nyamata & Ntarama which are two of the most powerful genocide sites in Rwanda where you can get to see victims skulls and bones plus disturbing images of the dead..really spooky.
All in all Kigali city has been transformed into one of the most amazing safari destinations in East Africa used as a base of exploration around the Land of a Thousand hills and headquarters of some prominent non government organizations, tour operators and cultural structures.