Everyone who hears about my intention to travel to Rwanda first says "What do you want to do in Rwanda?" and then either "Great! Are you going to see gorillas?" or "I wouldn't go there, there was this horrible genocide.
Isn't it rather mean to reduce the small, East African country to these two things?
Sure, there was the terrible genocide in 1994, which is still not forgotten today. And of course there are the magical gorillas, probably the highlight of the trip for most tourists.
The land of 1,000 hills, as Rwanda is also called, has much more to offer than just gorillas.
But what is the tourist offer in this small country, which is not much bigger than Mecklenburg-Vorpommern? - And above all, is the country safe?"
The answer after my trip to the East African country is an unequivocal yes!
Rwanda is now considered one of the continent's model countries in terms of economic growth, environmental protection and the participation of women in economic and political power, which is unusually high by African standards. But above all in terms of safety: I felt safe at all times and everywhere, even when I was travelling alone.
In 5 different blog posts I will tell you what you can experience in Rwanda.
Let's start with the capital Kigali
- this is where the international flights land, so it's also the starting point for most travellers to visit (one day is probably enough for this).
Here are my top 5 sights:
1. Genozid Memorial
A visit to the Genocide Memorial in the capital Kigali is an important step in trying to understand the country's history. With tears in my eyes, I wander through the rooms, shocked by the cruelty that was done to the people. Most families were destroyed. Over 500,000 Rwandans, who had actually lived peacefully together until German colonial rule, lost their lives in the process. The average age in the country today is an incredible 20 years!
Daily 8 am - 5 pm - last admission 4 pm
The genocide memorial is located in Gisozi, a ten-minute drive from the city centre.
2. Kimironko Market
A traditional market where you can buy fruit and vegetables and a wide range of fabrics. You can also have them made into a garment by one of the seamstresses present. You can pass the time waiting by strolling through the rich and varied assortment of everything your heart desires.
Probably the visual highlight of the city
KG 194 St, Kigali, Rwanda
3. Nyamirambo Women's Center
The Nyamirambo Women's Center (NWC), a Rwandan NGO, was founded at the end of 2007 by 18 Rwandan women in Nyamirambo, Kigali. Together they launched a project to address gender-based violence, inequality and discrimination. Today, NWC's mission is to provide education and vocational training to women who do not have the means to pay for such training themselves, so that they have better opportunities in the labour market.
At the end of 2013, NWC introduced the product line "Umutima", which means "heart" in Kinyarwanda. Under this project, NWC trains and employs women from the community to produce a wide range of women's accessories, children's clothing and home decoration products. Currently, over 50 women are employed as seamstresses at Umutima. Umutima and NWC have evolved into a unique self-sustaining model where the profits generated by Umutima are used to fund NWC initiatives and also provide social benefits and a fair wage to the seamstresses.
In the shop you can buy various homemade souvenirs.
The initiative offers different tours - among others a cooking class.
The location was basic but clean and the food was delicious.
Open 8am-5pm, www.nwc-umutima.org
KN 7 Ave, Tel: +250 782 111 860
4. Inema Arts Center
Opened in 2012, the privately run Inema Arts Center is a collective of 10 resident artists. It has quickly established itself as the main gallery for modern art in Kigali. In addition to paintings, sculptures and contemporary adaptations of traditional arts and crafts, there are dance and music performances and classes several days a week. There is a small café on site.
KG 563 St, Kacyiru Kigali, Rwanda Tel: +250 783 187 646 und +250 788 653 683 www.inemaartcenter.com
5. Question Coffee
Question Coffee offers really delicious coffee. Supposedly also for a good cause. You can also book various workshops and a visit to a coffee plantation here.
Mon-Fri: 7am-6pm, weekends 8am-5pm.
Gishushu - KG8 #8, Kigali, Rwanda, Tel +250 781 968 027 https://www.questioncoffee.com/
HOW GET THERE
The best connection from Frankfurt is currently offered by Brussels Airlines with a stopover in Brussels. Prices start at 420 euros, depending on the season.
The passport must be valid for at least six months at the time of entry. The visa can be purchased directly at the airport in Kigali for $50.
All vaccinated travellers arriving in Rwanda must still present a negative PCR test result that is not older than 72 hours at the time of departure. A second PCR test will be conducted upon arrival, with results delivered no later than 24 hours. During this time, travellers must be in self-isolation at the booked hotel. As most flights arrive in the evening, the test results are usually available the next morning.
BEST TIME TO GO
Due to the stable weather, the months of June to September and the shorter dry season from December to February are the best time to visit Rwanda. There are fewer rain showers during these months and conditions are perfect for seeing the gorillas. The heaviest rainfall is between March to May, which can make visiting some areas a challenge.
Colibri Travel offers an 11-day package tour. More information at www.colibri-travel.de.
On the website of Enchanting Travel you can put together your dream trip from various blocks. www.enchantingtravels.com/de.
There are many luxury hotels in Rwanda, such as One&Only Nyungwe House, located in a tea plantation. One night costs 1700€ here - all inclusive.
But don't worry, there are also accommodations for normal earners. My favourite hotel was the Hotel Cleo right on Lake Kivu. Double room with rich breakfast on the terrace overlooking the lake from 150€. https://cleohotel.rw
For adventurers, the safari tents from Red Rocks are a good value option. 25€ per person including breakfast. Here you can also book tours to the nearby Vulcanos National Park. www.redrocksrwanda.com
There is a great choice at booking.com in all locations.
The best fish in Kigali is at Green Corner. KN 20 Ave, Kigali, Tel: +250788752721.
The best coffee - without question - at Question Coffee https://www.questioncoffee.com/