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Nestled between rolling hills, Rwanda's capital is friendly and welcoming,
confounding preconceptions.
Because 24 years after the genocide which shocked the world
Kigali has worked hard to reinvent itself, with its eyes on the future.
With a host of startups, a burgeoning art scene, great dining and some of the world's
best coffee
this African capital is building a reputation with tourists.
Welcome to Kigali.
With a population just over 1.1 million people, Kigali is both geographically and culturally
the centre of Rwanda.
It's streets are spotlessly clean streets, crime is low and the economy is growing.
Kigali is capturing tourists who used to only pass through on their way to safari or gorilla
tours.
After the shocking events of 1994 the city and country wants to show the world another
side and create a new legacy.
Kigali is trying to model it's economic growth off the likes of Singapore and Seoul,
complete with a citywide obsession with keeping the streets clean.
Citizens are required once a month to partake in a giant neighbourhood cleaning effort.
On top of that it's illegal to import, use or sell plastic bags and it's taken very
seriously.
Plastic bag traffickers-- yeah that's a thing-- have been fined and even jailed.
As a tourist, you'll warned not to bring any into the country when you arrive.
Staying in the city is easy, with over 100 hotels including the big names like the Marriott,
Radisson Blu and the Hilton.
But, arguably the best known is the Hôtel des Milles Collines.
It was here in 1994 that 1,200 people took refuge during the genocide.
That story inspired the film Hotel Rwanda.
At the time is was the city's premium spot but these days newer hotels offer more luxury.
Despite that - sitting in the lobby you can feel the charm is still here.
Internationally, Rwandan coffee is regarded as the best in East Africa
but it's not popular with the locals.
Rwandans are more into tea but despite this Kigali has a handful of excellent coffee shops.
This is Question Coffee where the beans are sourced from female farmers and roasted in
house.
And this is the Shokola Cafe - a trendy spot above Kigali's public library.
Here's a quick tip when heading out in Kigali, dress up!
The locals look sharp and wandering around in some old t-shirt and shorts is not going to cut it
When travelling around the city you'll notice bright murals dotted around.
This is the work of a public arts social enterprise.
In a city with almost no graffiti this is public art supported by the government.
So it's more positive messages than free thinking street art anarchy, but the scene here is maturing.
There are a number of boutique shops where you can pick up some of the local arts and crafts.
This the Go Kigali Boutique, which also offer city tours that'll show you around the
the town's most exciting spots.
Finally, finish off your day with a drink looking over the city at the Hilton's new
hotel in the centre of town.
With 180 degree views and an excellent cocktail menu, you can watch the sunset in style.
Because, with so much excellent food, drink and ease,
Kigali could well become a tourist must see in the next few years. So get in quick before
the crowds arrive.
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Rwanda’s Capital is Attracting Tourists

4723 Folder Collection
Rachel Kung published on July 28, 2018    Rachel Kung translated    Evangeline reviewed
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