Kigali, with its million people and central location, is the capital of Rwanda. Kigali International Airport is the primary gateway in and out for visitors looking to explore other attractions and destinations in Rwanda. Planeloads of tourists from all over the world arrive here, looking to rent a car in Kigali so that they can head out for a gorilla safari in the Volcanoes National Park, which straddles the Rwanda–Congo border. The genocide was a major setback, but Rwanda has firmly bounced back, and currently, there are world-class hotels in Kigali, along with a whole bunch of budget and mid-range accommodations for backpackers and budget travelers.
You can start your visit here by getting a car for hire in Kigali and heading to the Presidential Palace Museum. It shows how opulently dictators lived in the decades before globalization brought them down a peg or two. You will, no doubt, want to do some shopping for trinkets and traditional clothes and handicrafts, for which you can head to the Kimironko Market.
There are three international hotels in Kigali, including the Kigali Serena Hotel, Mille Collines, and Novotel Kiglai Umumbano in the Kacyiru District, where you can also see the President's residence. In the budget range, you have the Kigali Hotel near the Muslim Quarter Mosque. The mid-range hotels worth considering include the Okapi Hotel and the Hotel Isimbi.
There are very few things in the world that will leave you as aghast and stunned as the genocide monuments in Kigali. The Kigali Memorial Center is the site where 250,000 people who were killed in the genocide have been buried. All told, 800,000 people were "exterminated" in Rwanda in the genocide, and Kigali is slam-bang in the middle of this unspeakable human tragedy. If you can stomach it, there are four other such sites: one in the city, one in the Minor Seminary of Ndera, and one each in the former Rubungo and Rutongo districts.
The reason that most international visitors come here is for a gorilla safari. Book your car rental in Kigali right now, because it gets mighty crowded during the peak season. The most popular destination is the Volcanoes National Park in Ruhengeri, Congo. It takes 2 hours to get there from Kigali, with towns such as Mugambazi, Butaro, and Musanze on the way. You could also go past the Volcanoes National Park to Goma and Lake Kivu for a birding safari or to the Akagera National Park past Giti.
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