Rwanda’s capital city Kigali is the country’s entry and exit point for travellers on a gorilla trek. Set at the heart of the country, it is a relatively easy destination to reach – you can travel to Kigali from Johannesburg, Nairobi, Entebbe and Dar esSalaam– and since the Volcanoes National Park is only 100 kilometres(60 miles) from the city, many visitors transfer straight to the park after their arrival and go gorilla trekking the following day.
Some gorilla trekking itineraries do need an overnight stay in Kigali however and although the attractions in Kigali are modest, if first impressions generally count then they certainly do here. It is almost without question the cleanest city in Africa; plastic bags are banned and citizens take part in monthly clean-ups. Home to a warm and sunny climate with an average of ten days of rain a month, Kigali is also one of the safest and friendliest cities on the continent (one of its greatest attractions!) and it is well worth a stroll around the city centre or to a local market if you have time.
The city lies on a series of low hills and has been the capital since independence from Belgium in 1962 though it was founded in 1907 when the country was under German colonial rule. A city with little over a million in habitants, Kigali offers accommodation in the form of modern hotels – usually part of an up-market international chain. Standards and service are as you’d expect from these establishments; they are well equipped with gyms and saunas plus Wi-Fi and a choice of restaurants. Kigali’s hotels lie within easy reach of the international airport but also the vibrant city centre with its shopping and commercial area set around Kigali’s most famous accommodation, the Hotel des Mille Collines.
Some of our itineraries have time to include a city tour and the attractions in Kigali before you transfer to your gorilla trek. The tragedy reflected by the Genocide Memorial is balanced by visits to colourful markets and the Muslim Quarter; you can also walk with local guides around multi-cultural Nyamirambo, the heart of the city and sample eclectic urban culture before heading to the rainforests and the gorillas.