Kimihurura is a very popular area of town for expats. Maybe it’s the central location or the nice houses or the multiple restaurants to choose from or just the frequency of rooms becoming available here. Who knows. But you’re bound to know at least someone who lives in this area.
It’s probably the geographical centre of Kigali, so you’re well-positioned to travel to other parts of town. If you live well inside the residential areas of ‘Kimi’, though, you might have to walk awhile to get a moto on the surrounding main roads, so having a car in this area is handy. Although the roads in this area are terrible so, then again, having a car might not be great. But besides the bad roads and the lack of motos cruising around the area’s innards, it’s a central place to live.
Asides from being home to numerous restaurants and NGOs, it also has lots of lovely homes with a view of town. The homes aren’t as grand as those in Nyarutarama but they are more manageable with nicer gardens. Houses closer to the cobblestone or paved road can be a bit pricey but those further in can be very reasonably priced with a few beautiful gems for cheap and it’s a very popular place with expats. You’re bound to know at least a few people who live in share houses in this area or, failing that, you’re sure to have been to a party here if you’re the type to work the house party scene. Houses are generally well-equipped and often have nice views and/or gardens. You’ll often see rooms in this area advertised as muzungus cycle in and out of the city. It seems like houses in this area have a high turnover rate.
For something more temporary, there are a few places to stay in this area including the nice (but relatively expensive) Lemigo Hotel, the mid-ranged Elegancia Guesthouse, and Mamba have just opened hostel-style accommodation for as cheap as about $20 per night.
One downside to this area is the lack of shopping options. The nearest supermarkets are probably in town. There are a bunch of corner stores scattered around the neighbourhood, though, so getting a Fanta and a quick snack is usually no problem.
One of the best spots in the city for recreation is Mamba Club which is a restaurant, bar, bowling alley, swimming pool, volleyball court all rolled up into one. They also have table tennis, pool, and I think I even saw a dart board there once. The roundabout near parliament is a popular place with runners. It’s 1 km around so it makes an easy place to keep track of the distance. There’s also a park in the middle which I’m told is open to everyone, but the fence around it and gate say otherwise.
If art is more your thing then check out the Uburanga Art gallery which is located down in the side streets of Kimihurura and is a great place to visit to see what’s happening in the Kigali visual arts scene.
Restaurants & Cafes
Places to eat and drink are in abundance in Kimihurura with loads of different food options on offer as well as plenty of places to get a simple African buffet. It’s one of the best areas of town for eating.
- Ogopogo - This new restaurant has replaced Papyrus and is pretty much a copy of it. Virtually the same Italian-inspired menu. Wine is cheap here (Rwf 2,000 for a generous glass) and the food is good. The ravioli and lasagna are my favourites. You’re probably sure to bump into people you know here, any night of the week.
- Lalibela - Delicious Ethiopian food at a good price. If you share a meat or veggie platter between three people, you’ll all have plenty to eat and not spend much at all.
- Africa Bite - Nice garden with a good buffet for Rwf 3,000. Both times I’ve been there, though, they’ve run out of items and were pretty slow to replace them which meant missing out on certain things.
- Flamingo - Chinese food.
- Sundowner - My favourite place to come for nyama choma (roasted goat) with kachambari (Rwandan salsa) and a delicious sauce. So good and always a lot cheaper than I expect it to be.
- Cloud Nine - A local bar with a good lunch buffet.
- Mamba Club - While more a place to come to play, they also have a small menu with good brochettes and burgers. They even do a Mexican night on Mondays.
- Hellenique - Greek food.
- Mickey Mouse - Not sure what kind of food this is but I hear it’s expensive.
- Papyrus Cafe - While the bar/restaurant version of Papyrus has closed, the cafe/bakery lives on. The chairs are huge so if you’re morbidly obese, it’s a good place to plant your ass and enjoy really good coffee. Both times I’ve been there they haven’t had ice. They do cheap ham and cheese sandwiches but otherwise don’t have much of a menu. The banana bread is very good.
- Executive Car Wash - This might not be in Kimihurura but it’s close enough, located at the bottom of the hill heading towards the town side. This is a popular place to get nyama choma, though I’ve never tried it. The pork dishes are good and it’s a popular place to watch football. The open air seating is nice.
Since Papyrus (the legendary and debaucherous party spot where you were always guaranteed to bump into friends) closed in 2011, Kimihurura is a bit quieter but not totally devoid of nightlife options. As I mentioned, there are also a lot of house parties in this area so it pays to familiarise yourself with the area’s landmarks in order to be able to find them.
- Sundowner - This place has always been more of a restaurant type place but when Paypyrus closed, it took on more of a late night party venue feel and stays open very late on the weeks, usually playing 90s dance hits. Which is awesome. Bond 7 whiskey here is cheap at Rwf 3,000 for a small bottle which has lead to some very crazy nights. At least for me.
- Ogopogo - While not as crazy as it’s Papyrus days, this is still a great place to come for some drinks if you want to bump into some familiar faces. I don’t think it stays open until all hours but they do stay open late enough to have a few drinks. There’s no dance floor anymore but with the right crowd, mini dance parties will start up.
- Claude’s - This place is located down the hill from Sundowner at the start of a street on the left. Look for a Heineken sign. I think it used to just be a guy’s house who organised parties but has since grown into an actually bar.