When I first moved to Kigali any “sightseeing” I did was on the back of a moto. Whenever I spotted that distant hill built as a part of Rwanda’s ambitious Vision 2020 with cloned houses built all facing a central church (which sits taller than any house) I got a vomit feeling in my stomach and thought “freaking Pleasantville.” Fast forward three years and now I am living here. You may call it a love-hate relationship.
I’ve lived in five different houses in Kigali, and my house in Gacuriro is definitely the nicest. It’s new, clean, and comes with the most ridiculous view I’ve seen. Yesyesyes, “my view’s the best” – we’ve all heard it before, but seriously guys, my view is the best. It offers a spread of the city rivaled by no one. (This is Kirsty… her view is the best. Really.)
Perks of Gacuriro? All smooth, paved roads. Easily accessible and easy to direct people to. Great running routes. Quiet privacy. Pitfalls? Is it Gacuriro, or Gaculiro? Do you say GacuRIro, or GacuriRO? How about GacuLEEro? No one knows, and it keeps me up every night.
A downside of Gacuriro is the lack of resources – though resources are not far. It’s only 3 minutes to MTN Center by some motorized vehicle, and about 20 minutes walking from the estates. It also doesn’t take long to get to Kisimenti (6 min by chariot), where you can hit up Ndoli’s and all the other wonderful shops in that area. It’s even only about 10 minutes to town, because you take a long road through Gisozi, which I’ve always found to be a pleasant ride. That being said, here’s your immediate options:
- Woodlands Supermarket – Now the landmark of the Nyarutarama/Gacuriro divide. The store has a pretty good selection of fresh meat, veg, and dry goods. It’s a mini Nakumatt, essentially. It’s clean and full of employees who will hunt you down if you dare to carry something in your hand instead of a basket. Don’t rely on their cheese department though. It fails me every time. Prices are hefty – they’re buying into the rich population of the area. Parmesan runs 7800rwf while at Frulep or MTN you can get it for 6200rwf usually. Oh, prices of normal things? Uhhh, Inyange Whole Milk is 1000rwf, eggs are 120rwf each, bread is … I don’t know, I finish the cheese before putting it on bread.
- Gacuriro Supermarket – The best thing about this place is the photos of the mega supermarket (probably in Dubai) that they’ve put on their front sign. Enter the mecca and … find a tiny little shop. Their prices aren’t bad actually, a few hundred less than Woodlands, but their selection is random. You can get frozen meats, fill all your pasta needs, good juice/soda/beverage choices, but their dairy/fruit/veg are more unreliable.
There are a few mini shops across the street from Woodlands that have not yet been bulldozed, which I appreciate. You can get the typical stuff you can get in mini shops, for the typical prices. Also, if you go up the road past Woodlands toward Kagugu and keep driving, you’ll hit another spurt of mini shops. They’ve got good avocados.
Hmmm…there’s no actual recreation in Gacuriro, though my dog is working on being a circus act. People here tend to run a lot, ’cause that’s the only thing to do. The Manor is the closest place to go for “something to do.” Things you could do at the Manor:
- Walk into the gym and work out for free because no one is ever there to check your membership.
- Get your haircut (Rwf 5,000), or your nails done (Rwf 4,000).
- Swim in the pool – Rwf 3,000 for the day for a non-member.
- Eat at one of their many restaurants – Indian, Chinese, “Irish”, or Italian.
- Marvel at what a weird place it is.
- Have a (usually) hot shower in the locker rooms.
Otherwise I’d hightail it out of Gacuriro and head somewhere with more to offer, so, essentially, anywhere else.
Restaurants & Cafes in Gacuriro
So, there’s really nowhere to eat in Gacuriro – though it’s not far to great places of Nyarutarama – Zen, Sakae, MTN Center, The Poet – they’re all only 5 minutes away. Apparently a cafe is opening in the Woodlands building, which would be nice, but as of yet does not exist.
- Pascha Restaurant – This is the only Turkish restaurant in town and it’s good. I’m no expert on Turkish food, but I’ve liked everything they’ve thrown at me, so far. Mysterious things I’ve never heard of like the delicious ‘beyti’ which seems to be some sort of a lamb sausage in some sort of a flat bread with some sort of a tomato sauce on it. The place is pricey but nice for a treat. Great outdoor seating and occasional love tunes being belted out on the acoustic guitar.
Nightlife in Gacuriro
Well! Let me tell you! We have a bumping club up here in Gacuriro. K-Club, formerly known as B-Club, oft called Z-Club, is on the top floor of Woodlands. You can’t miss it, as they didn’t hold back in adorning the building with alternating flashing Christmas lights. Painful. Prices tend to be a bit high, and the clientele is usually diaspora Rwandese. Happy hour on Wednesday nights, and decent space for dancing. You can definitely have a good time with the right crowd.