Made easy, Kacyiru is the area around the road stretching from Top Tower down to the US Embassy. It’s an area with a tonne of NGO, UN, and government offices, as well as a bunch of embassies. This means that office types are roaming around everywhere and you’ll find the local cafes and restaurants here packed during lunch time.
The main landmarks in this area are the US Embassy, the Umubano Hotel (Novotel/Laico), and the KBC shopping complex. President Kagame’s offices are also here and are very strictly guarded… motos or taxis can’t stop in front.
Kacyiru is a good place to live as it’s in between town, Kimihurura (clubs and restaurants) and Nyarutarama (MTN Center) but one downside to the area is a lack of grocery shopping options or even corner stores.
There are a few ridiculously expensive service apartments with great views located in the centre of Kacyiru but at around $2,000 a month, you’d better hope your employer is making your rent payments. For mere mortals you’ll find some housing tucked away on either side of the main road that stretched between the US Embassy and KBC. Shared housing aimed at expat types is available but you can also find some cheaper deals if you want to go more local. A friend was spending Rwf 100,000 a month for a simple house with one roommate down a hill close to the US Embassy. Or you can find places with all of the modern conveniences for closer to $400 or more for a room in a shared house.
If you’re in town for a short amount of time, there are a few hotels scattered around including Umubano and Top Tower Hotel which are both fairly dated-looking and pretty expensive for what you get. Kacyiru is also home to the only ‘real’ hostel in town, Discover Rwanda, so you’ll probably bump into some elusive backpacker types in this area.
Kacyiru is filled with office buildings and a few hotels but it doesn’t have much in the way of shopping. The best bookstore in town is located here in the same building as Shokola Lite. There’s also a pharmacy here. There are some small shops near Umubano Hotel and the KBC (Kigali Business Centre) has a collection of stores but nothing that sells food. So for groceries you’ll have to make a trek to either town or head towards Kisiment to Ndoli’s.
Kacyiru has a decent amount of different types of things on offer. If you want some sporty action, try visiting the pool, gym or tennis courts at Umubano. If you like to gamble, there’s a casino located inside the Top Tower Hotel. It’s actually a fun night out if you don’t mind being surrounded by sad looking, old Chinese guys. But if you can snag a blackjack table and fill it up with friends, it’s a relaxing and fun way to lose some cash. There are some walking paths in the valley between Kacyiru and Nyarutarama which can be fun to explore on a nice day. There aren’t a lot of nature spots in Kigali so, while small, it’s nice to have this option if you want to escape the city streets.
It’s probably the cultural centre of Kigali with both the Goethe-Institut and Ishyo Arts Centre hosting some interesting events. Everything from German films on Tuesday nights to theatre. Plus Shooters Nightclub, located next door, hosts spoken word, comedy and acoustic nights and they allow anyone to perform. Most of these events are free. Kacyiru is also home to Ivuka Arts which is a gallery and workshop for local Rwandan artists.
Restaurants & Cafes
With so many office workers roaming around, lunches in Kacyiru are a busy affair. If you’ve been in Kigali for any length of time and know people who work for major NGOs, the UN, the EU or the Rwanda government, you’re bound to know someone each time you eat lunch in this area.
- Shokola Lite – Shokola in Kiyovu closed down in 2011 but this mini version lives on, serving up a buffet lunch for Rwf 4,500 plus a menu of Middle Eastern-ish inspired dishes. This is one of my favourite cafes to work at, even though the tables are a bit too high for the chairs. if you want to park for awhile, avoid lunchtime. My favourite dish is the kofta and the lemonade here is good.
- Magda Cafe – This cafe is located in the same building as Shokola Lite. It’s pretty much a carbon copy of the Bourbon Coffee shops with almost the same menu and even the same dishes and furniture. They do the best iced mocha in town and I think the food is slightly better than Bourbon’s.
- Great Wall – This Chinese restaurant serves up large portions at a good price. Beer is cheap and it has a fantastic view. Sweet and sour pork is a favourite and, with rice, will serve two people easily.
- Umubano Hotel – There’s a small bakery type place in the lobby with some of the best bread you’ll find in town and cakes. There’s also a restaurant which has a good (but expensive) buffet and good food. I had some very taste goat brochettes here.
- Select – Located on the road that goes towards Nyarutarama, I’m not really sure if this counts as Kacyiru, but it’s close enough! Select is one of the nicest restaurants in town and if you want some good food and wine and don’t mind splashing out a bit (not crazy expensive but expensive for Kigali) then I’d recommend it. Great service, food and a nice view from their balcony.
- Indian Chef – Pretty average Indian food at a good price, located on the same street as Select.
Kacyiru is home to two of Kigali’s main nightclub type places but they’re tucked away so it doesn’t give the impression of being a thumping nightlife hub, or anything.
- Shooters – This nightclub has a nice patio area and a dark dance floor inside with some seating tucked away at the sides. I’ve only ever been here during spoken word night so have never seen the place pumping with music and dancers. But I like how you can escape to the outside if you’re looking for a more low-key evening. Food is good but expect to wait at least an hour, even for chips and brochettes. Their spoken word nights are fun and comedy night gets good reviews too.
- Planet Club – This place is also commonly just referred to as ‘KBC’ as it’s located in the Kigali Business Centre. It’s a dark nightclub with blaring dance music, plenty of dark corners and hookers galore. With a group of drunken friends you’ll probably have a good time. Or if you’re in the market for a hooker. But it’s probably not a place to come for a quiet drink.
- Grill & BBQ – Think this place is often called ‘Car Wash Two’. It’s located on the street behind Great Wall Chinese Restaurant and often has karaoke nights.