Kiyovu stretches from UTC at the top of the hill down to Cercle Sportif, passing dozens of restaurants, hotels, President Kagame’s house, Kigali Institute of Science and Technology (KIST), and a bunch of NGO offices. Kiyovu is where you’ll end up spending a lot of your time whether you like it or not, either for lunch meetings, dinner with friends, or house parties with complete strangers. For some it might be disturbingly packed with Europeans and Americans, and it is indeed far removed from the more authentic Kigali. It’s beautiful, though, and is a good area to go jogging or biking. Also, while it’s not geographically very central, it’s close to town (banks and grocery stores) and Nyamirambo (fun).
Accommodation in Kiyovu
Finding a house in Kiyovu is a bit tricky as the best places seem to be taken for the long term. But if you have your heart set on living in this area, keep checking my forum as places sometimes come available. Houses in this area tend to be older, one-story places with great, well-established gardens. There aren’t too many of the super huge mansions that can be found in Nyarutarama. Know that the rent will be ‘muzungu-adjusted.’
Kiyovu doesn’t have much shopping but UTC and the other shops in town are very close by. For groceries you can pick up the basics and La Bonne Source (not far from Zaaffran) or Habari Supermarket which is located under The Office on the way to Cercle Sportif. This building also has a couple of small clothing stores. There are also some really small corner stores peppered around the neighbourhood.
Kiyovu is a great neighbourhood for walking with leafy, winding, somewhat confusing streets to keep you guessing where you are. Hotel des Mille Collines has a large pool for Rwf 5,000 as well as tennis courts. Cercle Sportif has a pool as well (although it’s a popular place for families with children), tennis courts, table tennis, squash and a large playing field. You pay Rwf 1,000 entry and then an additional amount for each activity you’d like to do.
I’m not sure if the Serena Hotel is officially in Kiyovu of if it’s considered town, but living in Kiyovu will mean that you’ll be close to the Serena’s wonderful gym and pool. If you’ve got a bit of money to spare and enjoy working out, spa time and lounging by the pool, a membership here will be totally worth your while. The $200/month fee is ridiculous, but the more months you buy in advance, the cheaper it gets.
The French Cultural Institute and the German Goethe-Institut are both located here. Goethe was moved here from Kacyiru and I’m not sure how many events are actually run from their new location. Both of these institutes put on cultural events all over town so pop in to see what’s happening.
Restaurants & Cafes in Kiyovu
Kiyovu has a bunch of restaurants nestled in amongst the leafy streets but many of them close between lunch and dinner or don’t open until 5 or 6pm.
- Dolce – Nothing too exciting. Just a bar that serves pizza and a few salads.
- Heaven Restaurant – Heaven Restaurant is a popular choice for tour groups and people with a bit of extra cash to throw around. It’s one of the more expensive places in town but the atmosphere is nice and the food and service are usually very good.
- Khana Khazana – Though my Indian food preference is Zaaffran, Khana Khazana is a close second for me. Go for someone’s birthday if you want to be serenaded and really embarrass them.
- New Cactus – This is one of my favourite restaurants in Kigali with a menu serving up some unique dishes (fondue, frog’s legs etc), a great view, and friendly service. It’s popular with the French-speaking Kigali community.
- Republika – Another of my favourite spots. You can get all of the Rwandan favourites (brochettes, goat stew, kachambari, sambazi) serves with a bit of a gourmet twist. The service is always very friendly and visits to your table by the owner Solange is a nice touch.
- Royal Garden – I’ve only eating here once. Pretty average food and no view to speak of.
- The Bistro (Urban Hotel) – One of the new additions to Kigali’s food scene, this rooftop restaurant has an excellent view and some interesting choices on the menu (coffee-encrusted steak, anyone?) The food is usually pretty good but what they do best is cocktails.
- The Silverback (Gorillas Hotel) – This place is tucked away inside Gorillas hotel so it’s not such an obvious choice when deciding on a place to eat, especially with so many other good options nearby. But the food is really good at a decent price. Plus there’s free wifi and, since few other people ever seem to be here, it tends to be pretty fast.
- Zaaffran – This is my favourite Indian place in town. The service is fast and friendly, the food is delicious, and they even deliver for free!
Nightlife in Kiyovu
Kiyovu is mostly a sleepy residential area but there are a couple of clubby places to keep you entertained during the late night hours.
- Legacy – This place, located inside Hotel des Mille Collines, is fancy and expensive. Too fancy for the likes of me, so I’ve never been.
- Le Must – Le Must is really popular on Thursday nights, starting out slow but getting packed by around midnight. So packed that moving inside is almost impossible. But if you don’t want to suffocate on the dancefloor, there’s a nice patio area outside that isn’t quite as busy. Le Must is popular with wealthy Rwandans and muzungu spottings here aren’t quite as common as at places like Sundowner and Papyrus.