On Solitude in Kigali

I’ve spent quite a bit of time waxing poetic on the power of community in Kigali, as well as all the available social options our favorite East African city has to offer. From happy hours to quiz nights to art galleries, it’s pretty easy to meet people. In fact, it’s actually pretty difficult to spend time alone while living in Kigali. Co-workers, roommates, friends, and neighborhood kids, as much as we all love them, can all be pretty hard to shake – especially for those days when you just need a couple hours to yourself. Check out our guide to getting some solitude in the land of a thousand hills.

1. Morning Walks

Kigali doesn’t really start getting going until about 7:00am or so. Even at the bustling Kimironko market, stalls are rarely entirely opened until about 9am. Squeeze in a bit of alone time in the wee hours of the morning, basking in the early sun and enjoying panoramic Kigali views all by yourself.

2. The Cinema

Located in KCT, Kigali’s very own Century Cinemas is one of my favorite places to get away from it all. Movie tickets are cheap, the popcorn is pretty good, and who doesn’t like to sit in a dark air conditioned room for a few hours!

3. Alternative Pool Time

The Marriott and Mille Collines are reliably crowded every single weekend. In fact, I’ve actually never gone to the pool at either of these hotels and not run into people I know. However, don’t fear pool-lovers! There are a bunch of alternative options available throughout Kigali, including the pools at the Gorillas Golf Hotel and Hotel Villa Portofino Kigali in Nyarutarama.

4. Spa Visits

This feels its kind of cheating, but spa visits (Soothing Corner in Kacyiru and Sunset Spa in Kibagabaga are my favorites) are often quite tranquil, and talking is rarely required. Get into the zone with a massage, and leave feeling a bit more well rested.

5. Weekend Trips

Though not all weekend trips are people-free, there are a lot of relaxing and quiet places around the country. Be sure to check out Kibuye, Akagera National Park, and the twin lakes for lakeside hangs, safari drives, and all your solitary travel needs.

6. Hike Mt. Kigali

Though a couple of neighborhood kids might join your journey for a bit, nothing is better than climbing Mt. Kigali in the morning or at dusk. The city is framed perfectly amongst lush undergrowth and green trees, and the bar at the top is perfect for a solo beer. Located in the back corner of Nyamirambo, follow the road past Panorama 10 to 2 and start walking up.

7. Picnic at Juru Park

Located in Gikondo, this park is one of the only places in Kigali where visitors can hang out on the grass. Though it can be a bit of a hike (read: drive) to get to, the casual and comfortable atmosphere is definitely worth the effort. Get your picnic on, bring a book, and soak up that Kigali sunshine.

8. Stay at home

 

No, really. So often in Kigali I’m overcome with the need to go out and meet up with friends. While that’s often great, taking the time to stay home and craft a space that’s peaceful, solitary, and soothing can go a long way when it comes to recharging in Kigali. Take your time at home to make a great meal, Netflix & chill, and just spend time hanging out before heading out into Kigali life once more!

What do you think, Kigali? Where do you go when you want to be alone?

About Leah Feiger

Though Leah is originally from Chicago, she grew up abroad in Hong Kong and London and has had the travel bug ever since. Perpetually on the road or planning imminent travels, she loves short layovers, mangoes, mountains, and lakeside naps.