This area of town is located sort of beside Kimihurura on the side of the same hill on the other side of the Convention Centre. If that makes sense. It’s commonly also referred to as Kimihurura but it’s actually a whole different neighbourhood. The top of Rugando is bordered by KN5 Road which is the busy main road at the top of the hill. As you move away from the road, the hill gets very steep and goes into a big valley where many of the houses are.
The area is quite nice and leafy and many of the roads are cobblestone, which adds a certain charm. Roads here are hit and miss with some being perfectly paved and others not actually much more than a narrow dirt foot path with a treacherous bridge or two. I once had a mightily adventurous moto ride in this neighbourhood while I was working on my Kigali map that I’d prefer never to repeat.
Accommodation in Rugando
I’ve been to parties at a couple of shared houses in this area that were huge with giant balconies on the second floor. I’m not sure if that’s an indication of all the houses in this area, but if you’re looking for a big place at a good price, then Rugando could be a good choice for you.
In recent years, a few guesthouses have sprung up here. If you like your lodging with a restaurant and a pool to go with it then The Hut and Fat Mama’s, conveniently located close to the Convention Centre, are both good choices. Further up the hill towards the main road you’ll find Zebra Classical, Cari Hotel, Hill Crest, and Grazia Apartments. I know zero about each place except that they’re all in a super central location. Radisson Blu is also sort of on the edge of this neighbourhood, but technically I think it’s in Kacyiru so you’ll find more info over there.
- Lemigo Hotel – This is the main major hotel in this area and they’ve expanded to probably more than twice their size with a recent addition. It’s a pretty popular, large, reasonable quality hotel with a nice pool area. Plus it’s probably one of the most central major hotels in the city and especially great if you’re in town for a conference at the Convention Centre but don’t want to pay Radisson Blu prices.
Recreation in Rugando
Rugando is mostly a residential neighbourhood but Lemigo Hotel has a swimming pool (that’s good for both lounging and laps) and they also have a decent gym. Casino Kigali is also located inside Lemigo and it can be a fun night out with friends. Grazia Apartments also has a small pool if you’re looking for a place to lounge.
Shopping in Rugando
Simba Supermarket has a branch here just at the top of the hill. It’s weirdly stocked with a strange focus on toys and cleaning supplies. For a better selection, wander down the road a bit to the branch at Kigali Heights. There are a couple of very small shops in among the houses but they’re not good for much more than the basics. There’s a Sawa Citi closer to Remera that’s pretty well stocked with the basics plus usually some interesting imports.
Restaurants & Cafes in Rugando
- Alink Chinese – This place has been in Kigali for years. It’s one of the strangest places I’ve been but also one of the best sports for Chinese. Except that one time they ran out of rice.
- Fat Mama’s Kitchen – This low key Indian restaurant has moved locations a few times. First from the woefully empty Car Free Zone and then to the even more desolate and depressing Kigali City Tower. I love this place so I was happy to see them pop up over in Rugando and a place that will hopefully work well for them. It’s a great place for affordable Indian food, especially snack type things like dosa, and they make the best samosas in Kigali.
- Great Wall – I used to love Great Wall when it was over in Kacyiru in a super dodgy building (with a lot of charm). It’s moved to Rugando and the building isn’t quite as quirky but the food is just as good as always.
- The Hut – The Hut is one of my favourite restaurants in Kigali. The menu is interesting and it’s one of the best places to come for grilled meat. It has a beautiful view and there’s even a small swimming pool.
- Habesha – This Ethiopian restaurant seems to have taken over from Lalibela as many people’s top choice in Kigali. It’s great for groups and very affordable, too, especially if you get the meat or veg platters.
- Inka Steakhouse – This place is tucked way at the bottom of Rugando in a beautiful space. They seem to have put a lot into the design and the outdoor fire pit is a nice touch. This place is great for steak and also a good date spot.
- Simba – Simba is known mainly as a supermarket but the branch in town and the one in Ruganda both have cafes attached. This is one of the best places for a good value meal with huge portions for cheap. This location is also a fun place for drinks in the evening.
Nightlife in Rugando
I’m not sure if a casino counts as nightlife but Casino Kigali is open late and people often go there at the end of a night out. Otherwise the nightlife options here are pretty sparse but there are a few options in nearby Kimihurura, Kacyiru, and Nyarutarama, so don’t despair!