Ice Cream in Butare at Nzozi Nziza

Inzozi Nziza

There’s a special place in my heart for ice cream. I grew up on some of the best, living just a mile from a dairy farm that quite possibly fell from Heaven. Since moving to Kigali, that little nook of my heart was feeling quite empty. There’s some ice cream here, but Kigali has no ice cream shops. Surely such a delightful treat deserves some respect. Ice cream is no sideshow. My type of people make ice cream the main event.

Someone heard enough of my languishing and told me about Inzozi Nziza, an ice cream shop in Butare. Yes! All I needed was a way to Butare and I could get my fix. Thankfully, I had an upcoming birthday and after tirelessly dropping hints that I wanted an ice cream road trip my wish came true. Of course, the bus is an option, but sharing the experience with a friend (with a car) is much more fun.

It takes about 2 to 2 1/2 scenic hours to get down to Butare from Kigali. Once you reach Butare, continue on the main road through town that curves to the right and leads you out the southern end. Just before the road curves to the left, Inzozi Nziza is on the right. To be honest, we didn’t know where to find the ice cream when we went; we just parked in town and asked around. As long as you can get to Butare, you’re set.

At Inzozi Nziza I had the surprise of my life – the ice cream is soft serve! I forgot there was such a thing. Apparently, that’s the point, that’s why so many people make the pilgrimage to Butare… because you can get hard ice cream in Kigali, I suppose. Not sure how I missed the memo, but it was a nice surprise anyway.

They offered two flavors when I was there. The machine can only serve a few flavors at a time, so they rotate daily. On my very special day, they had coffee and maracuja (passion fruit) flavors. I tried both. The coffee was great, not too strong, and the maracuja was really fruity. It reminded me a lot of frozen yogurt, probably because I tend to order my frozen yogurt in the fruity variety (like I’m doing my body some great favor). Maracuja wouldn’t have been my first choice if they offered all flavors at once, but I’m glad it was on the menu because I really enjoyed it. They have chocolate and vanilla sometimes, and on any day will have fresh fruit flavors like strawberry, mango, and pineapple.

The ice cream servings come in three sizes: Rwf 500 for teta (small), Rwf 700 for nshuti (medium), and Rwf 1,000 for a cyubahiro (large) cone. Yes, cones! Sure, they offer dishes but half the fun is in the cone. Especially in Africa where anything frozen will melt at record speed.

They have toppings too. I got sprinkles, the merriest of all add-ons. I didn’t know this at the time, but the granola they offer is homemade and highly sought after. Next time.

They also offer coffee ground on location. Just to prolong the joy of sitting under an umbrella outside a cute ice cream shop for the first time in ages, I had a cup after my ice cream (that disappeared far too quickly). Inzozi Nziza brews a mean cup, so consider making a trip to Butare to kill two birds with one stone.

It’s a one stop shop – they serve beer and some food items. Grab a light lunch of bagels, fruit salad, or omelets. Had I known they served food, I would have skipped lunch in town. The more I think about it, the more I realize I have some unfinished business with Inzozi Nziza. Anyone up for a trip? The atmosphere is breezy and relaxed. Hang out for a while when you make an ice cream day trip or be sure to plan a pit-stop if you’re road tripping to Burundi through Butare.

Inzozi Nziza, meaning “sweet dreams,” is a non-profit venture started by Blue Marble Ice Cream out of Brooklyn, New York. Do something good and treat yourself to Rwanda’s finest ice cream.

Hours: 8am – 9pm, Sunday to Monday
Phone: 0788 738 350 / 0725 770 401
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