Kacyiru is the neighbourhood around the road stretching from Kigali Heights all the way down KG 7 Avenue to the US Embassy and a bit beyond, spreading down the hills on either side of the main road. It’s an area with loads 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 cafes and restaurants in the area busy during lunch time.
The main landmarks in this area are the US Embassy, the Umubano Hotel (even though it’s currently closed for renovations), the KBC shopping complex (demolished and risen anew), the Convention Centre, and Kigali Heights. President Kagame’s very strictly guarded offices are also here and you should take note that vehicles, including motos, aren’t allowed to stop along the whole stretch of road in front.
Kacyiru is a pretty handy place to live as it’s handy for town (banks, groceries, restaurants), Kimihurura (bars and restaurants), and Nyarutarama (MTN Center, restaurants, hotels with swimming pools).
Accommodation in Kacyiru
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 stretches between the US Embassy and almost to Kigali Heights.
Shared housing aimed at expat types is available but you can also find cheaper deals if you’re adventurous and don’t mind living simply. A friend was spending Rwf 100,000 a month for a room in a small house with one roommate down a hill close to the US Embassy (albeit about 7 years ago so expect higher prices now). As with the rest of the city, these small houses are slowly being flattened in favour of new builds. You can find easily find lots of houses here with all of the modern conveniences. Expect to pay anywhere from $300 and above for a room in a shared house.
There aren’t so many hotels in this area these days. The very bizarre Top Tower Hotel was demolished to make room for the expansion of KBC and Umubano Hotel (or whatever they’re calling it these days) is closed for renovations until 2020 sometimes. Over towards the US Embassy you’ll find Mubwiza Courts, Noble Hills, Inzozi House, and Town View Guesthouse which all look like decent mid-range options. Muruga Hotel is a nice option for those on a budget and on the other end of the spectrum over at the other end of Kacyiru you have Radisson Blu which is one of Kigali’s best hotels, located on the grounds of the Convention Centre.
Restaurants & Cafes in Kacyiru
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.
- 360 Degrees Pizza – This slick pizza place is a Kenyan chain that’s owned by the same people as Java House. It’s relatively expensive but the pizza is very good. They’ve got a decent number of pizzas to choose from and they all sound extremely enticing. They’re very generous with the toppings and, more importantly, they always have the ingredients, even the hard-to-find stuff.
- Brachetto – This is one of my favourite restaurants in Kigali. It’s run by an Italian chef-owner and it has a cozy atmosphere with a view, one of the city’s best wine selections, an amazing and very popular lunch buffet, and a fabuous dinner menu. Their lamb ravioli is one of my favourite meals.
- Brioche – This cafe chain with three locations opened its first one in Kacyiru in the KCB building that’s in the process of being torn down. They’ve moved to another spot in Kacyiru above People nightclub that’s much more spacious but has all of the usual Brioche deliciousness that we’re used to.
- Burrows – I haven’t been yet but I’m told this is a popular and affordable place for a good Rwandan lunch buffet in a nice setting.
- Camellia – This chain started out as Camellia Tea House in town and has quickly expanded. Weirdly, all of their new branches seem to be very close to each other in town, spanning from UTC down to the MIC and CHIC buildings plus one inside M-Peace plaza. That’s five locations in a very small area. The one perchaed atop the weird MIC building has a great view. The menu is very Bourbon-esque but wither better prices.
- Casa Keza – This is a lovely Spanish place that does tapas and has lots of events on each week. They’ve got a good lunch deal and it’s a fun place to come in the evenings with a group of people to share. They make good cocktails and the jugs of sangria are something not really found elsewhere in Kigali.
- Delizia Italiana – This Italian place located inside Kigali Heights made a big splash when it opened because of their gelato. It’s quite amazing. They’ve since expanded to be a place with a full menu plus lots of cakes and other treats in their deli area. They’ve got a selection of Italian wine and serve Italian coffee.
- Filini – This Italian restaurant inside the Convention Centre compound is flashy, with a beautiful interior. It’s home to my favourite lasagna in Kigali and the arancini they make as a starter is also very delicious.
- The Fork – I haven’t eaten here but it’s always busy at lunch and it looks like they’ve got a very impressive buffet. I’ve also noticed a sign for luwombo which is a tasty Ugandan dish where they cool the meat or fish inside a banana leaf.
- Georgie’s Grill – This restaurant, sometimes referred to as ‘Car Wash Two’ has been around for years and is known as a good place to come for nyama choma. They’ve also been known to host karaoke in the past but I’m not sure if it’s still on regularly here.
- Inzora Rooftop Cafe – This is one of my favourite cafes due mainly to the friendly owner and the fact that they have the best cookies in Kigali by far. They also offer a delicious yoghurt and granola breakfast option and the hot chocolate is another of my favourites. This place is busy so get there early to snag a seat and be warned that, if it’s sunny out, it can get really hot. There’s a small kiddie’s play area which makes it popular with families with young (sometimes screamy) kids.
- Japanda – I’ve been told that this Japanese place is the real deal by people who know Japanese food much better than I do. I haven’t been in awhile but it’s a place that’s on my list for a visit sometime soon as the food was really good and the menu is something unique for Kigali.
- Java House – This Kenyan chain has made it’s way to Kigali and has become very popular right off the bat. It’s massive in Nairobi, with branches all over the place, and they’ve already expanded to two locations here in Kigali (the other is in Remera). They’ve got a huge menu with huge servings and the best milkshakes I’ve ever had – anywhere. It’s quite expensive but it’s reliable and a nice place to hang out.
- Magda Cafe – This is one of Kigali’s older cafes and a good place to come to get some work done outside of the busy lunch hours. 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.
- Meze Fresh – This is one of Kigali’s most popular restaurants. Meze Fresh brought Mexican food to Kigali and oh how the people here rejoiced! The atmosphere is a bit sterile but the food really is very good and it’s fast!
- Rider’s Lounge – This is another sort of fancy place in Kigali Heights with a lot of attention paid to the decor. It’s sort of a old school American diner type style and the have a full menu and serve food and drinks late. It’s a popular place for watching sports.
- 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 was always one of the nicest restaurants in town but I haven’t been in years so I’m not sure if it still lives up to its reputation but when I went it was great. 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.
- Shokola – The Shokola cafes have shifted around a bit over the years but it seems like they’ve settled on their location in Kimihurura and this beautiful spot on top of the Kigali Public Library. It’s a cafe that does really amazing smoothies and has a great atmosphere and an even better view.
- Slice & Cakes – A tiny bakery that’s really come into its own over the years. They’ve got a few tables inside and outside but it’s more of a place to come to get tasty cakes and cupcakes for takeaway.
- Terra Caffe – A new place run by a Swedish Somalia guy who serves up a great selection of Middle Easern food and grilled meat. I’ve heard their falafel are amazing but I haven’t tried them yet. The lemonaide is great and their flat bread is probably the best you’ll find in Kigali.
- Turambe Shoppe – This lovely cafe is focused on healthy food including excellent, healthy salads. They’ve also got smoothies, soup, dips, and some baked goods. If you’re feeling in need of a healthy and delicious meal, this is your place.
- Y & T – Cocktails and crepes anyone? This small spot inside KCB has a huge selection of both cocktails and crepes along with coffee and a few other menu items. The decor here is really cool – they have swing chairs!
Nightlife in Kacyiru
Kacyiru is kind of a quiet neighbourhood with more of a focus on government and NGO offices, embassies, and residential areas, but there are a few good spots here for people who want to
- Cocobean – This has become one of Kigali’s most popular night spots with regular DJs and a cool seating around set up around a swimming pool. It’s all nicely lit up at night and it’s a cool hangout spot, even if you’re not there late to go clubbing.
- Inema Art Center – This lovely art gallery has hosted a very popular cocktail night with a happy hour from 6 to 7pm for many years now. People will roll in from 6pm and keep the party going until around 10 or 11pm and it’s a fun place to see lots of familiar faces before rolling on your next Thursday night destination or rolling off to bed. If you’re a social type, it’s a great place to meet new people.
- Inzora Rooftop Cafe – Ok so Inzora isn’t exactly a crazy party spot, but I love coming here on Fridays for their cocktail of the week (always a unique and tasty drink), wine, and their awesome tasting boards. It kicks off at 2pm and goes until around 10pm so you can stop by for an early afternoon post-work Friday drink, stay for dinner, or pop by for some nice food and a cocktail before heading off somewhere else. It always makes a great start to the weekend, especially if you come for sundowners to take in their great view.
- Kabana Club – This low-key place is one of the few places in Kigali that sort of feels like a North American-style bar. It has a nice atmosphere and it’s a good spot for having a few beers before heading off somewhere else. Their pizza is pretty good.
- People – Along with Cocobean, People is one of the only choices in Kacyiru for late night clubbing fun. There’s a smallish dance floor, pool tables, and an outdoor area where people hang out to smoke and chat. They usually charge a cover.
Shopping in Kacyiru
Kacyiru is filled with office buildings and a few hotels but, until Kigali Heights came along, it didn’t have much in the way of shopping. These days you can find a large Simba inside Kigali Heights along with various other shops, though the clothing stores here seem to close down as quickly as they open (Mr. Price and Bossini are no more).
There are some corner stores in the streets behind Umubano Hotel where you can buy basics and Garden of Eden has grown into a popular place to buy fresh produce, including a lot of things you can’t find elsewhere. Fresh Basket do an organic popup market at Inzora Cafe every Monday afternoon starting at around 4pm and the produce is glorious.
Ikirezi Bookstore is the best place in Kigali to buy books and is located on the road behind the Dutch Embassy. It’s also a good place for art supplies and gifts. Charisma inside Kigali Heights is a Christian book store. You’ll find a few clothing and sports shops inside KBC.
For souvenirs, Kacyiru is fairly well-stocked. Ubumwe House has become a lovely little place for buying locally made goods with three places (Akeza Shop, Fab African Things, and Studio Marler) selling goods from a variety of great Rwandan brands. The Azizi Life Studio is here as well selling their beautiful goods. On the other side of the hill towards the US Embassy end you’ll find The Shop for handicrafts and Touch of Africa, a fashion boutique inside Casa Keza.
Recreation & Entertainment in Kacyiru
Umubano Hotel is closed for renovations and this recreation mecca has taken with it its gym, pool, and tennis courts which were all very popular. Without this hotel, recreation pickings are sort of slim. If you don’t mind splashing out a bit, Radission Blu has a lovely pool that’s open to non-guests but for any other swimming you’ll have to head to Nyarutarama where there are a few choices. It’s probably a stretch to call it Kacyiru, but the brand new Kigali Golf Club is on the way to Nyarutarama with golf, a nice pool, squash, and a health centre.
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. If you’re looking for a massage or some other pampering after your walk, you can head to Soothing Corner Spa who will take good care of you.
Kacyiru has several art galleries including Inema Arts (probably the most successful gallery in the city), Ivuka Arts (Kigali’s oldest gallery), Niyo Gallery (a relative newcomer close to the US Embassy), and Yaya Arts which I have yet to visit.
The Kigali Public Library is also here with the Innovation Village on the top floor that has a small cinema and a large space for setting up exhibitions. Institut Francais is also in the library and they host occasional children’s movie nights and other interested cultural events.
While this doesn’t exactly fall into the entertainment category, the innovation space K-Lab is located on the top floor of the Telecom House building in the centre of Kacyiru. They sometimes host interesting talks and events or just stop in for a visit to take in one of Kigali’s best views.