Kigali is a gorgeous city packed with leafy streets and amazing views. It’s really hard to go wrong on a walk here as everywhere you turn seems to reveal great vistas across the valleys to the facing hills. I recommend you just head out and explore but also thought it could be useful to list some of my favourite walks. I’ve tried to include walks with nice views, places to stop along the way and a decent destination. Beware that any walking in Kigali will involve walking up Kigali’s hills, so be prepared! If you’re new to town and not used to it, beware that the high elevation will leave you gasping for air.
There are plenty of other walks in Kigali too. There’s a great road from behind the RDB that stretches to Remera that, I think, would be a nice place to explore. Plus I’ve been lost in Kicukiro once and that was really nice – once I figured out where I was and stopped freaking out. Although it’s almost impossible to really get lost here given that some major landmark will always be visible on the top of a distant hill.
Get off the main roads and explore, or stick with one of my little routes (I’ve included a map below). Enjoy!
Kacyiru to Nyarutarama – Umubano Hotel to Manor Hotel
Both of these places have a swimming pool so start your walk early during the dry season and you’ll have somewhere to cool off and enjoy a beer in the sun at the end. I recommend walking to The Manor as the view up there is amazing but if you want a bigger pool, then finish instead at Umubano. Taking a small detour through the streets of Kacyiru will bring you to Inema Arts Center and Ivuka Arts. which are both worth a look. This walk will take you down into the by the ‘lake’ and back up the other side. It’s one of the few places in Kigali with walking paths through trees and it’s nice to get off of the roads and into something slightly resembling a small forest.
Kibagabaga – MTN Centre to Sunset Spa
The Kibagabaga neighbourhood seems to have popped up almost overnight and construction here is fast and furious. The construction might not be what you have in mind for a leisurely walk, but the rolling hills and great views in this area make it worth the effort getting out here. Plus, Caiman is a great stopping point with BBQ, cold beer, a great view, grassy space to relax on and even a swimming pool next door. Finish up your walk with a massage or facial at Sunset Spa and you’ve got a wonderful end to a pretty great day.
Kimihurura – Lemigo Hotel to Hero Shop
Start this walk at the Lemigo Hotel and wander down hill into the residential part of Kimihurura. Continuing down you’ll pass the Alink Chinese Club which is the Chinese restaurant that the Chinese people in Kigali tend to go to. A pretty good sign that it’s good so if you’re hungry, make a stop for lunch. Continuing on you’ll pass by the Uburanga Arts Studio. Pop in here to have a chat with some of Kigali’s finest artists, check out their work and enjoy their awesome garden.
Passing by the bottom of the mysterious Camp JP will eventually bring you back into the part Kimihurura we all know and love with plenty of bars and restaurants to stop at as a reward. I recommend grabbing a crazy delicious smoothie from Hero Shop.
Kiyovu – KIST Muhabura to Hotel des Mille Collines
The leafy, winding, wide streets of Kiyovu are great to explore and just confusing enough to make it so you’ll discover new things each time you walk here. I really love walking on the Republika road – it’s quiet with crazy huge houses and great views across the valley to Gikondo. You can get here by heading to the back entrance of KIST (known by moto drivers as ‘KIST Muhabura’), walking a bit further down the road and taking a left turn at a walking path that goes down the hill. After meandering through a few small buildings you’ll see a road on your left that follows the curve of the hill to Republika.
The streets of Kiyovu are confusing (I still don’t know all of the twists and turns after 3 years of living here!) but it makes for some nice walking. Plus the roads are lined with beautiful trees and flowers and there are plenty of places to stop for a break. Republika doesn’t open until 6pm but why not make your way to The Bistro at Urban for a rooftop refreshment before finishing up at Hotel des Mille Collines for a swim.
Nyamirambo – Green Mosque to Sun City Hotel
Nyamirambo is one of my favourite areas of Kigali with some serious hustle and bustle going on where the rest of the city tends to be on the sleepy, quiet side. Walking here can be a bit hectic, especially on the main road where people clog the sidewalks and matatus zip quickly by. Instead of sticking to the main road, duck one street over and you’ll enjoy a much quieter but still very lively and interesting walk. The road stretches past small shops, a few local bars, the market, a moto driving school and eventually the stadium. There’s a great view of Mount Kigali from here and once you climb up the hill towards Sun City Hotel you’ll be rewarded with what I think is one of the best views in Kigali as you look back towards town from a great vantage point. Enjoy a beer and if you time things right, you can watch the sun go down behind Mount Kigali then stroll a few doors over to Panorama Ten to Two for some fish and brochettes.
Town – Just Wandering
The area of town sort of behind Simba heading downhill is a great spot for a stroll. The buildings are all colourfully painted and it’s a part of town with a lot of character. I doubt this part of two will survive Vision 2020 so visit while you still can! Sunday works best as the streets will be almost empty, letting you enjoy the area without fear of being mowed down by a truck. During the week and on Saturday, this part of town is crawling with people and vehicles which give another sort of experience… but I prefer it quiet. Wander the streets for awhile and finish up at KCT for a matinee, or head up to Bamboo for some Chinese food and an amazing view, have an experimental lunch at any of the small local restaurants in this area, or head to L’il Vegas for a fantastic burger as a reward after exercising.